Norris Thomlinson of Deep Green Resistance Hawai’i wrote a review recently of the documentary Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds. He analyzes it from a liberal vs radical perspective, ultimately coming away disappointed that the film didn’t offer anything more than a typical liberal approach to systemic problems of power.
The film shows beautiful time lapse sequences of seeds sprouting and shooting into new life. Even rarer, it shows people feeling very emotional about seeds, displaying extra-human connections we normally only see with domesticated pets, and hinting at the human responsibility of respectful relationship with all beings described by so many indigenous people. The movie highlights great projects from seed schools and the Seed Broadcast truck educating people on why and how to save seed, to William Woys Weaver and others within Seed Savers Exchange doing the on-the-ground work of saving varieties from extinction, to Hudson Valley Seed Library trying to create a viable business as a local organic seed company.
The Deep Green Resistance Youtube Channel has an excellent comparison of Liberal vs Radical ways of analyzing and addressing problems. In short, liberalism focuses on individual mindsets and changing individual attitudes, and thus prioritizes education for achieving social change. Radicalism recognizes that some classes wield more power than others and directly benefit from the oppressions and problems of civilization. Radicalism holds these are not “mistakes” out of which people can be educated; we need to confront and dismantle systems of power, and redistribute that power. Both approaches are necessary: we need to stop the ability of the powerful to destroy the planet, and simultaneously to repair and rebuild local systems. But as a radical environmentalist, I found the exclusively liberal focus of Open Sesame disappointing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with its take on seed sovereignty; the film is good for what it is; and I’m in no way criticizing the interviewees doing such great and important work around seed saving and education. But there are already so many liberal analyses and proposed solutions in the environmental realm that this film’s treatment doesn’t really add anything new to the discussion.
Read the entire review of Open Sesame at the Deep Green Resistance News Service.