The Center for Documentary Studies and the Southern Documentary Fund are pleased to present a free screening of Shaena Mallett’s Farmsteaders. The film follows Nick Nolan, an Appalachian prodigal son working against the odds to resurrect the family farm, his wife Celeste, and their young family as they fight to keep this homeland from “drying up and blowing away,” something that has happened to about 4.7 million farms in the U.S. over the past 50 years. The film is presented as part of the Fresh Docs series featuring documentary works-in-progress; following the screenings, a moderated conversation with the filmmaker(s) will be held, during which the audience provides valuable feedback.
Note: Fresh Docs screenings are free, but attendees must RESERVE A TICKET via Eventbrite.
Farmsteaders points an honest and tender lens at the beauty and hardship of everyday life, while Nick’s poetic reflections weave the golden thread of his inner world through scenes that intimately explore what it’s like to be one of those left standing. The workload takes a heavy toll: “When you’re a farmer, there’s no such thing as a sick day.” And Nick’s estranged oldest son, Hunter, wants to return home. Hunter’s help would be a godsend, but only if he can curb his appetite for alcohol and regain the trust he lost when he put the entire dairy herd—thus Nick and Celeste’s livelihood—in jeopardy. Now Hunter has a baby on the way, and he promises he’s ready to change. How will Nick balance his fears and his hopes when so much is at stake?
We know for certain: family is everything, nothing ever stays the same, and the land holds it all together.
Shaena Mallett is a documentary filmmaker, editor, photographer, and teacher. She grew up on a small family farm and has continued to moonlight in sustainable agriculture. Her stories are often found on backroads, entangled in the idea of roots and relationships with land. She spent three years teaching a therapeutic photography class in Southeastern Ohio to adults with severe mental illness who are in the recovery process, and she currently teaches an introductory video storytelling class in the Journalism department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She’s worked as a freelance video editor with organizations ranging from Open Society Foundation to the Maine Farmland Trust, making her own short films along the way. Farmsteaders is her first feature length film.