Saturday, August 02, 2014

Somebody Next Door: A Documentary about Hunger in New Mexico

Santa Fe-based filmmaker Duncan Sill presented the documentary Sombody Next Door at the End Hunger in New Mexico summit on July 17. The 18-minute video was produced with assistance from students from Santa Fe Community College and professionals from New Mexico Film Resources. Here is the film in its entirety, followed by some background information (in a question-and-answer format)

Where did the idea of the documentary originate?
Duncan SillL The storyline stems from observations and encounters with folks involved and/or affected by the food insecurity conditions in New Mexico. Hunger seems to be a side effect of underlining structure issues for individuals and organizations. The original idea is to enable a dialogue and snapshot of the point of view of the average person who may be directly or indirectly involved with food system, hunger issues. Hence, the title Somebody Next Door as most of us know of someone in these situation and these folks are not necessarily 'who we usually think". Instead, most folks are working and simply trying to make a living and this reflects the changing condition of Americana. As the conversation and observation unfold, tags are formulated and introduced for next stages of engagement within communities.

One of the emerging themes is that we have to work actively to address the structure elements of the food system and how it affects our economic and community viability—in some way it asks the question: How do we become self-sufficient again? It is hoped that the story lines continue in various relevant direction that may lend to folks to participate in solutions on a local and broader connected level.

How did you select the people to interview?
Duncan Sill: We started with persons who are engaged with the most vulnerable populations—seniors and children. Our state is the worst for child hunger and second-worst nationally in terms of  food insecurity and hunger. These populations became the bookends of our documenatry. What occurred in between is a snapshot of the "one pay check away folks"--most of us can relate to them.

I also selected urban and rural farmers to speak with for understanding more about the changes in the landscape of food system development. We e\ngaged Whole Foods Market to explore how one may access healthy food with limited budget. I was able to purchase healthy food (some organic) with the equivalent of $1.40/meal (equivalent of SNAP). They were many other folks I wanted to reach out to but limitations on timing and other resources constraints did not allow that. I hope to be able to continue with the project and get more stories told and engage folks with ongoing participation.

How long did it take you to produce the film? 
Duncan Sill:  I had limited time and only three months to get footage and complete post production in time for the End Hunger in New Mexico Summit. Nevertheless, we were able to formulate a fairly broad topic into somewhat of a coherent story in a short and invite some dialogue for the viewers and participant (at least I hope we did!)

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