Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Fiction Takes on Big Ag in Feature Film RUNOFF

Food
Fiction Takes on Big Ag in Feature Film RUNOFF

Kimberly Levin’s gripping debut feature film RUNOFF is getting people talking about what goes into our food, the way we treat our land and water, and the ethical questions at the heart of everyday survival. Filmed on working farms, it’s a fictional work that has been called “Riveting,” (Variety), “Impressive” (The New York Times) “Amazing” (RogerEbert) and “A film you have to see” (Organic Authority).

https://vimeo.com/ondemand/runoff#t=3s

EcoWatch had the chance to interview Levin. Here's what she had to say about the film:

Q. What was the inspiration for RUNOFF?

A. I originally trained as a biochemist before getting into film and theater. So, the idea for RUNOFF goes back to some field biochemistry work I was doing in Kentucky, where I grew up. I was testing stream waters in a little tributary that fed Lake Cumberland, this gorgeous place with emerald water and limestone cliffs.

I helped to uncover that a textile plant was dumping raw effluent, untreated wastewater into the little stream, which flowed into the lake, which is also the state’s largest tourist attraction, a place where people get their drinking water and go fishing.

Activists and lawyers picked up on the research and eventually got the plant closed, which was a huge victory on one hand. But the factory was relocated—beyond some border, to another community. I was haunted that the problem wasn’t solved; it was just someone else’s now.

I started thinking about how we make difficult decisions about what we prioritize, about how wide we draw the circle around ourselves when we make these tough choices.

When my back is against the wall, and I have to decide between the lesser of evils, who’s inside my circle? Is it me and my family? My neighbors? How far out does my sense of community and responsibility extend? That’s not the story you see on screen in RUNOFF, but those are some of the themes I was thinking about when I sat down to write.

Q. RUNOFF tells the story of a woman up against a threat posed by a big Monsanto-like company. And yet, unlike a lot of Hollywood movies, it’s open-ended, and the protagonist Betty isn’t exactly a heroine. Can you talk about why?

Read page 1

A. I think that meaningful change happens when people connect the dots, when they come to an idea themselves. RUNOFF invites the audience to do this. It’s not a David-and-Goliath story that ends with a triumphant victory and makes us feel like all the work has been done for us. In RUNOFF, Betty and Frank are caught in a real ethical dilemma, which asks the audience to bring their own personal narrative and world-view to the table, to look a little deeper.

Q. The film has a lot to do with pesticides and herbicides and other nonsense that gets into our food. Have you had any response from farmers or been attacked by big agribusiness?

A. RUNOFF is a character study first and foremost. We’ve had lots of farmers respond to the film because they see themselves in Betty and Frank.

If the film has a hidden agenda, it is to start inclusive conversations, particularly among parties that have trouble finding common ground. By fictionalizing and hopefully humanizing characters who are painted into a corner, we can expand the conversation. Because it’s going to take everyone coming to the table to fix the problems we’re facing.

Q. What effect do you hope the film will have?

A. As a fiction, I hope it will engage an audience well beyond those who typically see all of the amazing docs out there in this space. After seeing RUNOFF, there are always incredibly lively and lengthy post-screening discussions. We get kicked out of the theater, the conversation extends to the hallways and out the door. I hope that RUNOFF gets the audience thinking about how legacy is something that seems very far away but in fact it’s right in front of us.

RUNOFF is in select theaters and on digital platforms across the U.S. and Canada.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Two New Major Studies Link Pesticides to Decline of Honeybees

30 Whales Have Died Off the Coast of Alaska and No One Knows Why

Male Fish Found to Have Female Parts

Could mouthwash help stop the spread of the new coronavirus? Craig F. Walker / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Could mouthwash help stop the spread of the new coronavirus?

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

This turtle dove is part of Operation Turtle Dove; the European Commission estimates there may be fewer than 5,000 pairs left in the UK. Ian / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Naomi Larsson

For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.

Read More Show Less

Trending

We pet owners know how much you love your pooch. It's your best friend. It gives you pure happiness and comfort when you're together. But there are times that dogs can be very challenging, especially if they are suffering from a certain ailment. As a dog owner, all you want to do is ease whatever pain or discomfort your best friend is feeling.

Read More Show Less
Swimming alongside an animatronic dolphin, a person learns about hydrodynamics. Edge Innovations

Life-sized, ultra-realistic robotic dolphins could help end animal captivity by replacing living creatures in aquariums and theme parks.

Read More Show Less
A Stop the Money Pipeline protester holds a banner outside JP Morgan headquarters in NYC on Feb. 25, 2020; JP Morgan is a top contributor to the fossil fuel industry. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch