The Land

La terra

"The screenplay had been drafted in Washington, but as alwaus the Flaherty's discarded it and began to film around their town. Perhaps for the firts time... First they went South fot the cotton harvest, then West to the irrigated and mechanised farms of Arizona. They went North, to the dust storm torn states like lowa and Minnesota. They covered the history of American farming like no journalist had ever done before and they returned to Washington in extreme uncertainty)
(Jean Grémillon)This film was commissioned by the U.S. Film Service, a division of the Department of Agricolture. In a bizarre move, The Land ended up being censored by the very same governmental agency that had funded it. It is on deposit at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, and has been seen by very few people. A work of beauty and profoundly realistic imagery, it stands out for the heart-rending participation of a man forced to deal with the contradictions and lacerations of his land. Without any precise aim, Flaherty began traveling the States to film anything that sparked his interest. What he ended up was a cinematographic lyrical poem on the land and people that are America. Voice-over commentary was added to the footage, with a lean narrative spewing promotional messages for U.S. agriculture policies. Thus The Land became a contradictory work - the government propaganda clashed with the film's poetry.   Indeed, Flaherty tried to add commentary of his own - almost imperceptible - on the disastrous effects of capitalism, such as laws that called for the destruction of crops in order to keep prices high, based on a thorough contempt for society's weakest members. It was obvious that the profound spirit of Flaherty was at odds with the bureaucrats that commissioned him to do the film and the optimism of government propaganda. CinemAmbiente is proud to be able to offer audiences The Land - which, if not widely known, is surely one of his most important works - for the depth with which Flaherty portrays the relationship between people and the land. 


Robert J. Flaherty



Film submission

23° Festival


01 October - 04 October 2020

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