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THREE FARMERS AND A SON

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by Sigmund Steiner

grade: 7

In Three Farmers and a Son, three generations meet, confront one another, collaborate and create, together, a beautiful harmony. Sigmund Steiner, for his part, has sensitively and intelligently captured every single aspect of farmers’ lives and their special bond with the land, leading to a much broader and more complex discourse.

From generation to generation

Land. A life in close contact with nature. A return to the origins. A complicated father-son relationship that is analysed, recounted, lovingly remembered through the lives of others. Young filmmaker Sigmund Steiner recalled his childhood and the figure of his father in his debut documentary Three Farmers and a Son, made in 2016 and set entirely in the Austrian countryside.

Three farmers look after the animals, the land, the timber. The son of one of them does not yet know whether he will follow in his father’s footsteps, but in the meantime, he devotes himself to working in the fields every day. Each one of them tells his story before Sigmund Steiner’s camera, talks to us about his tasks, describes his everyday life, confides his problems of the present, while recalling anecdotes from the past. Everything is quiet in the world in which the protagonists live. Everything seems to follow a usual routine. But how long will this routine last? How willing will future generations be to invest in what their parents and grandparents created?

In Three Farmers and a Son, the director tells us about a reality that may no longer exist in the future. A reality in which time seems to stand still, but also in which it is time itself that tells the protagonists when they have to devote themselves to certain tasks. The camera gives us long shots and strongly contemplative moments. Silence reigns supreme for the most part of the film. Only from time to time the protagonists address the director, answer a few brief questions, exchange a few words with each other.

Three Farmers and a Son is a heartfelt – and often painful – journey between past and present. A journey in which, through observation of the present, one tries to better understand one’s past and to elaborate on events that have made one suffer. Quiet moments alternate with decidedly more ‘brutal’ scenes (just think of the killing of a sheep at the opening of the documentary) and moments of tenderness, in which a little girl, during a short hike, lets her grandfather explain her work in the woods.

In Three Farmers and a Son, three generations meet, confront one another, collaborate and create, together, a beautiful harmony. Sigmund Steiner, for his part, has sensitively and intelligently captured every single aspect of farmers’ lives and their special bond with the land, leading to a much broader and more complex discourse. A discourse that starts from a small reality and deals with universal and personal issues at the same time, very complex issues such as a parent-child relationship, always incredibly topical issues. Images of a world, of many worlds of which, unfortunately, few seem to have fully understood the true meaning.

Original title: Holz Erde Fleisch
Directed by: Sigmund Steiner
Country/year: Austria / 2016
Running time: 72’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Sigmund Steiner
Cinematography: Michael Schindegger
Produced by: La Banda Film

Info: the website of Three Farmers and a Son; the page of Three Farmers and a Son on iMDb; the page of Three Farmers and a Son on the website of the Austrian Film Commission