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Makers of ‘Kiss the Ground’ hope to inspire in fight against global warming

A farmer holds a handful of dirt in the documentary "Kiss the Ground."
“Kiss the Ground” will be be screened virtually at the Coronado Island Film Festival, accompanied by a Q&A with the filmmakers.
(Big Picture Ranch)

Documentary about regenerative agriculture will be shown at the mostly virtual Coronado Island Film Festival

The documentary “Kiss the Ground” is an upbeat whirlwind tour of people and organizations advocating for regenerative agriculture. If you don’t know the definition of the phrase, the film will show you soon enough. If you do know, you’re likely to learn a lot more.

Helping viewers along the way are such celebrities as narrator Woody Harrelson, San Diego’s Jason Mraz, model Gisele Bündchen (with a cameo by her husband, Tom Brady) and actors Rosario Dawson, Ian Somerhalder, and Patricia and David Arquette.

You’ll also meet scientists, government officials, farmers, ranchers and composters from all over the globe. Many are living proof of how farming techniques can capture carbon in our soil and plants, rather than our clogged air. Doing so, they maintain, has the potential to balance our climate, replenish water supplies and feed the world.

“Kiss the Ground” will be screened during the Coronado Island Film Festival, which runs Wednesday through Nov. 15.

The movie took seven years for veteran documentarians Rebecca and Josh Tickell to complete. A film short, a full-length book and a nonprofit – all with the same name – preceded it.

“We asked ourselves: `How are we going to make a compelling and entertaining film about soil?’ ” Rebecca Tickell recalled. “It was extremely daunting. But we realized it was the single most important thing we could do for climate change.”

How did the directors, whose children Athena and Jedi were born during those seven years, attract such a diverse range of experts and advocates?

“Basically, these were people committed to the message and story we wanted to tell,” Josh Tickell said. “We had parts of the film reviewed by over 100 scientists. The artists donated their time. They all are super committed.”

“Kiss the Ground” has just been released on Netflix, but festivalgoers will see an accompanying Q&A with the filmmakers.

The Tickells hope “Kiss the Ground” will have a unifying effect. Rebecca Tickell noted that, when the project started, few climate scientists and farmers were talking to each other.

“The people in the film are doing important work,” she said. “We can move away from demarcated roles and think in full circles.”

Mraz is one of two San Diegans involved with “Kiss the Ground,” which was executive produced by La Jolla’s Michelle Ciccarelli Lerach. She is the founder of the Berry Good Food Foundation, which works toward a healthy, integrated food system.

Singer-songwriter Mraz has known the Tickells for nearly a decade. He contributed two songs to “Kiss the Ground” and showed viewers his Oceanside farm, where he practices regenerative agriculture.

“The principles of regeneration are a no-brainer,” Rebecca Tickell said. “It’s a simple solution to reversing climate change.”

Focus on indie films

Because of coronavirus pandemic restrictions, the 2020 Coronado Island Film Festival is mostly a virtual event.

“One good thing is that we’re all about independent filmmakers,” said Merridee Book, the festival’s executive director since May 2019. “We love studio films, but everything was getting pushed back.

“We have an esteemed awards jury. Cash prizes are more important than ever, with filmmakers losing so much money and opportunity this season. We want to shine a light on indie filmmakers and what they’ve gone through.”

One notable studio film at the festival is “Nomadland,” directed by Chloe Zhao and starring two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand. The movie, to be screened Thursday at South Bay Drive-In Theatre, is already an awards season favorite.

Virtually, the festival will present almost 20 full-length features and documentaries, as well as panels and Q&As.

Nick Curtin, the festival’s director of development, will host an hourlong Zoom chat called Café Curtin, on Nov. 13, 14 and 15.

“Nick will have a list of films to discuss, but it’ll be an open format,” Book said. “We may get 10 people; we may get 100. Maybe a filmmaker or two will join in. The goal is to foster the dialogue that happens naturally as you’re walking out of the films at the live festival.”

Wood is a freelance writer.

Coronado Island Film Festival

When: 12:15 a.m. Wednesday to 11:55 p.m. Nov. 15

Where: Online at coronadofilmfest.com, except for “Nomadland” drive-in screening Thursday at South Bay Drive-In Theatre, 2170 Coronado Ave., San Diego

Admission: Virtual events: $15 single tickets; $40 shorts-fest pass; $125 virtual access pass. The drive-in movie is $100 per vehicle.

Phone: (619) 821-9924

Tickets and information: coronadofilmfest.com


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