Wednesday, 29 August 2018
The Gleaners and I - film review
I have no idea why I didn't see this film when it was released in 2000, but I was very happy to catch up with it in the Agnes Varda series at Edinburgh's Filmhouse.
The Gleaners and I is a film about gleaning (defined by Wikipedia as 'the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers' fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest' but the film takes a broader interpretation than that).
Varda takes us on a wonderfully quirky tour of gleaning in its many manifestations, starting with a brief history of agricultural gleaning, highlighting paintings that have featured gleaners and meeting some modern day gleaners. Modern day gleaners range from travellers who turn up to pick through rejected potatoes, to a top chef whose grandparents taught him to glean and uses it still as a way of sourcing local ingredients for his restaurant to urban gleaners who pick up leftovers from markets as an ethical stance.
Expanding beyond the original agricultural roots of gleaning, Varda visits artists who make sculptures and artworks out of recycled materials and people who pick up dumped fridges and furniture to repair it and give it away or sell it.
She also considers the idea that she is, herself, as a film maker, a gleaner, picking up scraps of observations and ideas from wherever she can to weave them into a film.
This is an inspiring film full of ideas on how to make the most of the materials around us and how to reduce waste while shining a light onto the scandal of food waste and our throwaway society and at the same time highlighting how difficult life is for some people who are forced to glean to find enough food to survive.
The Gleaners and I is showing again tomorrow as part of the Agnes Varda season at Edinburgh Filmhouse. Go and see it!