Monteith McCollum (U.S., 2000)
Overalls covering his heavy body, Milford Beeghly stands amidst the corn rows, his feet firmly planted in the turned soil. Milford is a farmer of the Grant Wood type: steady, stoical, plainspoken. It is said that he "loves corn more than kin." But that's drawing a line between the two. For Milford corn is kin, and as far back as the 1930s he was developing and selling his own strain, a hybrid ear with stronger roots and higher yield, often at the cost of slighting his family. Rendered with exquisite photography, Monteith McCollum's beguiling portrait looks deeply into the extended family of this Iowan patriarch, the children distanced and misunderstood, the corn ever responsive and faithful. Combining telling reminiscence from Milford's grown kids, family photos, delightful TV spots from the fifties by this farmer-turned-entrepreneur, and inventive animation of farm implements, Hybrid offers an enchanting reflection on scientific obsession versus familial engagement. As this wry work shows, it's easier to change nature than human nature. Grand Prize winner at 2001 Slamdance.
• Photographed by McCollum. Edited by Ariana Gerstein. (92 mins, B&W, 16mm, From the artist)
Preceded by short:
Bug Girl (Su Rynard, Canada, 2003). In this ecological fable, a young girl swallows a bee and experiences the biologic interconnectedness of things. (5:47 mins, Color, DVD, From the artist)
(Total running time: 98 mins)