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Seeds of Freedom (film screening & dance) – 3/16
January 14, 2016 @ 1:39 pm EST
On Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 7 pm, CRS FILM+VIDEO SHOW & TELL invites you to screen and discuss the documentary film “Seeds of Freedom,” (30 min). Prior to the screening, African dancer Juri Nishio will offer a short dance performance as a prayer to the farmers of Africa.
This program is a fundraiser for educational scholarships for children of the Samburu People of N’Donyo Wasin, Kenya organized by photograph Katherine Abegg in conduction with her current solo exhibition at CRS of her recent photographs of the Samburu people.
Narrated by Jeremy Irons, “Seeds of Freedom” is a landmark film from The Gaia Foundation and African Biodiversity Network. The story of seed has become one of loss, control, dependence and debt. It’s been written by those who want to make vast profit from our food system, no matter what the true cost. It’s time to change the story.
“Seeds of Freedom” charts the story of seed from its place at the heart of traditional, diversity-rich farming systems across the world, to its transformation into a powerful commodity, used to monopolise the global food system.
The screening is FREE but seating is limited. RSVPing does NOT guarantee a chair!
The film highlights the extent to which the industrial agricultural system, and genetically modified (GM) seeds in particular, have impacted on the enormous agro-biodiversity evolved by farmers and communities around the world, since the beginning of agriculture. Seeds of Freedom seeks to challenge the mantra (promoted by the pro-GM lobby) that large-scale, industrial agriculture is the only means by which we can feed the world. In tracking the story of seed it becomes clear how the corporate agenda has driven the takeover of seed in order to make vast profit and control of the global food system.
Through interviews with leading international experts including Dr Vandana Shiva and Henk Hobbelink, UK political figures Zac Goldsmith MP and Caroline Lucas MP, and through the voices of a number of African farmers, the film highlights how the loss of indigenous seed goes hand in hand with loss of biodiversity and related knowledge; the loss of cultural traditions and practices; the loss of livelihoods; and the loss of food sovereignty. The pressure from agribusiness interests is growing and threatens to replace the diverse, nutritional, locally adapted and resilient seed crops which have been bred by small-scale farmers for millennia.
About Choreographer/Dancer Juri Nishio
Juri Nishio is a performance artist living in Brooklyn, NY. She was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan and graduated from Nihon University of Art with a degree in drama.
Her dance journey began in 2000 when Juri visited Senegal to participate in workshop with the family of the renown drummer Doudou N’Diaye Rose. She came to NY 2003 to investigate contemporary African Dance forms and in 2006 completed the International Student Independent Study program at The Ailey School.
Her work includes choreographed dances with Germain Acgoney, Nora Chipaumire, Camille A Brown, theUrban Bush Women Apprenticeship program, M’WORD! (N’Bewe Escobar), INSPIRIT, a dance company (Christal N Brown), and Maimouna Keita School of African Dance (Marie Basse Wiles). She is currently dancing with Vangeline.
She has presented her solo works at Laguardia Comm. College, Daibosatsu Zendo Kongo-ji, Charles Moore Dance Theater, Spring Field college, Trinity College, CRS, The Ailey School, Bowery Poetry Club and Hunter College.
About Producer/Director Jess Phillimore
Jess Phillimore is a freelance filmmaker who has been working with The Gaia Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network since 2009. Previous short films produced with Gaia and ABN include The Kamburu Story (Kenya) and Reviving Our Culture, Mapping Our Future (Venda, South Africa). Having studied Genetics at the University of Edinburgh, Jess developed an interest in the reality of genetically modified seed and agri-business in the global south. It was out of this collaborative work and interest, and the inspiring Climate, Seeds & Knowledge (CSK) learning exchange which took place in Ethiopia at the close of 2010, that Seeds of Freedom emerged. Jess has also worked on programmes for the BBC including the flagship science strand, Horizon.
More about the Film
“Seeds of Freedom” provides a critical overview of the history of agriculture, charting the transition of the farm into a factory, and highlighting the impact of the agro-chemical and GM industries. Ever since industry turned its attention to farming at the beginning of the 20th century, there has been an accelerating interest in agriculture for big business. After the first and second world wars in Europe, chemical companies sought to find a new market for their products and thereby found a new route to profit through the farm. They discovered that subtle chemical alterations to explosive and nerve agents enabled them to re-package these war chemicals into fertilisers and pesticides for crops. Later, marrying up specific chemical fertilisers and pesticides with hybrid seed furthered the potential for profit, ensuring that farmers must buy both seed and fertiliser for maximum yield. Increasingly the hybrid seeds were only able to produce a yield once, thereby forcing farmers to buy seed and chemicals each year, and moving farmers away from their traditional practices of seed selection, saving and exchange.
“Seeds of Freedom” seeks to give a voice to the global south, and to those farmers and communities who are now some of the most vulnerable to the corporate (and often governmental) agenda for the adoption GM seed. Africa is now a prime target for the GM industry. On 18th May 2012 both Syngenta  and Monsanto  (the two leading GM seed corporations) released press information about increasing their commitments to agricultural development in Africa, investing $1 billion and $50 million respectively.
Despite the propaganda, in 2008, the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report (a study by over 400 scientists from around the world) concluded that agro-ecological farming practices should shape the future of agriculture, and that farmers have intelligently cultivated their own locally adapted, resilient seed for millennia. A report from the ETC group in 2009 showed that small-scale farmers feed 70% of the world’s population . The film’s contributors are calling on farmers and consumers around the world to join forces with the growing global movement promoting Food Sovereignty – the right and responsibility to maintain our diverse culturally appropriate, ecologically adapted and ethically produced foods.
Alongside speakers from indigenous farming communities, the film features global experts and activists Dr Vandana Shiva of Navdanya, Henk Hobbelink of GRAIN, Zac Goldsmith MP (UK Conservative party), Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace International, Gathuru Mburu of the African Biodiversity Network, Liz Hosken of The Gaia Foundation and Caroline Lucas MP (UK Green party). This film is co-produced by The Gaia Foundation www.gaiafoundation.org and the African Biodiversity Network www.africanbiodiversity.org
FILM&VIDEO SHOW & TELL provides a forum for local and independent filmmakers to share and discuss their work and ideas. http://www.crsny.org/film http://www.meetup.com/NYC-FILM-VIDEO-SHOW-TELL/