Award-winning filmmaker brings documentary to Watsonville

A still from "Evolution of Organic," a new documentary by Mark Kitchell, which will be screened as part of the Watsonville Film Festival’s Healthy Community Film Series on Oct. 11.

WATSONVILLE — “Evolution of Organic,” the newest film from Oscar-nominated and Sundance Film Festival-winning filmmaker Mark Kitchell, will be screened at the Watsonville Film Festival as part of the Healthy Community Film Series on Oct. 11.

The 2017 documentary film tells the story of the organic agriculture movement in California, from its origins to its recent resurgence.

Director, producer and writer Kitchell (“Berkeley in the Sixties,” “A Fierce Green Fire”) said that after working on projects about the broader environmental movement, he wanted “Evolution of Organic” to focus primarily on California.

“Even just within the state, it’s a big, complicated story,” Kitchell said. “It’s got a lot of juice to it. So much began right here.”

The film, Kitchell explained, is presented in four separate acts, focusing on the organic movement’s origins, its building, mainstreaming and expansion. Kitchell worked with farmers and activists, many from Santa Cruz County, to bring the story to moviegoers straight from the source.

“These are the people who built and who continue to build the legacy of organic agriculture,” Kitchell said.

Narrated by Frances McDormand, with cinematography by Vincent Franco, a score by Gary Malkin and Dan Alvarez and edited by Robert Dalva, “Evolution of Organic” includes archival footage from nearly 100 sources. Meanwhile, songs from artists such as the Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen weave throughout.

The film features several local people, farms and organizations, including Javier Zamora from JSM Organics, Stephen Pedersen from High Ground Organics, and The Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA). Even more, such as Dick Peixoto of Lakeside Organic Gardens, assisted Kitchell in the film’s creation.

“It’s been absolutely wonderful working with everyone here in Santa Cruz County,” Kitchell said, “and making this film has given me even more of an appreciation for how important Watsonville is to farming.”

On Oct. 11, “Evolution of Organic” will be screened at the Appleton Event Lounge, 410 Rodriguez St. in Watsonville, at 7 p.m. Kitchell will be in attendance and engage in a conversation with attendees following the screening. The event is free, but donations are welcome.

“More than anything, with this film, I’m out to educate,” Kitchell said, “and hopefully inspire people to embrace an organic standard.”

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