Visions of Agriculture at Berlinale 2014

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At the 64th Berlinale there are fertile clumps of earth amongst the glitter. Agriculture in the age of the anthropocene is artfully depicted in a handful of films from around the world, creating a unique eco-cinema niche that spans the gamut from migrant tomato pickers in California  to farmer terrorists in Taipei.

In Nước 2030, which means water in Vietnamese, director Nguyen-Vo Nghiem-Minh tells a story of a land submerged by rising sea levels. The scenery is not the apocalyptic floods of catastrophe films or news reports, but a realistic picture of fields of water dotted with “land for sale” signs floating on buoys and makeshift shacks on stilts. It is the scenery of every day life in a post-inundated world. Food security is an every day reality. The heroine, Sao, played by Quýnh Hoa, investigates the death of her husband on board the sterile decks of a floating farm run by a multi-national genetic engineering company. As Sao dreams of running through rice fields and receding waters, her former lover, a scientist managing one of the floating farms, fears the consequences of a high tech food product he helped engineer. The film combines elements of sci-fi, thriller, and romance genres to bring together a stunning vision of life in the midst of the severest form of climate change, or as the IMDB summarizes, “a near future Vietnam where global warming and rising seawater levels have forced cultivation to be done on floating farms, a strong-willed woman has to make a critical decision about her ex-lover, a suspect of her husband’s murder.”

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