Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund Grantee

Look & See (The Seer: A Portrait of Wendell Berry)

Laura Dunn
Jeff Sewell
Grant Year(s):
a black and white image of Wendell Berry reading a book in a chair with feet kicked up on table

In 1965, Wendell Berry returned home to Henry County, where he bought a small farm house and began a life of farming, writing and teaching.  This lifelong relationship with the land and community would come to form the core of his prolific writings. A half century later, Henry County, like many rural communities across America, has become a place of quiet ideological struggle. In the span of a generation, the agrarian virtues of simplicity, land stewardship, local economy and rootedness to place have been replaced by a capital-intensive model of industrial agriculture characterized by machine labor, chemical fertilizers, soil erosion and debt.  Writing from a long wooden desk beneath a forty-paned window, Berry has watched this struggle unfold, becoming one the most passionate and eloquent voices in defense of agrarian life.

Filmed across four seasons in the farming cycle, THE SEER blends observational scenes of farming life, interviews with farmers and community members with evocative, carefully framed shots of the surrounding landscape.  Thus, in the spirit of Berry’s agrarian philosophy, Henry County itself emerges as a character in the film - a place and a landscape that is deeply interdependent with the people that inhabit it.