Rural Route Film Festival, New York 2007

5 Years of Rural Route came to a magnificent culmination this July at Anthology Film Archives in New York City. Another bang-up East Village festival featured the ever-lovable luxury of free PBR, along with the delightful new surprise of milk and award-winning cheese from top notch food-conscious Organic Valley (another Wisconsin original)! Filmmaker guests from as far away as Texas, London, and Winnipeg were relieved to have a virtually unlimited supply of beer and dairy upon their arrival. Many also got to take in the live ‘old time’ Appalachian music of the Moonshiners, who jammed out on their banjos and fiddles right on the 2nd St. sidewalk before the Appalshop Archival Hoedown program.

Global diversity played a major role in this year’s festival, with Scandanavia taking center stage. With so many top notch rural films coming out of this section of the world, how could we resist playing “Popular Music from Vittula”, set in the northern Lappland section of Sweden where Rural Route toured earlier in the year, as our opening night feature? Our special guests from the Consulate General of Sweden (Elisabeth Halvarsson-Stapen, Amelie Heinsjö, and Ulf Hjertonsson – the Swedish Ambassador himself) seemed to agree that this poetic coming of age story was a perfect choice. Other international festival highlights included our Raindance Presents program via our new friends in England, who put us in touch with the lovely Nisha Inalsingh (director of Icelandic elf and fairy flick, “Huldufólk 102”) and Helen Watkins (director of Scottish short, “The Clearing”), both of whom were on hand for Sunday night’s over-capacity screening. Viewers were also treated to the Post-Peasant International program, two award-winning films from India and Hungary curated by (who else?) Rural Route’s Canadian Correspondent, Don Goodes.

Our “Go Organic!” shorts program was also a huge hit, and due to a slew of emails already coming in from all over the place, it will be an added portion of our touring program this year. It appears that people are starting to understand that the current state of agricultural has gone beyond bad, and they are ready for change. These films are prime examples to lead the way for something better. Both a refreshing education in the underhanded ways of unethical farming, and a role model by positive sustainable practices through CSAs, Cuban community efforts, and women in farming, this program is something Rural Route is truly proud to have put together.

Of course what would the RRFF be without some down home entertainment from places like Texas, Georgia, and the Appalachians? Eric McCowan was on-hand to receive honors for Best Documentary for “Ruby’s Town”, his terrific first film about turkey racing in Cuero, Texas. Another instant classic was Charlene Gilbert’s personal doc, “Homecoming”, about the history of black land ownership and farming. Time Out NY’s pick of the fest was the Appalshop Archival Hoedown, featuring rare and preserved film and tape footage of legendary old time musicians playing in personal settings (like Ralph Stanley and Ricky Skaggs getting’ down in the back of a pick-up truck).

Our shorts programs were something else this year as well. Hats off to the state of Montana, which dominated opening night’s “Montana and More” shorts program. Then we had some of our most original themed programs ever – a rural kids show, “Stories of the Young ‘Uns”, an adrenaline-pumped program featuring tractor pulls, lawnmower races, and lady truck drivers (“Motor Away”), and a section about light pollution and sense of home (“Lights are On, but Nobody’s Home”). All of these intriguing and highly crafted works have left us with the most high-class documentary/art film fueled tour line-up ever.

We’re so happy to be doing this and putting together a very special independent film community. Hats off to this year’s sponsors who allowed us to keep at it: The Iowa Film Office, New York State Council on the Arts, Consulate General of Sweden, The National Development Council, The Nevada Film Office, Experimental Television Center, Post Logic Studios, the Montana Film Office, Organic Valley, and Pabst Blue Ribbon. And special thanks to Rooftop Films for our ‘sneak peak’ night in Williamsburg!

Best Documentary – Eric McCowan’s Ruby’s Town
Best Experimental – Miso and Lida Suchý’s Pictograph
Best Narrative – Benjamin Gray’s The Hunter

Click here for more great pics
Friday, July 20– Sunday, July 22

Popular Music from Vittula
Post-Peasant International
Ruby’s Town
The Clearing

Montana And More
Stories of the Young’uns
Go Organic!
Motor Away
Lights Are On, Nobody’s Home…
Appalshop Archives’ Old Time Hoedown

Popular Music from Vittula – NEW YORK PREMIERE! – 35MM PRINT!
Reza Bagher, 2004, 105 min., narr
Vittula, Lappland, Sweden

Popular Music from Vittula is an eye-opening and drastic story about two close friends Matti and Niila, growing up in the mid sixties in a Finnish-speaking part of Tornedalen in Swedish Laponia, close to the Finnish border. Their big dream is to become rock stars.

They come of age in an isolated region North of the Arctic Circle that feels less worthy and has no real national identity, since they speak neither perfect Swedish nor perfect Finnish they do not feel like real Swedes or Finns. When they first hear the Beatles single, Rock and Roll Music, their lives change forever. The music intoxicates them and becomes a weapon with which Niila fights for independence from his tyrannically religious father and reaches for the idea of tangible freedom (climbing the Himalayas one day). In Vittula, playing music is not considered masculine, but finally when they are fifteen a new music teacher helps with their struggle.

An energetic, poetic narrative about growing up, and ultimately growing apart, in a beautiful, unique rural region in Scandanavia, Popular Music from Vittula, delivers on dramatic, comedic, and heartwarming levels.

The feature presentation will be preceded by Biegga Savkala Ahte Duoddariid Duohken Lea Soames (The Wind Whispers There is Someone Behind the Tundra).


Post-Peasant International: the Roots of Rural and Back Again

Program Curated by Rural Route Canadian Correspondent, Don Goodes

Milk and Opium – 35mm print!
Joel Palombo, 2006, 83 min., narr
Jaisalmer & Surrounding Villages, Great Thar desert, India

Directors Astrid Bussink and Joel Palombo have brought to life subjects that make compelling connections between our contemporary post-modern culture and seemingly distant peasant worlds. For Palombo the connection is literal. Milk and Opium’s protagonist, 14-year-old Swaroop, travels from his desert village in India through the increasingly technologized landscape eventually ending up in a large urban center. As the landscape changes, Swaroop’s origins remain constant. His modest material needs, his sense of time, his sociability, his strength of character and above all his enchanting traditional Sufi music help us discern the differences between the two worlds, and realize there are many things that we desire from his reality. Milk and Opium ends with a compelling and emblematic image of how multiple identities can co-exist, creating a hybrid that honours both the traditional and the contemporary.

The Angelmakers
Astrid Bussink, 2005, 34 min., doc
Nagyrev, Hungary

The connections between peasant reality and our post-modern world that Bussink makes in The Angelmakers are more subtle but equally as powerful. As the elderly residents of a Hungarian peasant village reveal their stories, there is a transformation in our perception. Our first reaction is to dismiss these fossilized babushka-wearing grandmas and bent-over farm-labourer old men, thinking they might offer us, at best picturesque, at worst hackneyed stories of their rural existence. But a drama emerges from these unlikely narrators, one that is both compelling and troubling to even the most urban savvy viewer. Bussink succeeds in taking us deep into the intimate world of the rural peasant, while at the same time connecting us to our own political, social and cultural interests.

Erik McCowan, 2007, 90 min., doc
Cuero, TX & Worthington, MN

When the towns of Worthington, Minnesota and Cuero, Texas meet each year for the Great Gobbler Gallop, bragging rights to be called ‘Turkey Capital of the World’ are on the line. The annual race rests the pride of both cities on the feathered wings of its competitors: Paycheck and Ruby Begonia. A history rooted in turkey farming for both towns have led the communities to find a natural bond over the some 1100 miles that separate them. But in Cuero, turkey production may not rule the roost anymore in this South-Central Texas town, but its lore and legend has incorporated itself into everything from the annual festival called Turkeyfest to its championship high school football team known as the Gobblers. Ruby’s Town explores the current state of turkey affairs, and goes back to the origins of it all with an event called the Turkey Trot where thousands of the Thanksgiving birds were herded to town every Fall in what was the most fun and   spectacular live turkey market ever.

The feature presentation will be preceded by Little Salsa on the Prairie trailer & Bright Eyes’ “Four Winds” music video.

Q&A with Texan Erik McCowan following the screening!

Charlene Gilbert, 1999, 57 min., doc
Montezuma, GA
In 1920 there were nearly one million black farmers in America; in 1999 there were less than 18,000. Traveling to her cousin’s farm in rural Georgia, filmmaker Charlene Gilbert investigates the social and political implications of African American land loss in the South. Both an historical examination and an intimate look at one rural family, Homecoming documents the tradition and decline of black farming, and explores the bittersweet legacy of the land, a symbol of both struggle and survival.

The feature presentation will be preceded by Rain in the Mountains trailer & Eric Bachmann’s “Lonesome Warrior” music video.

Q&A with filmmakers following the screening.

London’s Raindance Film Festival Co-Presents Huldufólk 102 & short film, The Clearing

Huldufólk 102 – NEW YORK PREMIERE!

Nisha Inalsingh, 2006, 74 min., doc

Set against the backdrop of Iceland’s breathtaking rural landscapes, Huldufolk 102 explores the country’s incredible attitude towards a supernatural phenomenon most of us associate with Walt Disney, JRR Tolkien and five-year-olds. Entitled, quite literally, ‘Hidden People 102’, Nisha Inalsingh’s film debut tackles parallel universes, fairies, elves and all things three feet tall. Interviews with farmers and academics, politicians and priests, the young, the old, the superstitious and the rational, bear testament to the survival of ancient folkloric traditions in all segments of Icelandic society. Men in suits talk very seriously about the huldufolk’s invisible houses inside rocks and stones. The matter is taken so seriously, in fact, that parliamentarians agree to divert roads around potentially ‘inhabited’ rocks! It’s not, the interviewed invariably stress, that everybody believes in these invisible beings (though 10% of the population do admit to it), but rather that most refuse to deny the possibility (80% to be sure).


The Clearing – U.S. Premiere

Helen Watkins, 2006, 10 min., narr

The Argyll Forest, Loch Lomond, Scotland

Based on a true story this poetic story follows the journey of a woman dealing with the break down of a relationship. Photographer Beth embarks on a long drive back to her hometown in the north of Scotland. Travelling through the dramatic autumnal landscape she veers off the beaten track and into the woodlands where she happens upon a man in a clearing. Beth becomes aware that he has journeyed there with the intention of taking his own life. Their chance encounter gives Beth’s life a new perspective.

Q&A with both Nisha Inalsingh & Helen Watkins following the screening!


Is Montana as rural as it gets? They’ve got the most entries, owls, and water finders in this top notch shorts program… But the deep sea divers of Nicaragua, folk artists of the Ukraine, plastic lawn deer of New York City, techno bunnies of Germany, and hunting buddies of New York state look to give them a run for the rural best.

Montana – World Premiere

Ron Crawford, 2005, 6 min., doc
Central Montana
An easy-going visit with the grandeur and sweep of this vast spectacular landscape and its inhabitants large and small as they start a day, with side looks at history, relics and fauna, a small town and an afternoon “big sky” rain storm which results in a delightful visual treat. Director Ron Crawford also stars in Dancing Ground as the coyote-hunting grandpa (also in this program) which he was acting in when he made Montana in the Big Sky State back in ’05.


Master Dowser
Alison Koch and Stefanie Misztal, 2006, 8 min., doc
Bozeman, MT
Described by his wife as having an M.D. or ‘Master of Dowsing’, Vern Bandy helps local Montanans find water for their houses and farms. Requiring equal amounts of science and faith, the ancient practice of dowsing with a forked stick lives on today in the talents of Vern and his grandchildren.


The Games of These Divers
Moez Solis and Clint Humphrey, 2006, 10 min. segment, doc
Corn Island, Nicaragua

Games of These Divers is a fascinating, and often heart-wrenching, glimpse at the lives of lobster divers in Corn Island, Nicaragua. Economic necessity requires these men to risk their health, safety, sometimes their lives, diving to profound depths without appropriate gear, rest between dives, or medical attention. I found myself drawn into and moved by the lives and experiences of these simple, open-hearted people whose existance and culture is so different from my own. I recommend this film. For more info. on the 54 min. full length film, see

Elliott Kennerson, 2006, 12 min., doc
Flathead Lake, MT

‘Snowies’ concerns two young filmmakers’ trip to northern Montana to see an unusually big winter congregation of Snowy Owls near Flathead Lake.


Dear Deer – World Premiere
Alan Webber, 2007, 4.5 min., narrative
New York, NY

It’s an alternate take on nature vs. urbanity when a plastic lawn doe finds itself lost on the gritty streets of Brooklyn, NY. Survival story, and a folktale of newfound love – the bewildered deer gets “caught in the headlights” and hit by an oncoming car while trying to scamper across the street, but is found by a magical street faerie who nurses it, making bandages, food and water appear with a magic wand. The doe regains its health, and wanders back onto sunnier streets, and can’t believe its eyes when it happens upon something truly special under the Queensborough Bridge.


Dancing Ground
Tobin Addington, 2006, 14.5 min., narr
Judith Gap, MT
Dancing Ground is the story of Tom, a small town sheriff, who hauls his punk teenage son out across the Montana prairie in search of the kid’s grandfather…who’s wandered off on what used to be their ranch land with a gun. On a day like today, when anything could happen, Tom might get a chance to learn what it means to be a father…and a son.

Pictograph – NY Premiere – 35mm print!
Mišo and Lida Suchý, 2006, 21 min., exp
Kryvorivnya, Ukraine

Images by two artists – color folk drawings and b&w photography stills – are animated to create a tapestry weaving together vignettes of life in the village Kryvorivnya in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine.

Dominik Eulberg’s Rave Rabbit
Yvette Klein, 2005, 3.5 min., music video
forestry region of Westerwald, Germany

A strange trend is sweeping through the world of minimal techno music: an appreciation of nature. For Dominik Eulberg nature and bird watching take precedence over music, despite his success in the new critically acclaimed German techno scene that’s drawing attention from a hip, intellectual crowd world wide. “I only see myself doing music for a few more years,” says Dominik. “Then I’m going to be a full-time park ranger.”


Blood Ties – World Premiere
Eugene Lehnert, 2007, 6 min., narr
Sharon Springs, NY

A convict on death row turns to his twin brother for help to clear his name. This experimental narrative puts the convict’s pieces together in a fascinating way, showing the extremes he will go to in order to reunited with his one true love.


The Hunter – 35mm print!
Benjamin Gray, 2007, 20 min., narr
Highland Forest Park, in Fabius, NY
Every winter Tub hunts with childhood friends Frank and Kenny. He struggles to stay by Frank while Kenny calls him every fat-name in the book: Same as always. But this year something is wrong. Years’ worth of names burn into his ears. A gunshot rings out from deep inside a forest, rolling across snow-swept fields, filling valleys with its rumble. Based on the Tobias Wolff short story Hunters in the Snow.



The spotlight’s on rural kids, young folk – riding bikes and setting up lemonade stands in small towns, lost at the state fair, a girl searching for her ‘mermaid’ lost mother, mystic folklore, curses, and adventures with a magic book. Capping it all off is the heartwarming true story of a volunteer orphanage in a village in India.

Porch Stories
Marta Renzi, 2006, 7 min. segment, exp
North Adams, MA

Porch Stories is a tale told without dialogue; instead, characters and their relationships are revealed through movement and music. The action takes place during an afternoon-into-evening in a neighborhood of adjacent and sometimes intersecting lives, lived mostly outdoors on porches and stairs. The camera lingers on everyday movements: the hanging up of clothes, running back upstairs for a forgotten item, welcoming guests to the party that includes the whole neighborhood. With a multi-generational cast of performers, including the ubiquitous boys on bikes that populate any neighborhood in America, the Scrabble-playing gay guys from upstairs, and the next door neighbor who has more than the usual touch of poetry in her soul. For more info on the full length 17 min. film, see

Lemonade Stand
John Moore, 2005, 10 min., narr
Wilmington, NC
Every morning is the same. A little boy sets up his lemonade stand hoping for business from thirsty passers-by. The only person to ever pass his way is an old barfly on his way to the saloon. Despite smiles and fresh juice, he can never break the old man’s stride. However, fortune smiles on the kid when one day the old man finds his beloved watering hole suddenly closed. Witnessing this new misfortune, the kid quickly concocts a plan to finally get his first sale. Lemonade Stand is a heartwarming tale of life’s little lemons and what we make of them.

The Incredible dissappearing Book– 16mm print! – World Premiere
Jacob Burckhardt, 1999, 15 min., narr
Washington County, NY

This whimsical 16mm piece features non-professional kid actors – who keep turning invisible! Out frog hunting, some kids find a magic book on a floating raft. The powers of the book are amazing, but no one can seem to figure out how to control them… Adapted from a late 1940s Pogo Comics story by obscure but well-loved writer, Alfrred Darfler, with original music by Marc Ribot.

Chris Newberry, 2001, 8 min., narr
Minnesota State Fair

Separated from her mother, a young girl must find the courage to help a stranger despite daunting circumstances and bizarre surroundings. Shot on location at the Minnesota State Fair.

For a Swim with the Fish – NY Premiere
Tara Autovino, 2006, 9.5 min., narr
Weeki Wachee, FL

A girl, who believes that her ex-‘professional’ mermaid mother is alive, well, and living ‘in the Gulf of Mexico,’ skips school to pay her a birthday visit.

Aurora and the Sea – NY Premiere
Charlotte Taylor, 2006, 1 min., animation
Iowa City, IA

A girl’s stop motion animation journey to the sea, complete with paper maché and 3-D rain.

Bruce Johnson Jr., 2007, 3.5 min., exp
Covesville, VA
Three children embark on a journey to explore a chicken farm and discover unnoticed treasures. Iowa native Bruce Johnson teaches in the Media Studies Department at the University of Virginia.

Iris Moon – NY Premiere
Iskra Valtcheva, 2006, 13 min., narr
Austin, TX
Iris Moon is the coming-of-age tale of a young girl raised by her authoritative grandmother Maka. The old woman, a spinner and a weaver, has spun a dark secret around the disappearing of Iris’s parents. The mystery will be undone at the annual shadow puppet show that the two women put on for their gypsy neighbors. Its unraveling has the power to destroy or liberate. Dream symbols, myth, magic, and archetypal energies unite to tell a surreal, visually captivating story that will haunt you like a lucid dream.


Jewel in the Jungle
Barbara Malmet, 2006, 32 min., doc
Uttaranchal, India

Profiles an international volunteer project in rural Northern India that provides a loving home, a thriving school, and a vital medical clinic to orphans and villagers in an attempt to give a second chance to those whose fates would be unthinkable without this nurturing, unique environment. The project was inspired by a silent yogi named Sri Baba Hari Dass.



You are what you eat…so you’d better start paying attention to what exactly that is. These films provide a refreshing education on the current state of agriculture, and point out positive sustainable and organic practices that you can take part in. The Meatrix and Frankensteer expose the ways of unethical farming, while others provide us with role models through CSAs, Cuban community, sustainable lemon farms, organic choices, and a new wave of female farmers leading the way.

The Meatrix I, II, & II 1/2
Louis Fox, 2006, 10 min., animation
New York, NY

Our heroes Moopheus, Leo, and Chickity take the red pill, enabling them to see the horrific truth of what’s really going on with the food we eat today. They wage war on industrial agriculture, indecent dairy conditions, factory farm pollution, animal cruelty, and the horrors of meat processing, exposing the lies our society tells itself, vowing to turn things around. The Meatrix has been created and produced by Sustainable Table ( and Free Range Studios (


Ted Remerowski and Marrin Canell, 2005, 10 min. segment., doc
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada & U.S.A.

Frankensteer is a disturbing yet compelling documentary that reveals how the ordinary cow is being transformed into an antibiotic dependent, hormone-laced potential carrier of toxic bacteria, all in the name of cheaper food. Frankensteer reveals some startling facts. Every year 50% of the total tonnage of antibiotics used in Canada ends up in livestock. And every year cattle raised in massive feedlots are routinely dosed with antibiotics even if they are not sick. For more info. on the full length 48 min. film, see


Back to the Land…Again
Gretta Wing Miller, 2006, 20 min., doc
Back To The Land…Again presents the state of the art of organic agriculture today by highlighting the work and dedication of a collection of Wisconsin farmers. With their beautiful farms as its canvas, and their sustainable practices as its palette, Back To The Land…Again explores the emergence of the organic industry and its rising market share and the implications of the National Organic Standard for an audience that agrees that eating organically is ‘better for you’, but doesn’t have full understanding of, or trust in, the organic label, and demonstrates that organic agriculture is a means of reversing the decades-long disappearance of the family farm.

For more info. on full length 57 min film, see


Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
Faith Morgan, 2006, 20 min. segment, doc
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people. They share how they transitioned from highly mechanized agriculture to using organic farming and urban gardens. Cuba, the only country that has faced such a crisis, is an example of options and hope. For more info. on full length 54 min. film, see


Good Stewarts – NY Premiere
Dulanie Ellis, 2006, 19 min., doc
Ventura County, CA
What is sustainable agriculture? Are strawberries that are grown organically but shipped 1,500 miles sustainable? Beyond assuming that it’s the farmer’s duty to be a good steward of the land, what role does the consumer or the governmental official play in ensuring that agriculture remains viable and we maintain our food security in this country? How can we help our farmers survive in the global marketplace? Many communities are asking these questions. Nowhere are these issues more critical than in Ventura County, California, with some of the richest topsoil in the world, with the urban pressure of Los Angeles knocking next door. Good Stewards is a call to action for us all.


Ladies of the Land – WORLD PREMIERE
Megan Thompson, 2006, 29 min., doc
Minnesota, Pennsylvania, NYC

Women are the fastest growing demographic in American agriculture, and they are doing things differently. While the average farm size in the U.S. has grown dramatically over the last 50 years, women tend to run smaller operations. Many choose organic and natural methods, in contrast to the highly mechanized and chemically-dependent farming that dominates the rest of the agricultural industry. And many women strongly value their relationships with the community, from selling their products at local markets, to using their farms as “de facto community centers.” Ladies of the Land takes us on a journey through America’s new heartland.


This year’s wild ‘n crazy film program w/a little glitz and a touch of grit. Tractor pulls, lawnmower races, truck drivin’ ladies, and the lowdown on a Pueblo Indian casino, plus a girl who dresses her boyfriend up in country boy farm clothes and drags him through the fields of Minnesota to fulfill her fantasies…

Sendas Huastecas: Huapangos
John Orentheher, 2005, 3 min. segment, doc
Huasteca Region, Mexico

An exploration of the music in the Huasteca region of the northern Gulf Mountains of Mexico as a form of expression and economic liberation of its players from traditional field work. For more info on the 33 min. full length version, email


Horsepower! Tractor Pulling in the American Heartland – NY Premiere
Cory Byers and Justin Francese, 2005, 7.5 min., doc
Hoyleton, IL

On one level, tractor pulling is the most basic of contests – a rivalry to determine who has the most powerful machine. However, over 12 classes of vehicles define tractor pulling, some using thousands of horsepower and multiple jet-fuel driven engines. They have one purpose – to pull thousands of pounds 300 feet. The pullers that run them are motivated by a love of adrenaline and a commitment to their rural community. Many have devoted years and limitless personal funds to the sport. In this documentary short, one uncle and nephew pulling team, Dennis and Rodney Schnitker, of Hoyleton, Illinois, describe the thrill of the pull, explain their thirty-year involvement, and reveal how they have consistently dominated the Midwest in their class.

Feathers and Coins
Ashley Tindall, 2006, 22.5 min., doc
Pojoaque Valley, NM

In the rural Pojoaque Valley in northern New Mexico, the Pojoaque Pueblo Indian casino is one of a dozen casinos stacked along the interstate between Albuquerque and Taos. The casino is at once a symbol to the Pueblo of its recent climb out of poverty and a symbol to its non-Indian neighbors of the devastating effects of gambling on the social and natural environment. From the dim, smoke-filled casino to the Pueblo’s expanding resort and golf course in the high desert, Feathers and Coins examines the complicated landscape of Indian gaming in one community, leaving us to wonder what has been traded to develop gaming as a ‘quick fix’ in the poorest parts of America.


Long Haul
Erin Hudson, 2006, 22 min., doc
Interstate 40 (MO, KS, NM), Interstate 15 (NV), and Interstate 80 (CA)
Barreling along American freeways from behind the wheel of their big rigs, three women truck drivers share their experience, humor and insight of driving eighteen-wheelers for a living. This short documentary enriches and challenges every preconceived notion of truck driving, while it seeks to understand what is gained and what is lost as a woman, a mother, and a trucker on the open road.


Oxymandias – NY Premiere
John Cantine, 2003, 4.5 min., exp
Apollo, PA
“Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!” The conception of this piece – equating the Shelley poem on time as the great leveler with the effects of a lawn tractor – is exactly the kind of thing that happens when you have 4 acres of lawn and a 42” mower. Too much time to think, too many exhaust fumes.

Wanderlust 2: Thunder on the Track – NY Premiere
Walter Forsberg, 2004, 5 min., doc
Creelman, Saskatchewan, Canada
Inspired by 1990s stock car crash videos, this micro-documentary gives a glance into the sensational Saskatchewan Lawnmower Racing Circuit. In the hallowed Winnipeg tradition of image degradation, this work demeans cinematic imagery into a bygone videoscopic era of the movies.

The Spawn of Pickerel Ron
Mike Maryniuk, 2003, 6 min., exp
Red River, Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada

Trouble is on the menu at the Selkirk spring buffet when giant pickerel caviar is the main course. Hand-processed and tinted.


Mr. Extion
Barry Battles and Griffin Hood, 2006, 11 min., narr
Jemison, AL
Two life long friends and aspiring filmmakers find that developing an original idea, with no budget, is hard to pull off…especially down South. Through the span of a day, the two reveal their true feelings on film, stereotypes, race, and each other.


Country Doll – WORLD PREMIERE!
Christopher Arcella, 2007, 30 min., narr
Minneapolis and Chaska, MN
Country Doll is a Minnesota story about young love and the confusion thereof. A boy meets a girl in Minneapolis who dresses him up in ‘hip’ trucker cap and rural clothes, and drags him helplessly along a foggy path through the surrounding farmlands in an attempt to fulfill her country boy fantasies.


A reflection on home and light (or lack thereof). Filmmakers take a closer look at where they’re coming from in personal docs “29 Places…”, “Cousin Kasyte”, and “The Whisperer”. These journeys take us through the Southeast U.S. to Lithuania and the Ukraine, and provide us with some pretty surprising results. “In the Glow” and “Alice Sees the Light” squint in on the topic of natural darkness and the difficulty of finding it, even in a rural setting.

Where You are is Not Where You are Going – NY Premiere
Jennifer Hardacker, 2006, 3 min., exp
Ann Arbor, MI
This short animation is a representation of the many places one can long for. Where You are… suggests a conflict of the best place to be: the open roads of the country, or the city vistas. The grass is truly always greener on the other side….or is there no place like home?

29 Places I Once Called Home – NY Premiere
Shannon Silva, 2006, 20 min, exp
East Coast Motels & Trailer Parks, San Marcos, Texas

This 20-minute, experimental documentary utilizes super 8mm and 16mm footage along with family interviews to explore the multi-layered connections between poverty, frequent relocation, substance abuse, family violence and memory instability. Through the well-intentioned, but still unreliable, voices of those closest to her as a child, the filmmaker attempts to wrangle a ‘truth’, any ‘truth’, out of their stories in hopes of supplementing her spotty memories and thus finding a way to finally own the elusive story of her childhood.


Cousin Kasyte
Stashu Kybartas, 2006, 28.5 min., doc
Ruškeliai, Lithuania
Stashu Kybartas visits Lithuania in search of the village where his grandfather was born. Although the fall of the Soviet Union allows the filmmaker to cross borders and search for origins, not having the usual guideposts of connections and remembered clues from the family makes this a strange and alienating odyssey. After it takes him months to access Lithuanian government records, it is wildly surprising that he finds his father’s cousin, Kasyte Pukevicine, someone who is not only related by blood, but someone whose temperament and view of life strike a chord within his own inner-self.


By Starlite
Antony Cherian, 2007, 13.5 min., doc
Beeville, TX
Like many South Asians, J.R. Lal makes his living running a roadside motel in rural America. In this documentary, J.R., the manager of the Starlite Motel in Beeville, near the Texas Gulf Coast, forms an unlikely bond with Melissa Cueva, a guest at the motel who has fallen on hard times. With Christmas around the corner, J.R. and Melissa talk about family, the holidays and the struggle to make ends meet.


In The Glow – NY Premiere
Stewart Copeland, 2006, 8 min., exp
Interstates and highways between St. Louis, MO and Tullahoma, TN
Part personal film, part pseudo-scientific study and part observational essay, Copeland’s brief film explores the banal (yet strangely beautiful) world of blank billboards.


Alice Sees the Light
Ariana Gerstein, 2006, 6 min., exp
Owego and Barton, NY
Alice laments the loss of her view of the universe, one of her initial reasons for living in the country. The change in her environment is the result of “security lighting” for a large corporate storage facility.


The Whisperer
Andrea Odezynska, 2005, 30 min., doc
Utoropy, Ukraine
Andrea, a Ukrainian-American, hopes to escape the stresses of city life by embarking on a journey to the land of her ancestors. Accompanying a group of women on an excursion, she enters the village of Utoropy. Sensitive cinematography reveals the magic of a culture deeply connected to the earth that still exists in rural Western Ukraine. Elderly women sing ancient songs as a wedding procession follows the dirt path from the church. Andrea meets Baba Anna, a traditional healer who uses natural remedies and whispered incantations to cure ailments. Andrea is skeptical at first, but astounded by Baba Anna’s insight into her troubles. Wax is spilled onto water, negative energies banished through the wall, and Andrea leaves with a gift that transforms her life forever.



Our friends at Kentucky’s Appalshop have dug up a few recently preserved musical gems from their collection. The program will feature Nimrod Workman: To Fit My Own Category, a documentary film about the “singing coalminer,” as well as the short video Whoa Mule with musician Lee Sexton, and rare performance footage of mater banjoist Ralph Stanley and his band (featuring Keith Whitley and Ricky Skaggs playing with him in the back of a pick-up truck in the early 1970s for the opening of a new department store). Live ‘old-time’ music from Brooklyn’s Moonshiners before the program!

Whoa Mule
Herb E. Smith, 1989, 3 min., doc
Blackey, KY
The title song of banjo master Lee Sexton’s solo album is featured in this music video–one of the first and only traditional music videos to play on the country music cable channels. The video features scenes of Sexton behind a mule-drawn plow, tending to his three-acre garden in rural Linefork, Kentucky, and a performance of the Lee Sexton Band (which includes the spectacular fiddling of the late Marion Sumner) at a square dance at the Blackey Senior Citizens Center.


Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys
Found Footage, 1972, 10 min., doc
Pound, VA
This footage is believed to be the only extant video of what many consider to be the best Clinch Mountain Boys line-up: teenaged Keith Whitley and Ricky Scaggs, Curly Ray Cline, Jack Cooke and Roy Lee Centers. Centers, whose vocals bore an uncanny resemblance to those of Ralph’s deceased brother Carter, was shot to death by a woman’s jealous husband two years after this performance in 1974. This video, shot on now-obsolete ½-inch open reel tape, was retrieved from a dumpster by an Appalshop filmmaker in the early 1980s, and was recently preserved by the Appalshop Archive through a grant from the National Television and Video Preservation Foundation.


Nimrod Workman: To Fit My Own Category – brand new 16mm print!
Scott Faulkner and Anthony Slone, 1975, 35 min., doc
Chattaroy, Mingo County, WV

Born in 1895 in the hills of eastern Kentucky, Nimrod entered the mines at age 14 and in the early 1920s worked alongside Mother Jones in West Virginia, and participated in the Battle of Blair Mountain uprising. Forced to retire decades later due to black lung disease, he continued to sing at folk festivals and made appearances in the films Coal Miner’s Daughter and Harlan County U.S.A. In 1986 he received the National Endowment for the Art’s National Heritage Award in recognition of his ballad singing and musical repertoire. To Fit My Own Category is an intimate portrait of Nimrod and his wife Molly, who sang and performed together in later years. Nimrod reminisces about coalmining, union organizing, and his eighty-three years in the mountains, inter-cut with impromptu performances of ballads, including his own “Coal Black Mining Blues” and “Watergate Boogie.”


King Corn:


Don’t miss one of the year’s most important and entertaining films! With all the talk surrounding Michael Pollan’s newly infamous “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, this movie has come at the perfect time! It’s the smarter, hipper “Super Size Me” for a hopeful new age in which people have realized that our current state of agriculture is in big trouble.


“King Corn” is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In “King Corn”, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, nitrogen fertilizers, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat – and how we farm.

Rural Route is proud to co-present a special one-time-only ‘Sneak Peak’ screening of “King Corn” on September 22nd in Brooklyn, NY – see Rooftop Films for details