The Biggest Little Farm
|The Biggest Little Farm|
|Directed by||John Chester|
|Produced by||Sandra Keats|
|Written by||John Chester|
|Music by||Jeff Beal|
|Edited by||Amy Overbeck|
|Box office||$3.4 million|
The Biggest Little Farm is a 2018 American documentary film, directed by Emmy Award Winning director John Chester. The film profiles Chester and his wife Molly as they acquire and establish themselves on Apricot Lane Farms in Moorpark, California.
The film premiered at the Telluride Film Festival. It had its second screening at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was named second runner-up for the People's Choice Award: Documentaries. It was selected as the Opening Night film at Doc NYC in November 2018. The film was screened as part of the Spotlight Section at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. It also screened at the 29th New Orleans Film Festival on October 24, 2018.
The film has been acquired for theatrical distribution by the independent film company Neon, with a projected release date of May 10, 2019 in Los Angeles and New York. The film will expand into Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Minneapolis, Nashville, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington D.C on May 17th and additional markets throughout May and June. The film has been acquired by The Exchange for international distribution.
A testament to the immense complexity of nature, The Biggest Little Farm follows two dreamers and a dog on an odyssey to bring harmony to both their lives and the land. When the barking of their beloved dog Todd leads to an eviction notice from their tiny LA apartment, John and Molly Chester make a choice that takes them out of the city and onto 200 acres in the foothills of Ventura County, naively endeavoring to build one of the most diverse farms of its kind in complete coexistence with nature. The land they have chosen, however, is utterly depleted of nutrients and suffering from a brutal drought. The film chronicles eight years of daunting work and outsize idealism as they attempt to create the utopia they seek, planting 10,000 orchard trees and over 200 different crops, and bringing in animals of every kind– including an unforgettable pig named Emma and her best friend, Greasy the rooster. When the farm's ecosystem finally begins to reawaken, so does the Chesters’ hope – but as their plan to create perfect harmony takes a series of wild turns, they realize that to survive they will have to reach a far greater understanding of the intricacies and wisdom of nature, and of life itself.
Originally premiering at The Telluride Film Festival, The Biggest Little Farm debuted to wide critical acclaim. Reception focused on the winning mix of optimism and the day-to-day reality of modern agriculture in a changing climate. In his Variety review of the film, Peter DeBruge notes, that the environmental call to action conveyed through a personal narrative is "what makes “The Biggest Little Farm” feel like fresh air for the soul."
Subsequently, followed by a series of prestigious festivals including The Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, and Doc NYC, The Biggest Little Farm gained notoriety from film tastemakers as well as environmental foundations. Renowned chef, activist and author Alice Waters wrote of the film "Mother Nature has never been more inspiring.". The NRDC commended the film, with analyst Arohi Sharma writing "The Biggest Little Farm manages to achieve the impossible—it shows how a strong belief in regenerative principles can propel farmers away from degenerative practices that, too often, plague industrial agriculture and pollute people, soil, water, and air. It compels viewers to ask different questions at farmer’ markets and leaves viewers inspired about a different way of growing food and raising animals."
The Biggest Little Farm continued to receive positive reviews during opening weekend with acclaim from both The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Critic Glenn Kenny wrote "it may also revive your wonder at the weird but ultimately awe-inspiring ways in which humans can help nature do its work". The Los Angeles Times review furthered the sentiment in "‘The Biggest Little Farm’ is a winning doc about a couple's agricultural dream," in which Robert Abele writes that the film is a "lush tour of transformed land and photogenic fauna, is so appealing as a chronicle of dedicated do-gooders who actually did good (and shot every frame of it). [...] Watching the Chesters fight past disillusionment to learn the real lessons of harvesting in communion with nature is what gives the movie its rousing, illuminating power. Returning wildlife are beautiful (ducks! snails!) until some prove to be pests (thousands of snails eating the crops!), at which point patient human observation (ducks eat snails!) suggests a natural fix (ducks, meet our orchard!) and returns the farm to fertile glory." 
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 90% based on 59 reviews, with an average rating of 7.27/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Uplifting, educational, and entertaining, The Biggest Little Farm is an environmental advocacy documentary with a satisfying side dish of hope for the future."
Awards and nominations
A list of nominations and awards the film has received is as follows:
- Palm Springs International Film Festival - Audience Award for Best Documentary 
- Toronto International Film Festival - Second runner-up for The Grolsch People's Choice Documentary Award 
- Sundance Film Festival - Runner-up for the Festival Favorite Award 
- American Film Institute Fest - Audience Award for Best Feature 
- Boulder Film Festival - Grand Jury Prize for Feature Length Film 
- Boulder Film Festival - Best Documentary 
- Mill Valley Film Festival - Silver Audience Award for Valley of the Docs Presentation 
- Hamptons International Film Festival - Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature 
- Middleburg Film Festival - Audience Award for Best Documentary 
- Annapolis Film Festival - Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary 
- Gasparilla Film Festival - Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature Documentary
- Sedona Film Festival - Best of the Fest 
- Sedona Film Festival - Director's Choice Award for Best Documentary 
- "Telluride Film Review: ‘The Biggest Little Farm’". Variety, September 1, 2018.
- "The Biggest Little Farm (2019)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
- "The Biggest Little Farm (2019)". The Numbers. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
- "'The Biggest Little Farm': Film Review | Telluride 2018". The Hollywood Reporter, September 9, 2018.
- Hipes, Patrick; Hipes, Patrick (28 April 2018). "Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards: 'Bold And The Beautiful', 'Sesame Street' Top Winners".
- "Toronto: Neon Lands Documentary ‘The Biggest Little Farm’". Variety, September 11, 2018.
- "Toronto: Neon Takes 'The Biggest Little Farm' Doc for North America". The Hollywood Reporter, September 11, 2018.
- "'Green Book' boosts awards season prospects with TIFF audience award win". Screen Daily, September 16, 2018.
- "The Biggest Little Farm announced as the 2018 Opening Night Film!".
- "The Biggest Little Farm | New Orleans Film Society". neworleansfilmsociety.org. Retrieved 2018-09-30.
- Kay, Jeremy (2019-01-17). "'The Biggest Little Farm' lands at The Exchange for international, separately scores key deals (exclusive)". Screen.
- Debruge, Peter. "Telluride Film Review: 'The Biggest Little Farm'". Variety.
- "The Biggest Little Farm". Jacob Burns Film Center.
- SHARMA, AROHI. ""The Biggest Little Farm": A Bumpy and Beautiful Road to Farming for a Healthier Planet". NRDC.
- Kenny, Glenn. "'The Biggest Little Farm' Review: The Pleasures of D.I.Y. Agriculture".
- Abele, Robert. "Review: 'The Biggest Little Farm' is a winning doc about a couple's agricultural dream".
- "The Biggest Little Farm (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
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- "Announcing the TIFF '18 Award Winners". TIFF.
- Tuesday; February 5th; 2019. "2019 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE WINS FESTIVAL FAVORITE AWARD". www.sundance.org.
- "Announcing AFI FEST 2018 Audience and Jury Award Winners".
- "2019 Awards – BIFF – Boulder International Film Festival".
- "MVFF41 AUDIENCE FAVOURITES – Mill Valley Film Festival". www.mvff.com.
- "HIFF 2018 Awards Announced". hamptonsfilmfest.org.
- "GREEN BOOK and BIGGEST LITTLE FARM Win Audience Awards at Middleburg Film Festival". VIMOOZ. 22 October 2018.
- "Annapolis Film Festival - Home". Annapolis Film Festival.
- "2019 Festival Award Winners". Sedona International Film Festival.