Emmy-winning filmmaker Jeff Spitz’ feature-length documentary, “Food Patriots,” shows how Midwest schools and communities can transform lives and communities with just a 10% approach to better food production in the rapidly-growing food revolution.
Spitz, a Columbia College professor, says college students are his most important audience, because “college is the first place where young people get to decide on their own what they are going to eat.”
Directed by Spitz and co-produced with his wife, Jennifer Amdur Spitz, through their Groundswell Educational Films “Food Patriots,” highlights the initiatives of Midwest individuals, who are pioneering a food revolution through local, organic, and sustainable agriculture.
Spitz, admittedly not a gardener, began thinking about the disconnect between food and health when his son, Sam, battled an antibiotic-resistant, food borne superbug while attending high school.
After Sam’s recovery, Amdur Spitz adopted backyard chickens to better acquaint her family with growing their own food. “When people see me chasing my free range chickens they laugh and become much more receptive to the ideas and characters in the film,” Spitz says.
Three years in the works, hundreds of interviews
Working with a $250,000 budget, Spitz spent three years on the doc. He and his crew of 16 collected hundreds of interviews from “food patriots.”
They interviewed many of Chicago’s own urban agricultural super heroes, including Ken Dunn of City Farm, Sheelah Muhammad of the Fresh Moves bus and LaManda Joy of the Peterson Garden Project, as well as chefs, athletic trainers, educators, and college athletes who are doing their part in a national food revolution.
“Food Patriots” claims that only a 10% change could propel a nationwide transformation toward healthier food and a better, more sustainable food industry.
“We tend to see chefs and privileged white people in the lead because they command the resources. Corporations dominate our bellies. We can force them to change by degrees by shifting how we eat and how we buy food,” Spitz says.
“Audiences are hungry for a new kind of story about real steps that anyone can take. Teenagers and typical consumers tell us that they just want to take a small step and that’s what the film celebrates.”
DPs who worked on the doc were Mitch Wenkus, Arlen Parsa, Mark Eveslage, Dana Kupper, Naomi Ezquivel, Matt Sezer, Martin P. Moser, Jr., Matt Mandanno, Spits and Jennifer Amdur Spitz.
Sound operators were Ben Stockton, Patrick Tilman, Lorian Toth, Arlen Parsa, Mitch Wenkus, Jen Kienzler; Stephen Wilke was the sound mixer.
“Food Patriots” will formally premiere Feb. 19 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 5:30-8:30 p.m., free and open to all.
The Spitzes also have recorded and published webisodes of the film’s travels thus far, showing how audiences participate in the Food Patriots movement.
Laura Kinter, a Vassar graduate who majored I screenwriting and English is a screen, stage, and publication writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.