After Winter, Spring
An intimate portrait of an ancestral way of life under threat in a world increasingly dominated by large-scale industrial agriculture.
Directed by Judith Lit
Produced by Terra Productions
Associate Producer: David Hurst
Cinematography: Stéphane Carbon
Editor: Jennifer Chinlund
Original Music: Todd Boekelheide
[Note: Community screenings of AFTER WINTER, SPRING can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]
"A beautifully shot film that takes complex issues of a globalizing food system and makes them relatable, personable and powerful." Dr. Jonathan Deutsch, Program Director, Hospitality Management, Drexel University
In an era of rapid growth of mega-farms, the encroachment of suburbia and new European Union rules and reductions of agricultural subsidies, the farmers in the Périgord region of southwest France are forced to confront challenges that threaten the very existence of their small farms.
Their story is recorded by one of their neighbors, an American filmmaker who grew up on her family's farm in Pennsylvania. Inter-weaving her story and theirs, the documentary explores the nature of the farming life and the rapid changes of the last two decades that have impacted the lives of families whose survival is tied to the land.
The Périgordine farmers show us that as agriculture moves out of the hands of families who have farmed for generations and into a model of "agriculture as business," something fundamental shifts. This farming community caught between tradition and an uncertain future struggles to hold on not only to their farms but to a set of values that comes of their intimate relationship with the natural world. AFTER WINTER, SPRING reveals the human story of family farming at a turning point in history.
Grade Level: 7 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2015
Copyright Date: 2015
DVD ISBN: 1-94154-527-0
"I love this film. After Winter, Spring is a beautiful and intimate look into the lives of contemporary French peasants who heroically struggle to maintain the dignity of traditional, tactile ways in an age of EU homogenization. It makes a compelling case for reimagining the policy assumptions that take us down a no-exit pathway for larger scale, increased efficiency, and standardization...Must see! Must share with USA farmers whose link to traditional practices has faded. This is an important and original film."
Richard McCarthy, Executive Director, Slow Food USA
"In the decades to come, After Winter, Spring could serve as an important record of the world's transition from one era to the next. If we're lucky, the film will also inspire a sense of urgency in today's audiences, as they consider what they want from their food systems."
Kristina Johnson, Civil Eats, James Beard Award for Excellence, Publication of the Year 2014
"With beautiful imagery and poignant narration, the film makes it clear that the caring for field and fowl are really issues of the heart and staying connected to the land is vital to our understanding of what it means to be human."
John Rife, film critic and founder of East End Market
"A personal and deeply moving story...After Winter, Spring shares first-hand accounts of the daily struggles and simple pleasures of those who still make their living from the land...As we push to maximize farming efficiency and output it is important to understand what we lose in the process. This is a thought-provoking film for anyone interested in the future of farming and food, but especially important for today's young, aspiring farmers and food-policy activists."
Sean Clark, Associate Professor of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Director of Berea College Farm, Berea College, Co-editor, Fields of Learning: The Student Farm Movement in North America
"A cinematically beautiful, heartwarming, sometimes discouraging, and sometimes optimistic look into the lives of the region's farming community...It elicits a recognition that we are part of this rhythm, connected to people and the natural world in all times and in our own place."
Cherice Bock, Whole Terrain
"Uplifting...This beautiful film will be remembered long after viewing; recommended for all audiences."
Christine Rigda, Univ. of Toledo, Library Journal
"Highly Recommended...An honest and realistic contribution to public awareness of the major issues related to small-scale farming...Can be used to bolster discussions in subjects related to sustainable agriculture, business, globalization, small-scale farming, and preservation of local identity."
Irina Stanishevskaya, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Educational Media Reviews Online
"Make no mistake, this film doesn't only speak of loss and disillusionment, but also of renewal and a perhaps even of hope."
Anne Belchit, Sud-Ouest
"In an era of films pointed in their messages and short on subtlety, After Winter, Spring compels the viewer to reconsider the costs of 'progress' through a deft weaving of spectacular pastoral landscapes and fragile agricultural traditions. The villagers' vignettes beg to be more than echoes of a receding past, as one small village tells a global story in its own quiet way."
Philip Ackerman-Leist, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, Director of the Farm and Food Project, Green Mountain College, Author, Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems
"The film is never less than a pleasure to watch."
Brian Miller, Seattle Weekly
"The stunningly beautiful landscape of the Périgord region of France provides the backdrop to this story about the changing face of small-holder agriculture in modern Europe, as seen through the eyes of the region's farmers. The parallels to American agriculture are impossible to miss. The insights these farmers offer about the business and lifestyle of farming, the challenges created by large scale, industrial agriculture and EU regulation, as well as their individual solutions to them, speak to the indomitable character and perpetual optimism of farmers everywhere, so effectively articulated by the title, After Winter, Spring."
Gary S. Kleppel, Professor of Biological Sciences, University at Albany-SUNY, Author, The Emergent Agriculture: Farming, Sustainability and the Return of the Local Economy
"After Winter, Spring is a beautifully shot film that takes complex issues of a globalizing food system and makes them relatable, personable and powerful...The film can make issues like subsidies, development and industrialization salient through the family farmers of the Périgord and their struggles between tradition and change."
Dr. Jonathan Deutsch, Professor and Program Director, Hospitality Management, Culinary Arts, and Food Science, Drexel University, Co-author, They Eat That? A Cultural Encyclopedia of 'Weird' Foods from Around the World
"How is it possible to speak of this film without underlining the beauty of the landscapes, the sensitive, poetic, and emotional camera that crosses the Périgord."
A. Champeaux, L'Écho
"A tender, thought-provoking, and visually beautiful look at a vanishing way of life. The characters we meet in the film are real human beings with both real problems and a real affection for the land. It is encouraging to see people who continue to cleave to the old ways in the face of the modern threats of industrialization, consolidation, and bureaucratic regulation. The film does an excellent job of explaining the challenges of being a traditional agriculturist in the era of the rapid expansion of both farm size and farm mechanization. Some of the most useful segments of the film are those that document some of the actual processes and procedures of the traditional lifestyle of the rural Périgord. "
Jeffrey P. Miller, Associate Professor, Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Colorado State University
"A moving portrait of small family farms...Her lens reveals both the tenuous future of farms where the younger generation has moved away, and the reinvigoration of organic farming by young families attracted to a life in touch with nature...After Winter, Spring is a 'must see' for people interested in environmental preservation, farm to table food production, traditional knowledge systems, and the future of agriculture."
Mervyn L. Tano, President, International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management
In French and English, with English narration, English subtitles, SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and scene selection
5.1 surround sound on theatrical version
Host a community screening
The film's website
Awards and Festivals
Best Foreign Documentary, Arizona International Film Festival
Audience Award, Mill Valley Film Festival
Jury Award, Caméras Des Champs
Seattle International Film Festival
Florida Film Festival
Mendocino Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival
International Ecological TV Festival "To Save & Preserve," Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia
Everett Film Festival
Berkshire International Film Festival
Greenbuild Film Festival
Williams College Fresh Fest
Terra Madre Slow Food International
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... more Reviews
"Outstanding photography and a compelling story...Through emotional stories of family farmers in the Périgord region of Southwest France, we are confronted directly with the challenges the world faces in providing healthy food without decimating the environment."
Mr. Jerry Apps, Professor Emeritus of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Author, Old Farm: A History, and The Quiet Season
"Rather than telling us what we should think about change, After Winter, Spring shows us lives connected to the land, emotions without tears, rough and tumble analyses filled with common sense, revealing perseverance, unfailing instinct, and the determination to continue."
Christian Séguin, Portrait du mois, Sud-Ouest de Dimanche
"Achingly lovely...From the idealistic couple starting a tiny organic operation to the 88-year-old vintner/philosopher...are marvelous. Facing tough times, they love their animals and their land with inspiring hope."
Bethany Jean Clement, The Stranger
"A remarkable film that captures and celebrates the beauty of the sadly disappearing peasant/farmer lifestyle in rural France. A must see for anyone serious about good food and where it comes from."
L. John Harris, Zester Daily
"With fascinating detail, After Winter, Spring captures the tenacity of the people who have taken one season at a time for generations...An insightful, lyrical tribute to a way of life on the verge of extinction."
Florida Film Festival
"A rare and intimate view into what is too quickly becoming a lost world...We are given a profound understanding of what it means to live in concordance and partnership with the earth."
Susan Griffin, Author, A Chorus of Stones, and Woman and Nature
"After Winter, Spring is more than a documentary. It's a document for the future."
Germinal Peiro, Deputy to the French National Assembly, Secretary of Agriculture for the Socialist Party
"It's a film that shows the challenges facing traditional farms everywhere. A realistic and sensitive film, it offers a true picture of the life of farm families struggling to make a living by working the land. It deserves a wide audience."
Robert L. Carlson, United Nations Special Ambassador, International Year of Family Farming
"Thought-provoking and memorable, After Winter, Spring is highly recommended."
Midwest Book Review
"When students and others are learning about agriculture and the natural and social sciences, After Winter, Spring is an appropriate resource that can engage and inform them about challenges and opportunities associated with contemporary, sustainable, local farming alternatives."
Vincent N. Lunetta, Science Books and Films