‘Betting The Farm’ returns to Midcoast

Correction: evening show only at Colonial
Oct 10, 2012
Vaughn Chase of Mapleton is one of the Maine dairy farmers featured in “Betting The Farm.”

The Maine-made documentary “Betting The Farm” kicked off a screening tour as the opening night film of last month’s Camden International Film Festival. Produced by the North Haven-based Pull-Start Pictures, “Betting The Farm” is headed back to the Midcoast for screenings in Knox and Waldo counties the next couple of weeks.

The film is playing in towns large and small across the state through November. Local screenings are scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Colonial Theatre, 163 High St., Belfast; Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Strand Theatre, 345 Main St., Rockland; Saturday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. at Unity College Centre for the Performing Arts, 42 Depot St., Unity; and Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. at the Smith Hokanson Memorial Hall of the Vinalhaven School, 22 Arcola Lane.

“Betting The Farm,” a documentary film by Cecily Pingree and Jason Mann, follows three farm families as they risk everything to launch their new milk company, Maine’s Own Organic (MOO) Milk. The film premiered in front of sold-out crowds at the prestigious AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Film Festival in June. The filmmakers and characters from the film, including farmers Vaughn Chase of Mapleton, Aaron Bell of Edmunds and Richard Lary of Clinton, will attend many of the screenings to meet audiences and answer questions following the movie.

“We are really excited to bring this film home to Maine,” said co-director Pingree. “It’s the story of three Maine farm families struggling against long odds to save their farms, and we think Maine audiences in particular will be excited to see it.”

It is not a promotional film by any stretch of the imagination, said co-director Mann. What the families — and the other members of the MOO Milk organization — did was very brave, he said.

“They let us be a part of their lives for more than two years as they endured significant financial and emotional stress. We came away with tremendous respect for the hard work it takes to produce every gallon of milk,” Mann said.

“Betting The Farm” is the story of a group of Maine dairy farmers who, dropped by their national milk company, are suddenly confronted with the real possibility of losing their farms. Banding together, the farmers launch their own milk company. Farmers Chase, Lary and Bell, along with their families, struggle to make ends meet as they get the company off the ground. But faced with slow sales and mounting bills, can they hang together long enough for the gamble to pay off … or will they be left worse off than before?

“You really have to let your characters open up on screen, and I think everyone in this film did,” said Ben Fowlie, founder of the Camden International Film Festival. “As a Mainer, I’ve always respected the independent spirit and drive that Mainers have, and Jason and Cecily captured that beautifully in this film.”

Pingree and Mann launched Pull-Start Pictures in 2009. They have produced non-fiction video content for organizational clients and news organizations from their home base on the island of North Haven. Past projects include “Meet Your Farmer,” a series of eight short films about Maine farmers produced with Maine Farmland Trust in 2010. “Betting The Farm” is their first feature documentary; FilmBuff is releasing it on broadband VOD. For more information, visit bettingthefarmfilm.com.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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