“Land cannot disappear”, the protagonist’s great-grandmother stated while gradually investing her hard-earned money in plots of land, together with her husband. 1ha43a: this is the size of the tract that Monika inherits after some generations. This is when the questions arise: how can a woman of modern times gain back a real and strong connection with the land? How has the value of this plot changed over hundreds of years and which is the best way to get the most from it in a sustainable and informed way?
The answers to these questions converge into 1ha43a– Six attempts to get closer to the land. The documentary, directed by Monika Pirch, received the special award “IYS 2015” as Best Film about the Topic of Soil at Innsbruck Nature Film Festival 2015, member of the Green Film Network.
photo Innsbruck Nature Film Festival
Following her urgency to understand and start a relationship with the land, she tries to establish a physical connection with the field: she looks at it, she touches it, she lies down in it. In the meantime, she is watching her tenants, talking to her neighbors, experts in the administration and she is looking for her very future with her parcel.
“I did not know anything about the actual value and about farming. And so everyone else does – or at least a large part of the population in Germany. That is why I thought this story need to be told” the director says during an interesting chat about the film. She chooses a 360°approach, where all the resources of this small piece of land are challenged: real estate, soil characteristics, wind power and production of potatoes.
“The movie tells this story about getting-in-touch. And I hope the audience learns to know my field and like it, although there is nothing specific about it. And as there is nothing specific it could be any farmers land.”
In the course of a year and through ongoing variations of failure, developing among past, present and future challenges, Monika gets to realize a big truth: in current farming system, the 2% of the population has the commitment and responsibility of feeding the other 98%. “During my research I was fascinated by the historic film-material I found and the traditional methods of cultivating the land I learned about. Obviously there is no way back in the past and it would not lead to a more sustainable practice with soil today – but looking back can clarify why the connection to what feeds us everyday has been lost. Only very few people actually work with the soil and do cultivate food, so many people have lost touch and in consequence lost the sense of responsibility”.
Therefore the theme of soil is connected to important topics like sustainability (fertile farmland is a non-renewable resource: once it has been sealed up, mistreated or over-fertilized, it disappears forever) and food sovereignty, endangered by unequal and inhuman practices such as land grabbing.
“Hopefully after the film you start looking differently, with more knowledge and more compassion, with more options to connect to the value of a piece of farmland” the director continues. “The film is an essay film. It tries to look at the subject from different perspectives, that all inform the subject in order to develop a wider, more interesting and involving picture of it”.
The result is a poetic, fresh, personal and sometimes humorist view on what 1ha43a of land can offer to opened eyes and hard-working arms.