2022 MNFF Vermont Tour

Storm Lake

Dark clouds hang over the cornfields of Storm Lake, Iowa, which has seen its fair share of change in the 40 years since Big Agriculture came to town. Farmers blow their life savings on new equipment they hope will keep their livelihoods intact. Migrant workers flock here—welcome and not—for their slice of the American Dream. The people of Storm Lake confront a changing community as global forces threaten their precarious existence. Enter 63-year-old Pulitzer-prize winner Art Cullen and his family-run newspaper, The Storm Lake Times. Day-in and day-out, the Cullens deliver local news and biting editorials on a shoestring budget for their 3,000 readers. Come hell or pandemic, they’ll fight to preserve this town they call home. There’s simply too much at stake.

Official Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fJI0UqpIPI

Director Bios

Jerry Risius

Jerry Risius (director/DP) with over 25 years experience as DP on such projects as The Kingmaker (Toronto Int’l Film Festival 2019), Generation Wealth (Sundance 2018), Seeing Allred (Sundance 2018/Netflix), Brave New Voices (HBO 2009), The Devil Came on Horseback (Sundance 2007), and more recently, as a Field Producer/DP on Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and Parts Unknown series, Brooklyn-based Jerry Risius grew up on a hog farm about an hour from Storm Lake and brings a depth of filmmaking experience along with a local perspective, that very few can.


Beth Levison

Beth Levison (director/producer) is an Emmy and Peabody-winning producer/director based in NYC. Her most recent producing efforts include Women in Blue (Tribeca Film Festival 2020/Independent Lens) and Emmy-nominated Made in Boise (AFI DOCS 2019/Independent Lens). Previous producing credits include 32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide (HBO 2017), Emmy-nominated Personal Statement (PBS 2018), and her independent directorial/producing debut, Lemon (PBS 2011). Beth is the founder of Hazel Pictures, a co-founder of the Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA), producing faculty with the School of Visual Arts (SVA), and a member of AMPAS.


The Ants & The Grasshopper

Anita Chitaya has a gift; she can help bring abundant food from dead soil, she can make men fight for gender equality, and she can end child hunger in her village. Now, to save her home from extreme weather, she faces her greatest challenge: persuading Americans that climate change is real. Traveling from Malawi to California to the White House, she meets climate skeptics and despairing farmers. Her journey takes her across all the divisions shaping the US, from the rural-urban divide to schisms of race, class, and gender, to the thinking that allows Americans to believe we live on a different planet from everyone else. It will take all her skill and experience to persuade us that we’re all in this together. This documentary, ten years in the making, weaves together the most urgent themes of our times: climate change, gender, and racial inequality, the gaps between the rich and the poor, and the ideas that groups around the world have generated in order to save the planet.

Official Trailer:  https://vimeo.com/569924110

Director Bios

Raj Patel

Raj Patel (co-director/producer) is a James Beard Award-winning activist and New York Times bestselling writer. He has testified about food and hunger to the US, UK, and EU governments, and his book on the food system, Stuffed and Starved, has been translated into a dozen languages. He worked for the World Bank and WTO and was tear-gassed on four continents protesting against them. His academic career spans Oxford, the London School of Economics, Cornell University, the University of California at Berkeley where he taught with Michael Pollan. He is currently a research professor at Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin.

Zak Piper

Zak Piper (co-director/producer) is an Emmy-winning and Producers Guild Award-winning documentary filmmaker most known for producing the critically acclaimed film Life Itself, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and later won a Critics Choice Award. Zak also co-produced the acclaimed film The Interrupters, which was hailed as one of the year’s best films by The New Yorker, Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, and LA Times. Prior to these films, Zak co-produced At the Death House Door, which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and was shortlisted for the Academy Awards. Zak is currently producing or directing a number of documentary projects in development or production.

Comments are closed.