In the Périgord region of southwest France, a rural community grapples with a profound question: will it be the last generation of family farmers in a region continuously cultivated for over five thousand years?
AFTER WINTER, SPRING is an intimate study of these French farmers as they struggle with that issue. Six years in the making, the film captures the daily lives of Nanou, Guy and other neighbors with deep roots in the Périgord. At their kitchen tables and in their fields, these family farmers communicate a profound attachment to the land. But the film’s characters also share their day-to-day challenges and their fears that small-scale operations such as theirs may be no match for the multitude of 21st century threats.
In an era of rapid growth of mega-farms, the encroachment of suburbia, new European Union rules, and reductions of agricultural subsidies, these farmers — young and old — are forced to confront challenges that threaten the very existence of their small farms.
Their story is recorded by one of their neighbors, an American filmmaker who grew up on her family’s farm in Pennsylvania. Inter-weaving her story and theirs, the film explores the nature of the farming life and the changes, over the last 60 years, that impact the lives of families whose survival is tied to the land. As each of the farmer’s stories unfolds, we see their individual responses to change…the losses and the surprising adaptations.
This farming community caught between tradition and an uncertain future struggles to hold on not only to their farms but to a set of values that comes of their intimate relationship with the natural world. AFTER WINTER, SPRING reveals the human story of family farming at a turning point in history.