The issue of global warming has been heating up the headlines and gaining importance on an international stage. But how can one person stop the polar ice caps from melting or turn down the global temperature? This was the issue that filmmaker Ana Joanes was wrestling with when she decided to use her video camera to find some answers. This journey resulted in the movie ‘Fresh,’ which documents new ways to approach the production of food, and will be part of the Wild & Scenic Environmental Food Festival in Nevada City, CA, January 15-17. Read a preview of the festival from the December edition of Moonshine Ink here. Joanes spoke to Moonshine Ink about how she has used her film to help spark community action and the changes it prompted in her own life.
Moonshine Ink: Your movie ‘Fresh’ was released in May. What have you been doing to get it out to a wider audience since then?
Ana Joanes: It’s been really amazing because we came out with the film in May with basically nothing — no publicity, no marketing. We just put it out there as a tool for activists and grassroots movements. [It’s a tool for] reconsidering their food, not just what’s wrong with the food system but reconnecting with the pleasure of food and the community aspect of it. … We offer [‘Fresh’] to them as a platform to create change.
We had a lot of really interesting conversations, and a really great response. Since then, we’ve continued with that model and made the movie available on the website [freshthemovie.com] for the home screening model and more community screenings all over the country. The response has been so good we’re planning to take it national, planning a theatrical release in late spring . Potential partnerships are in the works to bring more visibility to the movement and to the movie.
MI: What was the catalyst that got you out there with a camera in your hand and starting you on the path to making films?
AJ: There was this feeling that global warming was incredibly important. Right now, we’re facing some incredible crises but there’s still the possibility of transformative change and something meaningful. But we are at the turning point. I felt that I had been shying away from the problem because it was so big and so overwhelming, I felt my individual actions could not make a difference, could not mean anything. What can I do to show myself that I can make a difference, my actions are important? I think it was a normal reaction because the problems are so big and complex. We live like the world is separate from us, but we are part of the world. … How do we regain that sense that we are the creators of our world?
There are really amazing things going on all over the world in terms of energy, community projects. Some of the most exciting things we came across had to do with food because it’s kind of a microcosm of all these issues … [and] what the solutions can look like. How grassroots and how innovation [can produce] new perspectives and new visions. That’s what we need.
MI: What do you think showing the film at Wild & Scenic will do to add to that conversation?
AJ: [The movie’s] very purpose is to get people excited and connected in their commitment. The power lies in seeing the movie together as a community and then connecting to make solutions. WSEFF is the perfect platform, bringing in this movie to make change and get the community energized.
There is a community around [WSEFF] that is ready with solutions … CSAs, connections with famers, that can provide an outlet for people watching to make connections in their own lives.
MI: The issues of global warming and changing the food production system are huge and global. What are the benefits that come from taking on this challenge in your own life, and trying to effect change on an individual scale?
AJ: I found meaning in my life. One of the aspects of all the doom and gloom around me was that I felt very disconnected. … You can still have a very full life but not quite feel like part of the world. It’s a very kind of painful feeling. Engaging with your community and engaging with solutions and engaging with the world is a good anti-depressant.
[The result] is a feeling of connectedness, a feeling of community, and connecting with the natural world. I live in a big city where you can’t even see the stars, so it can be hard to feel something bigger than yourself. … I think that in some ways it also brings back a sense of awe and a sense of place and a reassuring feeling that everything in nature and the world has a place and so do you. It’s about shifting perspective and you find this sense of peace and pleasure. We think we have no time for cooking, we want convenience, it’s very attractive, but at the end of the day … it’s nice to take the time to go shopping not in a big supermarket but at a famer’s market. It’s really pleasurable. It brings you closer to your community and makes you feel rooted.
‘Fresh’ will screen in the afternoon session on Sunday, January 17, at the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival in Nevada City, CA. For tickets and information, visit wildandscenicfilmfestival.org. Filmmaker Seth Warren and activist Ari Derfel have also shared insights on their work with Moonshine Ink and will attend WSEFF.