Documentary about Occupy the Farm movement premieres Friday in Berkeley

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“Occupy the Farm,” a documentary chronicling the urban agricultural activist movement of the same name, premieres in Berkeley on Friday.

The film follows the Occupy the Farm movement, which began in April of 2012 when activists planted seeds on a portion of a university-owned plot of land in Albany to protest planned commercial developments on portions of the land.
The group disagrees with the development, contending that the land should be reclaimed for agricultural education and farming purposes.

“(The film) follows the ongoing debate — the ongoing struggle — about that land,” said Steve Brown, producer of the documentary. “The story we’re covering is pretty remarkable … the underdog, ordinary people, going out to do this against a huge institution.”

Having not yet seen the film, the campus could not comment on the film, according to spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

The documentary focuses primarily on the three-week period during which the movement initially occupied the UC Gill Tract Community Farm and began planting seeds, and it follows the developments up until this summer.

Since the original occupation, members of the movement returned to occupy the land last year in continued protest of development plans, which currently include a senior living center and a grocery store on land south of the Gill Tract Community Farm. The campus dispersed the group after two days.

According to Todd Darling, the film’s director, the idea for the documentary began with his interest in urban agriculture and the 2011 Occupy Oakland movement. For Darling, Occupy the Farm coalesced the ideas behind the two social movements.

“The documentary … captures the spirit of community formed on the Gill Tract,” said Lesley Haddock, spokesperson for the Occupy the Farm movement. “It really reflects the power of people coming together to farm.”

Brown and Darling planned to host the premiere of “Occupy the Farm” in Berkeley to make the film accessible to those who were involved as well as those who may not be aware of the movement. Brown initially came to Berkeley thinking that he would have to rent a small theater for a night to screen the documentary. To his surprise, the United Artists theater booked the film and will run it longer than expected.

Editing and distribution was funded in part through a Kickstarter campaign started by the film’s director. Contributions exceeded the fundraising goal of $30,000 by $2,235.

“Occupy the Farm” opens Friday at the UA Theater in Berkeley. After the initial release, the film will be screened in New York and Los Angeles.

Contact Sierra Stalcup at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @SierraStalcup.