Film Review: Seed: The Untold Story
Seed: The Untold Story
Jon Betz and Taggart Siegel
Collective Eye Films
Documentaries about the environment and food safety are a dime a dozen, but here’s a topic that’s rarely portrayed cinematically: seed diversity. More than 95 percent of the seed varieties that existed in the early 1900s have gone extinct (for a number of reasons, such as industrial farming and environmental devastation). This has enormous consequences for human life, both because different species are resistant to different types of blight and other natural phenomena, and also because some of those extinct seeds may have held cures to diseases we don’t even know about yet. (As the film points out, the Great Irish Potato Famine came about partly because of a lack of potato species variety on the Emerald Isle.) This could be a very dry subject, but directors Jon Betz and Taggart Siegel have concocted a surprisingly gorgeous and engaging documentary. Their interview subjects, many of them small farmers, are wild, chatty, and fun. The filmmakers also take full advantage of the visual potential of their subject, shooting the fancifully patterned and textured seeds and the dazzling varieties of plants, fruits, and vegetables—everything bursts with color and shape. They make the world of food diversity mouth-watering. And that allure makes for more than good cinema; it makes for effective activism.