Hamptons Doc Fest, In Partnership With Southampton Arts Center, Celebrates Earth Day With Docs Equinox

Hamptons Doc Fest, in partnership with the Southampton Arts Center, inaugurates spring by kicking off Earth Day Week with its annual Docs Equinox celebration that this year revolves around the theme of “Cultivating Connections: Soils, Farms, Food.”

“We are so excited to once again partner with Hamptons Doc Fest on Docs Equinox, a program that celebrates Earth Day and focuses on the environment, our soil, our farms, and our food,” said Christina Strassfield, executive director of the Southampton Arts Center.

The weekend includes three days of programming at Southampton Arts Center on April 12, 13, and 14 that features welcoming food and wine receptions on Friday and Saturday, Sunday breakfast treats, four environmentally-focused documentary films, related speakers, plus a special “Earth Central” information hub with four important environmental groups — ChangeHampton, the Cornell Cooperative Extension, East End Food, and the Peconic Land Trust — which will all distribute literature, share tips and new ideas.

On Friday, April 12, the cocktail reception and Earth Central Hub takes place from 5:30 to 7 PM, followed by a 7 PM film and talk with Robert Kenner and Melissa Robledo, the directors of the film to be screened, “Food, Inc. 2: Back for Seconds,” which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, as a sequel to the 2008 Oscar-nominated film “Food Inc.” The film features innovative farmers, food producers, and prominent legislators such as U.S. Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Jon Tester of Montana, who are all working to build a healthier, more sustainable food industry that isn’t dominated by mammoth multinational corporations that proliferate chemically-formulated and ultra-processed foods.

“Meaningful change is going to require breaking up the handful of very large and very powerful companies that dominate the food industry,” said Kenner and Robledo.

The Saturday, April 13 program also begins with a cocktail reception and Earth Central Hub from 5:30 to 7 PM, followed by an intro to Saturday night’s film “Common Ground” by Kate Plumb, a food activist and longtime Sag Harbor resident. Plumb heads the Sag Harbor and East Hampton Farmers Markets and co-founded Slow Food East End and the East End Community Organic Farm (EECO Farm) in East Hampton.

An eye-opening documentary, “Common Ground,” directed by Josh Tickell and Rebecca Tickell, explores the sweeping changes that have taken place in our food system over the past 50 years and attempts to find a “common ground” or agreement on how regenerative farming both by large scale and small-scale farmers — white, Black, and indigenous — can be used to improve the soil, food, and people’s health.

The film, narrated by Laura Dern and other actors/environmental activists, has garnered many awards, including the Best Human/Nature Film at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival, where it premiered, the Best Documentary Feature and Audience Award at the Palm Springs Film Festival, the Best ECO Film at the Boston Film Festival, and the Best Documentary at the Santa Barbara Indie Film Festival.

It’s a sequel to the widely influential documentary, “Kiss the Ground,” which inspired the U.S. Department of Agriculture to invest $20 billion in soil health.

The final day of Docs Equinox, Sunday, April 14, will start with Coffee and Breakfast Bites at 11 AM, followed by an 11:45 AM talk by farmer and poet Scott Chaskey, long-time head of Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett, a pioneer in the Community Supported Agriculture movement, who will speak about his latest book of essays, “Soil & Spirit,” which will be available for sale.

This will be followed at noon by two short films.

Patty Gentry, the Brookhaven farmer, whose Early Girl Farm is featured in “The Soul of a Farmer.”

“The Soul of a Farmer,” directed by Roger Sherman, shadows Patty Gentry, who has been dubbed “the Picasso of vegetables!” by actress Isabella Rossellini, from whom she rents her Early Girl Farm in Brookhaven. Gentry, a former long-time chef, now sells her organic produce to restaurants. Both she and Rossellini will appear in a Q&A afterward.

“Kelp!,” directed by Anna Roberts and Caylon La Mantia, is an uplifting film documenting the superpowers of kelp and how it can regenerate our coasts and communities and perhaps even create biodegradable plastic.

“We hope you plan your start of Earth Day Week with us,” said Jacqui Lofaro, founder and executive director of Hamptons Doc Fest, “as we dig into the East End’s rich soils created eons ago by the ancient glaciers and explore sustainable farming under the theme of ‘Cultivating Connections: Soils, Farms, Food.’”

Tickets each day are $20, $15 for SAC members, and $10 for students and children. A three-day pass is also available for $50 and $40 for SAC members. Tickets and information for the Docs Equinox screenings are available at hamptonsdocfest.com and southamptonartscenter.org.

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