An impressionist journey that sheds light on the daily strife of the world’s hungry farming class. In this era of industrialized agriculture, across the globe, people who produce food are paid less than almost any other profession. Part cinema vérité, part essay, this film examines the mechanisms by which farmers are falling into a somber cycle of despair, debt and dispossession.
He may have traveled through multiple continents to film the humble daily experience of small farmers, but the thing that Mathieu Roy best succeeds at capturing in The Dispossessed is time. We experience the weight of every second, every hour, every week lived by the protagonists, who we have to thank for our meals. With each moment, the seasons for sowing as for reaping mark a cycle that is suddenly not as universal as we once believed. Now in the Anthropocene, this grand universal order is threatened by chemistry, by business plans, by large-scale agricultural production control, by the monetized future of our relationship to land, by the debt load of farmers held captive by monoculture. And by the progressive ignorance of agricultural workers. The key moment in this documentary: a Western farm worker who, despite his agricultural degrees, says he only understood what his soil has been like for decades after having worked with it professionally. After having stripped it, essentially. What he has learned is simply the correlation between chemical additions that he administers and the production that follows. We watch as he is taken aback by the discovery of the millions of microscopic living species in this earth that he must kill under the auspices of making it fertile for the benefit of his creditors.
Mathieu Roy is a Montreal-based filmmaker, working in both documentary and fiction. After acquiring his degree in Political Science, he graduated from two film schools, the Montreal’s National Film Institute (INIS) and the New York Film Academy (NYFA). He received international prizes for his documentaries: François Girard's Three-Act Journey (2005), Ecclestone's Formula (2011), Surviving Progress (2011), The Dispossessed (2017). As a socially engaged filmmaker, he’s following the tradition of cinéma vérité. By addressing heavy and contemporary issues, he transports the viewer into a universe of disturbing truths.