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Dive into documentaries with the Vail Symposium

Daily Staff Report
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily/Taggart SiegelThe documentary "The Real Dirt on Farmer John," features counter-culture rebel and third-generation farmer Farmer John who shows how easy it is to run a family farm and how easy it is to lose a family farm. The film will show at the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Tuesday.
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VAIL, Colorado ” What do a Midwestern farmer, a former Secretary of Defense, and a tribe of Peruvian Indians have in common? From the intimate story of generational farming, to a revealing in-depth interview on international crises, to a glimpse of a dying culture, they are all subjects of the Beaver Creek Documentary Film Series presented by the Vail Symposium on Tuesdays this January, beginning Jan. 8. Each film will be followed with a discussion led over coffee and ice cream in the lower lobby.

“Documentary film is an extremely powerful medium for communicating ideas. They are a remarkable tool for stimulating conversation and dialogue about the world around us,” said Fraidy Aber, executive director of the Vail Symposium. “We have selected three varied, vibrant stories to share, and are looking forward to screening these poignant works on the big screen at the Vilar Center this January.”

Followed by discussion with Walter Chaw

On Tuesday, Jan. 8, take a look into the roots of Americana and the transformation of small rural farms with Taggart Siegel’s film, “The Real Dirt On Farmer John.” During 25 years of their friendship, Seigel captured the essence of farmer John Peterson through the intimacy of their friendship. Counter-culture rebel and third-generation farmer, Farmer John proves both how easy it is to run a family farm and how easy it is to lose it in crisis. After hardships and missteps including the farm crises of the ’80s and being ostracized by his community, farmer John bravely transforms his Midwestern farm into a thriving land. There is also a green twist ” the Peterson family farm has become Angelic Organics, one of the largest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms in the United States.

Winner of over 30 film festivals, including Best Documentary at the Nashville Film Festival, the Jury Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Chicago International Documentary Festival, this documentary touches the hearts and tickles the funny bones of audience members across the nation. Slow Food On Film awarded “Real Dirt on Farmer John” the international Golden Snail Jury Award and the film received the first ever Reel Current Al Gore Award. Al Gore described it as, “A real and gripping story with insight and humor.” Denver film critic Walter Chaw will lead a discussion with audience members after the film.

Followed by discussion with Walter Chaw

The powerful Oscar-winning documentary film by Errol Morris examines war, rationality and human nature through the eyes of former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. Regarded as the premier documentarian of this time, Morris combines extraordinary archival footage, recreations, newly declassified White House recordings, and a signature panache to deliver what the L.A. Times called, “one of the best documentaries of this or any year.”

In addition to serving as a prominent member of the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, the documentary discusses McNamara’s work as a bombing statistician during World War II, president of Ford Motor Company and the subsequent president of the World Bank. McNamara is regarded as one of the most controversial and influential figures in world politics. The documentary profiles McNamara’s work before focusing on the 11 lessons learned during involvement with Vietnam. Ultimately, the term “fog of war” describes the level of situational ambiguity experienced by participants in military operations. After the film will be a discussion with film critic Walter Chaw.

Rich colors and the preservation of ancient cultural traditions characterize this beautiful documentary about the Shipibo Indians. The Shipibo are one of 14 indigenous tribes living deep within the Amazon basin of Peru. Herlinda, a Shipibo Elder, guides the story of preserving, protecting, and keeping the vast knowledge of song patterns and icaros alive as the western world continually encroaches. The film shows the origin for the song patterns, what they are, how they are used, and the Shipibo’s struggle in preserving and passing them down to the youngest generations. The film is in Spanish with English subtitles, and it is infused with the ancient melodies. After the film, the audience will be treated to a discussion with the film’s director Anna Stevens and musicologist Barrett Martin.

For more information about the Vail Symposium visit http://www.vailsymposium.org or call 476-0954.


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