This charming anecdote is but one facet of the fascinating lore proferred in Dirt! The Movie concerning one of our planet’s most vital resources: arable soil, one-third of which has vanished in the past 100 years. If Food, Inc. was the environmental documentary that everyone was talking about last year, Dirt! The Movie is this year’s must-see. Inspired by William Bryant Logan’s book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, it was produced and directed by Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow and is narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis.
In spite of the seriousness of the worldwide threats to our soil, the tone of the film is a lot more upbeat than Food, Inc. There’s as much emphasis on the role of dirt in worldwide spiritual and cultural traditions as on what it does to purify water and provide fertility for the production of food. We see not only how it is being degraded by human activity, but also the energetic efforts of people all over the globe – many of them schoolchildren – to stop treating dirt like dirt and restore its ecological health. It’s a movie that you shouldn’t be afraid to take your kids to see; unlike Food, Inc., there are no grisly slaughterhouse scenes that might give them nightmares. There’s even a little animated character called Digby, looking a bit like one of the Pac-Man ghosts who played in the mud, who serves to encourage kids to get a little down-and-dirty in the pursuit of homegrown food.
Under the aegis of the Rosendale Environmental Commission and the Brook Farm Project, the Rosendale Theatre is throwing an early Earth Day celebration by screening Dirt! The Movie this Tuesday evening for free. The film will be followed by a question-and-answer session with a panel of formidable local dirt experts: Jonathan DeLura, who’s the farm manager at the Brook Farm Project; Ron Khosla of the Huguenot Street Farm, who’s also an organic farm consultant to the United Nations; and Ulster Publishing’s own Dr. Lee Reich, soil scientist, author and “farmdener” extraordinaire. Eric Steinman, editor of Edible Hudson Valley, will be the moderator.
Come find out the inside dirt on what the filmmakers call “the living, breathing matrix of all life…a source of our spiritual regeneration as well as physical survival as a species.” “Getting Dirty at the Rosendale Theatre” breaks ground at 7 p.m. on April 12. The Theatre is located at 408 Main Street (Route 213) in “downtown” Rosendale, and ample parking can be found in both the parking lot behind the Theatre and along both sides of Main. For more information, call (845) 658-8967 or visit www.dirtthemovie.org.