Laura Dunn started making documentaries in response to her undergraduate experience at Yale University. Through a chronicle of labor strikes on campus, THE SUBTEXT OF A YALE EDUCATION examines the corporatization of higher education. She then returned to her birthplace to make GREEN, a sobering look at environmental racism along the Mississippi River petrochemical corridor, a.k.a. “Cancer Alley”. Other work includes experimental films BABY, a personal take on population issues, and BECOME THE SKY, an ecological map of power in Texas. Her first feature documentary, THE UNFORESEEN, executive produced by Robert Redford and Terrence Malick, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, was released theatrically and broadcast on the Sundance Channel. Her film, LOOK & SEE, also executive produced by Robert Redford and Terrence Malick, and funded in part by the Sundance Documentary Film Fund, is a cinematic portrait of writer and farmer Wendell Berry. Honors include a Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship, Student Academy Award, Yale’s Trumbull Fine Arts Prize, International Documentary Association Pare Lorenz Grant and an Independent Spirit Truer Than Fiction Award. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and six young boys.
LOOK & SEE revolves around the divergent stories of several residents of Henry County, Kentucky who each face difficult choices that will dramatically reshape their relationship with the land and their community.
In 1965, Wendell Berry returned home to Henry County, where he bought a small farm house and began a life of farming, writing and teaching. This lifelong relationship with the land and community would come to form the core of his prolific writings. A half century later, Henry County, like many rural communities across America, has become a place of quiet ideological struggle. In the span of a generation, the agrarian virtues of simplicity, land stewardship, sustainable farming, local economies and rootedness to place have been replaced by a capital-intensive model of industrial agriculture characterized by machine labor, chemical fertilizers, soil erosion and debt — all of which have frayed the fabric of rural communities. Writing from a long wooden desk beneath a 40-paned window, Berry has watched this struggle unfold, becoming one of its most passionate and eloquent voices in defense of agrarian life.
Filmed across four seasons in the farming cycle, LOOK & SEE blends observational scenes of farming life, interviews with farmers and community members with evocative, carefully framed shots of the surrounding landscape. Thus, in the spirit of Berry’s agrarian philosophy, Henry County itself will emerge as a character in the film — a place and a landscape that is deeply interdependent with the people that inhabit it.