Sunday, February 26, 2017

Video: Peter And The Farm - Official Trailer


On Oscars weekend, let's have a look at the one 2016 motion picture that was filmed in Springfield, Vermont.

“PETER AND THE FARM”: Because organic farming isn’t all cute hipsters with babies and beards. Sometimes it is a cranky guy pushing 70, like Peter Dunning of Mill Hill Farm in Springfield, Vermont. He’s been farming 35 years in this spot, raising sheep and milking his cow and talking to his border collie. And he has persisted as wives and children and girlfriends have come and gone, and apparently, not looked back on the life or the man they left. “I could, in front of you, call all of my children and not one of them would answer the phone,” Dunning tells director Tony Stone and his small crew. He’s depressed. He’s a self-professed alcoholic. But he loves and needs his farm, and this is a brutally realistic look at what it means to be utterly consumed by and devoted to farm work. To get this close to a subject – who is suicidal at one point – is remarkable.

–Mary Pols, Portland Press Herald


Reviews:

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www.washingtonpost.com

www.nytimes.com

www.indiewire.com



  • It all works for two reasons. One, Peter is a compelling, sad, cantankerous subject and carries the film like a legitimate movie star. Two, the warts-and-all filmmaking style reads as earnest and caring. We watch this film with empathy because the filmmakers made it with exuberance, concern and love for their endlessly complicated subject and friend.
  • Both filmmaker and subject share a deep appreciation of the land. Stone revels in the farm’s elemental allure, punctuating Dunning’s tales with tactile, expressive images of the bucolic surroundings, from serene landscapes to a most spectacular shot of bovine defecation. Long after the amusement factor wears off, Peter and the Farm continues to look and listen, finding a profound way of conveying what it’s like to grapple with depression.
  • With this rueful, cantankerous yet hugely charismatic figure at its center, Tony Stone’s beautiful documentary reveals the twin burdens of working the farm alone while beating back an encroaching inner darkness. “Peter and the Farm” isn’t afraid to get dirt under its fingernails, which may turn off the weak-stomached, but those same visceral qualities are essential to understanding a man who cannot be separated from the land.
  • When you call cows, you say co'boss. And when you call sheep, you say co'da. This information is relayed to us in the first few minutes of Peter and the Farm by Peter Dunning, who's lived and worked on 187 acres near Brattleboro, Vermont, for the lion's share of his life. We catch a glimpse of that life in Tony Stone's immersive documentary, which proves to be less an idyllic paean to the salt of the earth and more a reminder that all of us will eventually return to the earth.
  • It's a very unusual and rare kind of movie: one that is good in spite of itself. Which isn’t to say that the movie’s director and co-producer Tony Stone doesn’t make some provocative, interesting choices... The movie succeeds because Dunning really is, well, interesting. In spite of his disease, he maintains a spectacular work ethic, maintaining his land and his animals obsessively, driven near-mad by the sheer repetition of his tasks yet showing unyielding devotion.
  • The bilious and beautifully shot Peter and the Farm contains many moments of its subject talking about the film to the filmmakers. He jokes about abandoning the farm and moving to Hollywood, and he asks Stone what his footage is “picking up on.” If Dutton’s willful self-destruction sometimes tests the limits of the viewer’s sympathy, at least the documentary retains an openness of form that feels hopeful in its own way.
  • Dunning is a complex character; laden with anger and regrets, yet continually trying to keep good spirits. Stone’s job is made fairly easy with a natural storyteller as a subject, one with a wealth of personal anecdotes including those about his hippie-inflected past as an artist and sculptor. However, the faint of heart and weak of stomach may waver.
  • The film is distinguished by its patience. A few gorgeous shots circle objects or animals and then pan left or right, establishing the space of Mile Hill Farm and the beasts that keep Dunning company. His voluble commentary unfurls at length, pivoting from bombast to startling intimacy. Though Dunning has a flair for drama, Stone's presentation of him never feels anything less than emotionally direct.
  • Dunning is an unforgettable figure, King Lear crossed with the Fool (at one point he starts singing West Side Story’s “Jet Song” for what’s initially no apparent reason), and that’s probably enough to justify the film’s existence. But watching him reflect on the sorry wreck that his life has become is no less tough than watching him struggle to unjam his rifle after shooting a lamb in the head the first time he fails to kill it. The desire to look away is strong.


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