Shortly after the devastating earthquake of January 2010, the Monsanto Co. donated 475 tons of genetically modified corn and vegetable seeds to Haiti. The poor Haitian farmers chose to burn rather than use the engineered seeds.
That act of defiance led independent filmmaker Jeremy Seifert to set off on a journey of discovery regarding genetically modified organisms.
“It really captured my imagination,” Seifert said in a HuffPost Live interview in September. “I knew very little about GMOs, probably as much as most Americans, which is, ‘What the hell is that?’ ”
That inspired his “inquiry into, ‘How is it that we are eating these every single day and most people don’t know what [GMOs] are?’ ” Seifert said. “They’re out there but most people don’t know it. As I learned more, I grew concerned as a father …”
Mary B. Martin School of the Arts will present Seifert’s award-winning documentary film “GMO OMG” at 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 11 in East Tennessee State University’s Martha Street Culp Auditorium with filmmaker Seifert as part of the South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. After the free screening of the film, Seifert and the audience will engage in a discussion about the film and his work as a filmmaker. A reception, catered by Johnson City’s Earth Fare, will follow. The film and reception are free and open to the public.
The film has been well received by reviewers and film festival audiences, winning Audience Choice at the Yale Environmental Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Berkshire International Film Festival. “GMO OMG is a must see for anyone who believes we are what we eat,” said a reviewer for About.com
“GMO OMG is an excellent film that accurately describes the complexities of the GMO controversy while making it a very personal, touching and humorous journey to find non-GMO foods,” said Ken Roseboro of The Organic & Non-GMO Report.
Seifert has explored and South Arts’ Southern Circuit continues to address cogent issues for today’s consumer who wants to stay informed.
“Jeremy Seifert really has some concerns about GMOs as many of us do…” said Mary B. Martin School of the Arts Director Anita DeAngelis. “Coming on the heels of the film we had last year, ‘Eating Alabama,’ a film about community and eating locally and seasonally, I’m glad we are continuing to address concerns about food. The topic is thought-provoking, and we’ll have a lot of interesting conversation after the film.
“It’s interesting to be in this climate today with these particular food products. We need to understand what’s happening and the repercussions.”
“GMO OMG” director and concerned father Seifert is in search of answers. How do GMOs affect our children, the health of our planet and our freedom of choice? And perhaps the ultimate question, which Seifert tests himself: Is it even possible to reject the food system currently in place, or have we lost something we can’t gain back? These and other questions take Seifert on a journey from his family’s table to Haiti, Paris, Norway and the lobby of agra-giant Monsanto, from which he is unceremoniously ejected. Along the way, Seifert hopes that audiences will gain insight into the question that is of growing concern to citizens the world over: What’s on your plate?
“By the simple act of feeding ourselves, we unwittingly participate in the largest experiment ever conducted on human beings,” Seifert says. “Massive agrochemical companies like Monsanto (Agent Orange) and Dow (Napalm) are feeding us genetically-modified food, GMOs that have never been fully tested and aren’t labeled. This small handful of corporations is tightening their grip on the world’s food supply — buying, modifying and patenting seeds to ensure total control over everything we eat. We still have time to heal the planet, feed the world and live sustainably. But we have to start now.”
Seifert’s first film, “DIVE!, Living Off America’s Waste,” debuted in 2010. Initially made with a $200 budget, a borrowed camera and a lot of heart, “DIVE!” went on to win 22 film festivals worldwide. In 2010, Seifert began the production company, Compeller Pictures. He is now a filmmaker and activist, traveling the country and speaking on humanitarian and environmental issues.
“This film is not about panic,” says The Hollywood Report Card. “It’s not out to scare us all into veganism. It’s about a father trying to find out if what he’s feeding his kids is safe.”
For more information on the film, visit www.gmofilm.com.
The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is 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, a nonprofit regional arts organization, was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to address the role of the arts in impacting the issues important to our region and to link the South with the nation and the world through the arts. For more information, visit www.southarts.org
For information about the ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, call 423-439-TKTS (8587) or visit www.etsu.edu/martin. “Like” ETSU Mary B. Martin School of the Arts on Facebook and follow it on Twitter at TheArtsAtETSU.