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November 22, 2017

Take a look at Wendell Berry in our next film screening

The Center for Rural Development will hold a film screening of Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry on Sunday, November 19, at 2 p.m.

Look & See is a cinematic portrait of the changing landscapes and shifting values of rural America seen through the mind’s eye of writer, farmer, and activist Wendell Berry. The documentary was filmed in Henry County, where Berry, one of America’s most significant living writers, has lived and farmed since the mid-1960’s. A prolific author, Berry’s novels, short stories, poems, and essays chronicle decades of industrial and economic changes to the community’s agrarian way of life.

Dunn weaves Berry’s poetic and prescient words with gorgeous cinematography and the testimonies of his family and neighbors, all of whom are being deeply affected by the industrial and economic changes in agriculture—their way of life.

Often called “a prophet for rural America,” Berry has long been a voice for the communities that are so often overlooked by the media. Look & See subverts biopic conventions and immerses audiences into Berry’s world, providing a space for talking about the land and those who sustain it. It’s a conversation that is more urgent now than ever, as we find ourselves in a deeply divided nation where so many Americans are disconnected from the farmers who feed them.

Filmmakers Dunn and Jef Sewell skillfully weave Berry’s poetic words with cinematography and the testimonies of his family and neighbors in the first documentary about Berry’s life and career.

Executive Producers Robert Redford and Terrence Malick, and Co-Producer Nick Offerman worked with Co-Producer Gill Holland and the director after the film premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in 2016.

The New York Times reviewed the film as “a pleasure to spend 80 minutes in Mr. Berry’s company.”


In 1965, Berry walked away from the foreordained path for American writers. After living in California, Europe, and New York, Berry decided he would return home to Port Royal, KY. He and his wife Tanya bought a small farmhouse and began a life of farming, writing and teaching. This lifelong relationship with both land and community would come to form the core of his prolific writings.

A half century later Henry County, like many rural communities across America, has become a place of quiet ideological struggle. In the span of a generation, the agrarian virtues of simplicity, land stewardship, sustainable farming, local economics and rootedness to place have been replaced by a capital-intensive model of industrial agriculture characterized by machine labor, chemical fertilizers, soil erosion and debt—all of which have frayed the fabric of rural communities.

Writing from a long wooden desk beneath a forty-paned window, Berry has watched this struggle unfold, becoming one of the most passionate and eloquent voices in defense of agrarian life.

As a creative, Berry is one of the most decorated and recognized authors of our time, having won countless awards, including the National Humanities Medal, the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, the Roosevelt’s Institute’s Freedom Medal, and the Cleanth Brooks Medal for Lifetime Achievement. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2015 became the first living writer named to the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.

Look & See is a part of The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, a program of South Arts. Southern Circuit screenings are funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. South Arts, founded in 1975, is a nonprofit regional arts organization building on the South’s unique heritage and enhancing the public value of the arts. Their work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective, through an annual portfolio of activities designed to address the role of the arts in impacting the issues important to our region, and linking the South with the nation and the world through the arts.

An informational question and answer session with the filmmakers will be held after the screening. Tickets are $10. For more information, contact The Center at 606-677-6000 or visit

The Center for Rural Development’s Film series continues with three more film premieres through April 2018.

February 18, 2018First Lady of the Revolution First Lady of the Revolution tells the remarkable story of Henrietta Boggs, a young Alabaman who fell in love with a foreign land and the man destined to transform its identity. Her marriage to José ‘Don Pepe’ Figueres in 1941 led to a journey of activism, exile, political upheaval and, ultimately, lasting progressive reforms. This unforgettable documentary depicts the momentous struggle to shape Costa Rica’s democratic identity, and portrays a courageous woman escaping the confines of a traditional, sheltered existence to expand her horizons into a new world.

March 18, 2018Swim Team – The parents of a boy on the autism spectrum form a competitive swim team, recruiting other teens on the spectrum and training them with high expectations and zero pity. Swim Team chronicles the extraordinary rise of three diverse youth athletes, capturing a moving quest for inclusion, independence, and a life that feels winning.

April 8, 2018Bending the Arc – Thirty years ago, as much of the world was ravaged by horrific outbreak of AIDS and tuberculosis, three remarkable activists came together while attending college at Harvard to provide medical relief to a Haitian squatter settlement. Determined to provide the same world-class level of medical care they would expect for their own families to the Haitians that soon became their friends, they faced obstacles considered insurmountable by the rest of the world. Because of their dedication, world policies changed, entrenched ideas transformed, and millions of lives were pulled from the brink of death.

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