Silent Land - No Fight No Victory
Following the footsteps of No Fight No Victory and Silent Snow, Silent Land will be a feature lenght film by Jan van den Berg about the fight against hunger in the world, the disastrous effects of land grabbing and the important role of small scale farmers.
Together with the World Future Council in Hamburg, we made No Fight No Victory in 2009: a ten-minute short film about a successful project in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, to eradicate hunger and improve food-security. Patrus Ananias, the inspiring mayor of the city, received the ‘Future Policy Award’ and has been in charge of the fight against hunger in his country and inspired many people around the world.
“We need to transform the way we approach food security, in particular by unleashing the potential of millions of small farmers and food producers”.
- UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon
More than a billion people around the world suffer from hunger. Each year, their number grows, despite many attempts to improve the situation. According to Olivier de Schutter, the United Nations Special rapporteur on the right to Food, the problem is not so much the lack of sufficient food, but rather the lack of access to food that causes people to suffer from hunger. In the world’s endless growing metropoles it gets harder and harder to provide people with healthy food, while in the country side, small farmers are forced off their lands. In a 2012 report, Oxfam says the global land rush of multinationals is out of control and urges the World Bank to freeze its investments in large-scale land acquisitions to send a strong signal to global investors to stop these “land grabs”.
The feature length documentary Silent Land will give us an insight in the unsettling reality of modern agriculture and shows us the impacts on the daily lives of small farmers. Together with Brazilian journalist and capoeirista Sara Abreu Mata Machado, we travel around to Asia, Africa and Latin America to analyze problems and find solutions.
In Brazil’s third city, Belo Horizonte, a law has guaranteed the right to food. The city’s major started a project that provided children with a free daily meal at school, started popular restaurants where you can get a healthy meal for only 50 dollar cents, and increased support for small local farmers, working in a sustainable way. The farmers received small pieces of land from the government and the right to sell their products in the more deprived areas of the city. In return, they are obliged to offer twenty basic products for a fixed low price. Fome Zero –No Hunger- is a huge success, while its cost takes up only two percent of the city’s budget. Nevertheless, it turned out to be not that easy to simply copy the approach of the project in other countries. Different countries require different strategies.
Silent Land continues the successful combination of action and film, following the footsteps of the ‘Silent Snow’ project, which Jan van den Berg created in 2007. Sara’s meetings and interviews will show how ecological farmers know how to survive and a carefully planned series of personal stories tells us how they can play a role in the fight against hunger.
“I really enjoyed Silent Snow’s approach to presenting the topic- taking one person’s learning experience- an effective method of imparting the unsettling information that can be so difficult to handle” Dasha Kotova, planet in Focus, toronto, Canada
During research in 2011 we already filmed some scenes, which will also be used for short films for the website. Local activists and Ngo’s will all join forces to create a multi-lingual website that will continue to spread information on the subject, before and after the screenings. After a successful pitch at Lisbon Docs, we got support from several Dutch and Belgian broadcasters. Additionally we were selected for a grant from the Dutch Ministry of Environment to write the script and make a 3.5 min. pilot.
The premiere of the feature length film is scheduled for IDFA, in fall 2014. Worldwide distribution to cinema’s, festivals, schools and the web, through many of the same channels as Silent Snow, will start from 2014, during the UN International Year of Family Farming.
Writers, artists and filmmakers work together in this Dutch production company, founded by Jan van den Berg, who in the early seventies started making films from his original field of study; cultural anthropology. During his fieldwork at Leiden University he made his first film: Olvereños (1975), about the inhabitants of a village in Andalusia, who had to leave their village because of continuous drought. Since that time drsFILM produced many documentaries and drama productions. The films are mostly about people at the cutting edge between cultures, human rights and the environment, and have been shown on many international film festivals and broadcasted in the Netherlands and abroad.
Jan van den Berg won several awards in Europe for his film ‘Bye Jan’ (1993) and a Golden Calf at the Dutch Film Festival for his documentary ‘Deacon of Death; Looking for justice in today’s Cambodia’ (2004). His Silent Snow project on the dangers of Persistent Organic Pollutants in our environment, consisting of a short film (2007), a feature length documentary (2011), educational material for schools and a informative website won 21 important international awards so far.
“With breathtaking images of nature, Golden Calf winner Jan van den Berg emphasizes both the beauty and vulnerability of our world.”
- Jury Movies that Matter Festival, the Hague, the Netherlands