Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry celebrates the life of the acclaimed Kentucky poet, teacher, farmer, and activist, Wendell Berry.
Laura Dunn directed, produced, and edited the film while Jeff Sewell serves as co-director, producer , and visual designer. Filmmakers Robert Redford and Terrence Malick executive produce. Owsley Brown III, Gill Holland, Brenda Mitchell, Elaine Mussellman, and Nick Offerman co-produced the film.
In addition to the aforementioned Berry, the main people interviewed include his wife, Tanya, and their daughter, Mary. Mary and her husband, Steve Smith, started the first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in Kentucky. The documentary was filmed on location in Henry County.
Born in Henry County to John and Virginia Berry in 1934, Berry went on to the University of Kentucky and graduated in 1957 with a BA and MA in English. Despite living in California and New York, Berry chose to return home to Kentucky in in 1964. In 1965, his family moved to Lane’s Landing, a property he purchased in Henry County. He taught at UK from 1964 until resigning in 1977. Here’s a guy who could have lived anywhere he wanted but he chose to return home to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Originally, his papers were donated to the UK library but he chose to withdraw them after UK grew too close to the coal providers. They are no located at the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort.
This documentary of Berry isn’t your typical documentary and Dunn has a way of weaving in beautiful visuals with those being interviewed. It’s not one that shows us Berry through archived and contemporary interviews. Instead, he points us to to those farmers in Henry County as a way of showing us life in the rural communities. One can’t talk about food or agriculture without talking to the people in rural America who are working on the farms.
This documentary was filmed during four different seasons in the farming cycle. Dunn is able to blend in visuals of the farming life with those interviews of both farmers and community members. In doing so, Henry County seems to be a character in the film. We get to really know the people living there. They’ve been affected by the industrial and economic changes in the country. We can’t ignore this.
Following its premiere at the 2016 SXSW Film Festival, Look & See will open at the IFC Center in New York on Friday, June 30, 2017. For more information on how to see the film, please click here. To pre-order the Blu-Ray or DVD, please click here.