After Winter, Spring: Whole Terrain interviews documentary filmmaker Judith Lit

Whole Terrain, May 26, 2015 | By Cherice Bock

"Filmed on location in the Périgord region of southwest France, After Winter, Spring presents a cinematically beautiful, heartwarming, sometimes discouraging, and sometimes optimistic look into the lives of the region’s farming community (see the film trailer). Filmmaker Judith Lit and her crew spent parts of four years filming this documentary in each of the four seasons, following the lives of a number of small farmers with various backgrounds and approaches: from peasant farmers whose ancestors have lived on the land for centuries to recent imports from French Canada trying their hand at organic farming, from traditional-style horse and wagon to state-of-the-art dairy farming.

After Winter, Spring walks through the seasons, interviewing the farmers as they work in the fields or in their homes, showing sweeping panoramas of French pastoral scenes interspersed with intimate shots of farmers with their beloved animals and plants. ...

Skilled cinematography and storytelling leads us through the film, inviting us into the seasonal rhythm of these farmers’ lives. It elicits a recognition that we are part of this rhythm, connected to people and the natural world in all times and in our own place.

I recently spoke with Judith Lit about the film, her own background, her intentions in the film, and a deeper perspective on the lives and experiences of the individuals we meet in the Périgord. ..."


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What Americans Can Learn From a Beautiful French Film About Farming

Civil Eats, February 27, 2015, By Kristina Johnson

After Winter, Spring looks at radical changes in modern agriculture through the lens of a tiny French villlage.

"In the opening scene of the film After Winter, Spring a French farmer name Guy spots the stony edges of an ancient farm tool peeking up through the ground in his field. He holds the tool in his hand, proof that people have cultivated the Périgord region in southwest France for more than 4000 years.

'That does something to you, to know we’re a speck of dust to all that has come before,' he says.

But the subject of director Judith Lit’s beautiful documentary, which captures the daily life of Périgord farmers, is not France’s deep agrarian history or its iconic cuisine. The story instead centers on the turbulent changes taking place in the country’s rural communities, as mega-farms and suburban development encroach.

To many, France may seem like it’s far ahead when it comes to food. It’s a nation where the cab drivers grow wine grapes, six-year olds prefers pâté, and it’s a given that the escarole is local. But After Winter, Spring makes clear that the “old ways” of agrarian life are under threat there as much as they are in the United States.

When Lit arrived in France 16 years ago from San Francisco, it was easy to romanticize the European countryside as a timeless keeper of tradition. The small village where she bought a house had just 100 people, charming stone walls, and the sound of cowbells echoed in the surrounding hills.

But Lit recognized the warning signs, in part because the 'get big or get out' mentality had forced her own father to sell her family’s farm in Pennsylvania. What she saw in Périgord mirrored the situation she had witnessed in the States: aging farmers, shrinking profit margins, and a younger generation uninterested in taking up their parents’ work. After Winter, Spring is her response, based on four years of intimate interviews with the men and women of her new home.

'In the beginning, it was a documentary about what had been lost,' Lit says. 'But each person was dealing with change differently. Change is inevitable. What is it to change and what continues?' ..."


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Introducing Bullfrog Communities

Welcome to
Bullfrog Communities

We aim to energize change, and to help local activists broaden their reach.

  • We provide powerful films and all the support materials you need to create an effective community event.

  • We will send out strategic petitions, asking you to sign and send them on to your network, using the power of this medium on behalf of the people and the earth. These will be either national in scope — asking you to join an uproar of opinion, or very local — asking you to add your voice to attain a specific victory, which may provide a watershed — changing the mindset of the people empowered in a community, of multinational corporations' assumptions as to what they can get away with, and of politicians who notice the change in the wind.

  • We will provide a forum for sharing ideas that work and news that can inform action on an issue. We ask for your discussion, suggestions, feedback, and reports of successes in your community.

Please join. Let's see what we can accomplish together.

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"Must see! Must share with USA farmers whose link to traditional practices has faded. This is an important and original film."
Richard McCarthy, Executive Director, Slow Food USA