With industrial agriculture seemingly thriving in India, why have a staggering 250,000 farmers committed suicide in the past 16 years? Touching down in Telung Takli, intrepid documentarian Micha X. Peled traces the roots of this epidemic to an all-too-familiar villain: biotech giant Monsanto. Furthermore, he discovers that he’s not the only investigator on the case. Also seeking answers (and solutions) is aspiring journalist Manjusha Amberwar. Having lived through her father taking his own life, she now wants to stop other farmers—including her distraught uncle—from meeting an identical fate. Her quest not only requires her to knock on doors but also to break through India’s glass ceiling for women.
After his scathing exposés of big box retailers (Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town) and sweatshops (China Blue), Peled completes his "globalization trilogy" with a film that’s not only a stirring piece of investigative journalism but also a gripping life and death drama.
"The crisis depicted in Bitter Seeds is all the more dire when you consider that half the world’s population are farmers. Peled could have turned his cameras… to any place that industrial agriculture has driven out the little guys. One reason the tiny Indian community of Telung Takli makes sense is Amberwar—a compelling central character whose personal story raises additional issues about gender, class and non-farming employment opportunities." Peter Debruge, Variety
“Films like this can change the world.” Alice Waters
“A tragedy for our times, beautifully told, deeply disturbing.” Michael Pollan
Filmmaker Micha X Peled is our guest to introduce specific screenings and participate in a FREE panel discussion exploring these issues on Sunday May 19, 8.30pm. The panel will be moderated by Charlie Smith, Editor of the Georgia Straight.
Tzeporah Berman, Environmental activist and author of This Crazy Time, . Considered "Canada's Queen of Green."-Readers Digest, Tzeporah Berman has been successfully designing and managing green campaigns for nonprofits for the last two decades, leading Bill McKibben to call her "a modern environmental hero." She currently works as a strategic advisor for dozens of environmental organizations, First Nations and philanthropic advisors on clean energy, oilsands and pipelines. She is the former co-director of Greenpeace International's Global Climate and Energy Program, Executive Director and Co-founder of PowerUp Canadaand Co-founder and Campaign Director of ForestEthics.
Gerardo Otero is Professor of sociology and an associated professor of the School of International Studies at Simon Fraser University. His latest edited book is Food for the Few: Neoliberal Globalism and Biotechnology in Latin America (University of Texas Press, 2008, reissued in paperback in 2010), which is forthcoming in Spanish as La dieta neoliberal. His latest article, “The Neoliberal Food Regime in Latin America,” was published in the Canadian Journal of Development Studies in 2012. In co-authorship with Gabriela Pechlaner and Efe Can Gürcan, he has a forthcoming article September 2013 in Rural Sociology: “The political economy of ‘food security’ and trade: uneven and combined dependency.”
Micha X Peled has made documentaries for broadcasters in the USA, Britain, France and Germany, winning over 20 awards along the way. His films were released theatrically in the U.S., Europe and Japan, and on DVDs in eight languages (officially). Micha made his first film in 1992, when his mother sent him the manuscript of her life story, which became Will My Mother Go Back to Berlin? When celebrated Los Angeles Times critic Charles Champlin wrote “it’s a damn good movie,” Micha believed him, quit his job to become a fulltime filmmaker, and never looked back. Not that it was all smelling the roses – he got out of Iran shortly before being exposed for filming illegally, in China his crew was arrested and his footage confiscated, and his shoot in Bombay’s central train station was cancelled when a terrorist group started shooting first. In New York the audience shouted, “Traitor” at the premier of You, Me, Jerusalem, which he co-directed with a Palestinian filmmaker. His Globalization Trilogy began in the U.S. with Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town about a small town fighting to keep out the world’s largest retailer. It was followed by China Blue, the story of a teenage Chinese girl who leaves her village to get a job in a jeans factory and descends into sweatshop hell. After a fiction short, Delinquent, he completed the final film in the trilogy, Bitter Seeds. The film looks at the farmers' suicide crisis in India, through the story of one farmer who grows cotton exported to China's garment factories.