Friday, November 13, 2009

[screenings/discussion] The Joan P. Mencher Lectures: We are What We Eat

'The picture becomes evidence of the general human condition. It accuses nobody and everybody.'

- John Berger

‘We’ve begun to eat our own limbs’

- Arundhati Roy

As the world tilts increasingly and unsustainably top heavy and as many species, tribes, lives and livelihoods are looking towards extinction and the human imagination is deluded and curtailed; the need of the hour is first, the lucid understanding of the human condition and how the bigger global trends are affecting and shaping our lives on a day to day and very intimate basis. Renowned anthropologist Dr. Joan P. Mencher has been working for many years in India on topics that are increasingly acquiring urgency across the globe- sustainable agriculture, inequitable food distribution, climate change, the condition of the farmers. It is an honor for Bangalore Film Society to present ‘The Joan P. Mencher Lectures: We are What We Eat’, a series of film screenings and discussions, as the professor herself introduces us to the complex world of our daily bread- the history, the systems, the structures, the intrigues, the deceits, the stories of tragedy, and of hope.

Friday 20th November, 2009 Time: 6.30pm

Screening of the ‘The Story of Stuff’ (20min)

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

Introduction to ‘The Joan P. Mencher Lectures: We Are What We Eat’ by Dr. Mencher.

Screening and discussion of ‘Fresh’ (90min) A Film by Ana Sophia Joanes

Filmmaker Ana Sofia Joanes takes a close look at the innovative alternatives to industrial food production that have been championed by visionaries from around the country: urban farmer and activist Will Allen, sustainable farmer and entrepreneur Joel Salatin, and Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, among others. Where our current system fails us by contaminating the soil, water, and sometimes the food itself, smaller scale sustainable practices offer a hopeful new vision of healthier land, animals, and, ultimately, people. Fresh celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision of a future of our food and our planet

Saturday 21st November, 2009 Time: 6.30pm

Talk by Dr.Joan Mencher "Women and Alternative Visions for the Future of food in India"

Screening and discussion of ‘The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil’ (53min)

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba's economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people during this difficult time. Cubans share how they transitioned from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens. It is an unusual look into the Cuban culture during this economic crisis, which they call "The Special Period." The film opens with a short history of Peak Oil, a term for the time in our history when world oil production will reach its all-time peak and begin to decline forever. Cuba, the only country that has faced such a crisis – the massive reduction of fossil fuels – is an example of options and hope.

Sunday 22nd November, 2009 Time: 6.30pm

Screening and discussion of ‘Thirst’ (65min) A film by Alan Snitow and Deborah Kauffman

Global corporations are rapidly buying up local water supplies. Communities suddenly lose control of their most precious resource. “Thirst”, a character-driven documentary with no narration, reveals how water is the catalyst for explosive community resistance to globalization. A piercing look at the conflict between public stewardship and private profit.

Screening and discussion of ‘Caminos- The Immigrant’s Trail’ (20min)

Caminos: The Immigrant's Trail traces a group of U.S. and Canadian citizens retracing the immigrant trail from El Paso, Texas to Oaxaca, Mexico. This documentary, based on our summer 2007 trip led by Food First executive director, Eric Holt-Giménez, reveals some of the factors that drive these migrants to leave their families and risk their lives to seek work in the U.S. Hear the stories of Mexican farmers who were driven off their land by U.S. farm subsidies and the globalization of food trade.


Venue: Ashirvad, 30, St. Mark's Road cross, Op. State Bank of India


Joan P. Mencher is an Emerita Professor of Anthropology from the City University of New York's Graduate Center, and Lehman College of the City University of New York. She is the chair of an embryonic not-for-profit called The Second Chance Foundation, which works to support rural grassroots organizations in India and the United States who work with poor and small farmers on issues of sustainable agriculture. She has worked primarily in South India but also in West Bengal briefly, on issues of ecology, caste, land reform, agriculture, women, and related issues over the last half century, and has published widely both in the United States and in India on all of these subjects, primarily in academic journals.

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