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Film Festival 09 - The Neglected Miracle

The Neglected Miracle

New Zealand 1985, 106m
Director: Barry Barclay

When The Neglected Miracle premiered at the Wellington Film Festival in 1985 few of us knew about the dangers of corporate 'ownership' of genetic crop resources. John O'Shea and Barry Barclay had already been working on the subject for seven years, shooting in Peru, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Netherlands, Italy, France, Australia and New Zealand. Their film is cannily structured around interviews with peasant farmers who've preserved and nurtured their corn and potatoes for generations - and whose closeness to the land is lyrically photographed and evoked in traditional song. The first-world scientists and businessmen who appear in the film - most of them landless Dutch - are much more forthright than their 21st-century successors as they uphold their rights to treat these resources as intellectual property. This ground-breaking film remains deeply impressive for its cogent argument - which, by today's standards, is almost subliminal in its lack of sound bite stridency - and its poetic, fearful vision of undefended paradise.