The Real Dirt on Farmer John

Rated NR 2006

A warm, hilarious, and meaningful documentary about one man's lifelong struggle to maintain his family farm -- and his love for personal and artistic expression. John Peterson grew up in rural Illinois, on a farm that his grandfather and father had tended before him. In the late 1960s, when his father died, John was still a teenager, but he took over and kept the farm running, even as he transformed it into an "Art and Agriculture" hippie commune. Then, when the hard times of the 1980s hit, John had to sell, and it was a blow. The rest of his life has essentially been an attempt to come to terms with that sale, to express his grief through art, and to resurrect the farm. Using Super-8 footage shot by John's mother in the '50s and later footage shot by friend Taggart Siegel (who directed this film), The Real Dirt is ripe with endearing surprises, including a short film made by Peterson and his girlfriend, wherein they play a couple of bumblebees.

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