Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry
Director Laura Dunn and cinematographer Lee Daniels illustrate the outlook of the reclusive author and activist in this creative documentary.
“If you really want to understand rural America — middle American, the heartland of America, what people are dealing with there — it’s Wendell Berry, not Donald Trump, who can tell you what’s going on,” said director Laura Dunn to loud applause at the Sundance premiere of Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry.
The theater was packed with fans of this prolific author, Kentucky farmer, sustainable-agriculture advocate, and “prophet of responsibility,” as Bill Moyers dubbed him in one of the rare interviews Berry granted until now. Despite “hundreds upon hundreds of requests,” according to Dunn, Berry has refused to be the subject of any documentary. “He doesn’t like screens,” the director explains, who got him to read a poem for the audio track of her 2007 film on water rights in Austin, The Unforeseen. “He thinks screens contribute to the decline of literacy, deaden the imagination, and become dominant far too quickly.” The octogenarian has no TV, no computer, and has written his 40 books, including the seminal The Unsettling of America, on a typewriter.
Berry agreed to the making of Dunn’s documentary on one condition: He wouldn’t appear on film. He’d do audio interviews, read his writing, open up his archives — but he didn’t want attention on him. As he told Dunn, “I am my place. I am the people around me.” [...]
Published on July 7, 2017 on American Cinematographer's website.