John and Molly Chester’s work to develop a farm on 200 acres of outside of Las Angeles is the subject of the documentary, The Biggest Little Farm, playing the Salmar Classic on Wednesday, Oct. 2. (File photo)

The Biggest Little Farm an inspiring return to the land

Cinemaphile by Joanne Sargent

There will be no Film Society movie this Saturday, Sept. 28 due to the theatre being booked for a Roy Orbison tribute show. We will, however, be showing The Biggest Little Farm, an inspiring and entertaining documentary, on Wednesday Oct. 2. This movie has received raves on the festival circuit and was a nominee for People’s Choice Award at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

The Biggest Little Farm is a wonderful movie that tracks the odyssey of a Los Angeles couple who, partly because of an adopted dog (the film will explain), decides to leave the city and follow their dream of living on a fully sustainable farm. Molly Chester is a chef and food blogger and her husband, John, is a cinematographer. It is through his lens and commentary that we follow their seven-year effort to transform 200 acres of barren and nutrient-stripped land into a thriving eco-diverse farm.

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The Chesters want everything from the microorganisms in the soil to the predators and prey on the land to be in harmony. They don’t sugarcoat the difficulties of their ambitions; we see them face and overcome challenge after challenge. Audiences will keenly feel each of their setbacks, whether it’s coyotes attacking their hens, a nasty slug infestation, a beloved pig (the star of the show) with a life-threatening fever and, potentially more devastating, threats of drought and wildfires. But it’s a labour of love and the Chesters’ optimism is awe-inspiring.

John’s narration and cinematography are excellent, and it’s difficult not to feel fully invested in the Chesters’ vision. Their dedication and ultimate achievement is something to behold. This must-see film is a primer on the importance of eating locally, supporting farmers and the interconnectedness of all life. It’s a valuable learning tool for young audiences, too, with plenty of cute animals but also has potentially upsetting bits of violence — nature isn’t always kind.

A film of drama and joy, adversity and triumph, The Biggest Little Farm shows at the Salmar Classic Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.


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