[Note: This review of "Homegrown" initially appeared with reviews of "Farm for the Future" and "Food, Inc." -- the first of four sets of reviews for The Union newspaper.]
There is no farmer film more impressive than the story of the Dervaes family.Needing good farmer stories is basic, almost like needing food.
The film “Homegrown” tells the story of a farm scrunched around a 1500-square-foot home less than a mile from downtown Pasadena, CA.It butts next to the intersection of Interstates 210 and 134.They grow about 6000 pounds of food in a year on one tenth of an acre.There’s also a goat and some chickens.
The popular term is low carbon footprint, and the Dervaes family have been intensely active in this regard for 20 years.There commitment, however, seems to be more fundamentally fueled by a dedication to self-sufficiency. Jules Dervaes and his children, Justin, Anais, Jordanne, live and work at a modest yet ambitious ideal.Their shared devotion includes the evolving direction of papa Dervaes and his grown children.
Their bounty includes being satisfied with fresh produce that’s in season and generating satisfaction from the kitchen labors that follow their farming labors.It includes struggling for money when the cost of watering their compact crop rises significantly and restaurants buy less from them in a struggling economy.
Just the name of the film, “Homegrown,” and the name of their website, www.pathtofreedom.com, tells you much about the Dervaes family.They are inspirational.Most people will not walk the talk as thoroughly as they do, but they are an exemplary family.
= = = = = Q & A with "Homegrown" director Robert McFalls = = = = =
Chuck Jaffee: You have a well established career as a TV and film editor.Say something about taking on this documentary project as director as well as being the editor.
Robert McFalls: Most documentaries are “found” in post [after the filming has been done], so the editor is an important part of authorship. The director is more the driver than the editor. Editing suits my personality.With documentary editing, you get to be more of a storyteller.
CJ: How is it that you know the Dervaes family and got to make this film about them?
RM: I was looking for a project I wanted to do. I read an article about them.I liked the family aspect of their story. I contacted them.
CJ: What did you want the film to do?
RM: It seems like the economy and energy and environmental things are coming together in a way that it’s possible we’re going to have to do more of the kind of things the Dervaes family is doing, that we’ll have to get more back to our roots.Most people are just a few generations removed from being farmers.
CJ: What do you think makes the Jules Dervaes tick?
RM: Jules is a true believer, down the line. For telling a story, it’s good to have a person who’s true and driven by it.And yet, he’s vulnerable and warm.He’s a great character.