Climate change is never explicitly mentioned in the documentary “The Biggest Little Farm,” which some say may be one of the year’s best films, but it hangs all over the deep, rich story of the Chesters, a pair of hardscrabble idealists who move from the concrete jungle of Santa Monica to start a 200-acre, sustainable farm from scratch. Eventually including some 10,000 orchard trees and more than 200 different kinds of crops, with a wide variety of animals, Apricot Lane Farms is a microcosm of planet Earth. But even within the confines of their spread are the seeds of an epic movie that was nearly a decade in the making and boasts a cast of thousands (most of them non-human) and opening this weekend at Lincoln Theater.
Directed and narrated by John Chester, a longtime documentary cinematographer, and co-written with Mark Monroe, “The Biggest Little Farm” tells the story of John and his wife Molly (chef and blogger) who, after their barking and beloved dog Todd causes them to be evicted from their LA apartment, set off to bring their farm-to-table dreams to life by farming 200 acres in the foothills of Ventura County. The couple is naïve, the land is depleted of nutrients, and the drought is severe. But, with advice from their farm guru Alan York, the couple plants, propagates, and embraces biodiversity bringing in animals of every kind, including an unforgettable pig named Emma and her best friend, Greasy the rooster.
Premiering at the Telluride Film Festival and, “The Biggest Little Farm” screened at various festivals in the 2018 film season, ultimately being chosen as part of the Spotlight Section at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Chester shows the complexity and beauty of the farm with his wealth of photographic techniques, drones, slow-motion, macro lenses, and night-vision cameras.
“The Biggest Little Farm” hits the big screen at Damariscotta’s Lincoln Theater, 2 Theater St., Friday June 28, screening at 2 and 7 p.m., and continues at 2 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 29, Sunday June 30, Wednesday July 3 and Thursday July 4.
A testament to the immense complexity of nature, and chronicling eight years, “The Biggest Little Farm” comes complete with comedy, drama, and suspense as nature gives and takes away and gives again, forcing the Chesters to figure out solutions to urgent, everyday problems. As the land reawakens, so do their hopes of creating the utopia they dreamed of, all the while gaining a greater understanding of nature and life itself.