The Gene Siskel Film Center will host virtual screenings of the new locally-produced documentary “Seasons of Change on Henry’s Farm” beginning Friday, August 14.
Set on an idyllic family farm in Central Illinois, “Seasons of Change on Henry’s Farm” (USA, 83 minutes) follows organic farmer Henry Brockman as he grapples with the future of farming on personal, generational, and global levels. Many Chicago area residents know of Henry via his large farm stand at the Evanston Farmers Market, where he has been selling vegetables for over 25 years.
Director Ines Sommer, a local filmmaker and longtime member of Chicago’s independent filmmaking community who is also on the faculty at Northwestern University, weaves together the stories of Henry, his wife Hiroko, daughter Aozora, and the young interns who struggle to maintain the farm during epic flooding that takes place while Henry and Hiroko are on a year’s sabbatical in Japan. According to the Gene Siskel Film Center, Sommer presents “an absorbing inside look at sustainable farming with a lyrical feeling for nature and a stirring portrait of a down-to-earth idealist.”
When director Ines Sommer first started filming on Henry’s Farm six years ago, she says “the setting seemed idyllic and I loved recording the subtle sights and sounds of nature. Henry Brockman was working in harmony with nature and climate change seemed a distant threat for the Midwest. But during the course of filming, flooding became much more frequent and the effects of climate change unfolded right in front of our eyes.”
Winner of the “Best Documentary” award at the Vail Film Festival, “Seasons of Change on Henry’s Farm” was originally slated for a theatrical run at the Gene Siskel Film Center in April. But when physical theaters had to close their doors, the filmmakers had to pivot and adapt to reaching audiences online instead – thanks to the “Film Center from Your Sofa” program, viewers can now watch this important documentary about food production and climate change in the Midwest from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
An online Q&A with the filmmakers and farmer Henry Brockman will be one of the ways for viewers to engage around topics raised by the film.
Co-producer Terra Brockman says, “No matter if you’re concerned with climate change, sustainable farming, our food systems, or a related topic, we look forward to having you view the film, and then join the post-screening discussion.” She adds that farms like Henry’s that practice regenerative farming can adapt and continue to feed their communities — not only through floods, droughts, and fires exacerbated by climate change, but also through pandemics that disrupt global food supply chains.
Director Ines Sommer says, ”Food is fundamental. Seasons of Change on Henry’s Farm shows how food production in the Midwest is already being impacted by climate change and raises questions that are relevant for all of us, because we all eat!”
Viewers will be able to purchase tickets and access the film via the Gene Siskel Film Center’s website.