Sommer’s doc focuses on Illinois organic farm family

Third generation farmer Aozora Brockman

Beginning last September, award-winning documentarian Ines Sommer of Sommer Filmworks, kept farmers’ grueling dawn-to-dusk hours filming a farming family on their 12-acre organic in Central Illinois.

Sommer, producer, director and DP, is halfway finished with “A Season of Change on Henry’s Farm” amassing more than 50 hours of footage.

For three months, Sommer filmed the large, second and third generation Henry Brockman family in Congerville. She followed them on their annual three-day-marathon harvest and farm tour in which customers from throughout Illinois and surrounding states make their way to Henry’s Farm for a feast in the field.

Long interested in farming, both rural and urban, Sommer says the cycle of planting and harvest continues to crop up in her life. “I think it’s in my DNA. My best friend grew up on a farm, my grandparents farmed a small farm and I dated a farmer in high school. These farmers are following me!”

Sommer is in a second phase of crowd funding (Donate Now: “A Season on Henry’s Farm”) after initially raising $18,000 and spending $13,000 on production. She estimates she needs another $25,000 for post production.

The 14-minute fundraising demo for what will be a 30-minute film, edited by Liz Kaar, hones in on the labor intensive work of organic farming, as well as the joy the family receives from such a tight communion with the soil.

It is realistic and poignant if not poetic as the camera follows them into fields, home and along roads as they make the three-hour drive to the weekly Evanston Farmers Market.

The demo captures the wear-and-tear on the faces and hands of the Brockman family. Henry Brockman’s ledgers and field notebooks and also his daughter, Azoroa, a creative writing major at Northwestern University, telling of her wish to continue working on the farm, using its bounty as the basis for poetry and stories.

Sommer says she has hopes of filming Henry Brockman, who owns and runs the farm, in Japan where he is spending a year’s sabbatical working on organic farms and learning new farming methods. Sommer’s demo concludes with Henry Brockman at the airport, as he and his wife, Hiroko, boarding for their flight.

The doc, ideally suited for PBS airings, will open up the world of organic farming via community and school screenings and young people interested in becoming farmers.