Our Daily Bread
Richard White Auditorium, Duke Campus—Unless you shop for all your food at farmers' markets or grow/ hunt it yourself, you're probably already aware that most of your calories come from large industrial farms. We've become familiar with terms like massive monoculture, feedlot finishing, terminator seeds and livestock waste lagoon. But few of us get a chance to see what this type of food production actually looks like. Our Daily Bread, by Austrian director Nikolaus Geyrhalter, gives us a clear-eyed look into a largely hidden process.
Shot at food production facilities across Europe, the film shows a surprisingly antiseptic world, with workers in hazmat suits tending to uniform rows of produce in enormous greenhouses. It's also a world of unending tedium, which Geyrhalter most effectively conveys by showing employees taking silent lunch breaks on their job sites or in featureless break rooms. The film is expressly nondogmatic, with no narration, no interviews, no score. Instead, Geyrhalter lets the most basic elements of documentary—subject matter, camera angle, editing—do all the talking. As such, the film is as much a work of art as of politics, and it doesn't try to answer the sociological questions it poses.
For its unsparing look at where our hamburgers, bacon, wings and fish filets come from, this movie should be required viewing for meat-eaters. But vegetarians aren't off the hook either—the film's larger points about the inhuman scale of commercial farming don't distinguish between animal and vegetable. In an interview on the Our Daily Bread Web site, Geyrhalter says, "There's nothing wrong with saying, 'Buy organic products! Eat less meat!' But at the same time it's a kind of excuse, because we all enjoy the fruits of automation and industrialization and globalization every day, which affect much more than just food." The free screening starts at 7 p.m. Visit fvd.aas.duke.edu/screensociety. —Marc Maximov