2007 SXSW EMERGING VISIONS DOCUMENTARY FEATURE! I hope you don’t hate corn. This review, like the documentary “King Corn,” is full of the talk of corn. To be honest, I thought corn was too lame a subject for a documentary. Now having seen the film, I have a better understanding of the process of corn, making this a very creative documentary that takes a seemingly dull topic and makes it entertaining.
Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis are two friends from college who move from Boston, Massachusetts to rural Greene, Iowa in an attempt to harvest an acre of corn. Since methods for harvesting have changed over the years, the guys expect to be spending long hours harvesting corn. Instead, the seed is planted in eighteen-minutes and they spend the rest of their time playing baseball and talking to the town folk about corn. Even though corn may not sound interesting, these two guys are very great in front of the camera.
The film was directed by Aaron Woolf and one of the things that I really enjoyed were the stop-motion animation segments. Every time Ian or Curt were going to explain something like government subsidies or the migration of corn popularity, they would set-up models and then you would see that specific scene in stop-motion as one of them narrated. I felt that added a great variety and also showed their creativity. They also planted a camera in a protective shell right in front of their crop and took a picture everyday to see the development.
If there’s a problem with this film, it’s its ability to stay focused. It seems early on that their focus is to harvest an acre of corn. Yet, halfway through the film their crop is done. Then they go to other states to “follow” where their crops will go. It is then that the film takes on a whole new life, when I was done after they finished with the crop. For some reason I thought that their main objective was to see how it would be to be corn farmers but then it turned into a giant exploitation of government subsidies and that came completely out of left field. It may not be a complete problem with the documentary, but once the crop was done, I too was also done. Yet, I can’t hate the documentary entirely because of them wanting to go more in depth about corn.
This documentary made me realize that just about everything I eat that isn’t a vegetable has some sort of corn product in it. Like I said earlier, corn didn’t really appeal to me before this film. This documentary didn’t convert me into a giant corn fanatic or anything like that, but I do think that these guys did a good job at taking a topic that isn’t that interesting and turned it into something tolerable.