Harvest Film Festival explores our relationship farming, food and land through its curated programme of fiction, documentary and art films. It also encourages communities, in both rural and urban places, to gather and celebrate the season and their locality.
Our relationship with nature and the cycle of the seasons has long been celebrated by communities. Plough Sunday, Michaelmas, Lady Day, Twelfth Night: all were once fixed in the cultural calendar, expressing something about a community’s reliance on nature and its need to celebrate the life-giving land. We are no longer bound by harvest and husbandry to the cycle of the seasons, nor are calendars marked with festivals and celebrations that express this powerful reliance and connection with nature.
Harvest Film Festival first emerged in 2013 at Lower Hewood Farm, an organic smallholding in west Dorset. Alexa de Ferranti, who farms the 45 acres at Lower Hewood, wanted to explore how cultural and agricultural activities could exist side-by-side. Farming is the default activity in rural landscapes. Its demands are very physical and in the 21st century it has become a solitary, lonely life. So how does communal, cultural activity fit in? Could it be an enjoyable way to break up the tough routines of the farm?
With the curator and artist Maria Benjamin, Alexa hosted the first Harvest festival in the barns and outbuildings of Lower Hewood Farm, with local audiences perched on straw bales as they watched films, listened to talks and the ate a harvest supper with produce from nearby farms.
The films screened that night fed more than the imagination. They demonstrated how important it is for any community to get together, simply to celebrate a time and a place.
Films about the land bind people together. Through the many stories about people and their interactions with different landscapes, in both urban and rural places, it is the land itself which emerges as the most powerful character. Harvest Film Festival has become a showcase for the very best local, national and international film-making. It is a celebration of autumn, when the wheel of the year turns to winter, and a good reason for people to get together and celebrate their community and their home ground.
In 2017 Harvest Film Festival is being curated by Alexa de Ferranti and Common Ground. The day-long programme of fiction, documentaries, archive films and art pieces, short films and features will be launched at Lower Hewood Farm this autumn before touring to other venues around the Southwest – village halls, farms, old factories, museums, art galleries – where other communities will host their own Harvest Film Festival, followed by a harvest supper.
The 2017 programme will be announced soon. If you would like to find out more about hosting your own Harvest Festival or would like to join us at Lower Hewood Farm, please do get in touch.
THE HARVEST SHORT FILM COMPETITION
Alongside the Harvest Film Festival, Common Ground is collaborating with Lower Hewood Farm to host a short film competition. This is an open call to all filmmakers from around the world, living and working in both rural and urban landscapes, to submit films under 15 minutes relating to the festival themes of farming, food and land.
The prize-giving for the winning films will take place during the Harvest Film Festival 2017 launched at Lower Hewood Farm. All shortlisted competition entries will be showcased during the event, before touring to other venues across the UK who are also hosting Harvest Film Festival. All shortlisted film-makers will be able to pitch new projects to Common Ground for production.
We are keen to hear from emerging and established filmmakers using a range of approaches and from any genre including documentary, drama, animation, experimental or artist film.
First prize: £1,000 and a week-long residency at Lower Hewood Farm to work on a project of your choice.
Second prize: £250 and a selection of produce from Lower Hewood Farm.
Third prize: £100 and a selection of produce from Lower Hewood Farm.
THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION IS MIDNIGHT ON FRIDAY 4 AUGUST
Celebrating food, farming and the land
Short films about woods and people
A film by Andrew Kötting
A new feature film
Short films about woods and people
Learning through the seasons