Dirt! The Movie

April 20, 2010


Gene Rosow


About the Documentary

Floods, drought, climate change, and even war are all directly related to the fate of humble dirt. Made from the same elements as stars, plants, and human beings, dirt is very much alive. One teaspoon of dirt contains a billion organisms working in balance to sustain a series of complex, thriving communities that are invisibly a part of our daily lives. Dirt! The Movie tells the story of Earth’s most valuable and underappreciated source of fertility — from its miraculous beginning to its tragic degradation. This insightful and timely film tells the story of the glorious and unappreciated material beneath our feet.

Narrated by Jaimie Lee Curtis and inspired by William Bryant Logan’s acclaimed book Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the EarthDirt! The Movie introduces viewers to dirt’s fascinating history. Four billion years of evolution have created the dirt that recycles our water, gives us food, and provides us with shelter. But humanity has endangered this vital living resource with destructive methods of agriculture, mining practices, and urban development, with catastrophic results: mass starvation, drought, and global warming.

The filmmakers travel around the world to capture the stories of global visionaries who are discovering new ways to repair humanity’s relationship with soil, checking in with Dr. Vandana Shiva to discuss her fight to prevent world hunger by preserving biodiversity in India, and documenting the tree planting work of renowned photographer Sebastião Salgado and his wife Lélia in Brazil. From farmers rediscovering sustainable agriculture and scientists discovering connections with soil to inmates learning job skills in a prison horticulture program and children eating from edible schoolyards, Dirt! The Movie brings to life the environmental, economic, social, and political importance of soil and suggests ways we can create new possibilities for all life on Earth.

The Filmmakers

Gene Rosow
During his more than 30 years in the industry, Gene Rosow has written, directed, and produced more than 20 documentaries, including Doctora for England’s Channel 4, Routes of Rhythm with Harry Belafonte for PBS, and Knights for Canal + France. His feature film producing credits include Silent Tongue, Zeus and Roxanne, and Britney Baby One More Time. Apart from filmmaking, Rosow has a PhD in history from the University of California at Berkeley where he also taught. He also spent a year of post-graduate work at the University of Southern California studying ecology, biochemistry, cellular physiology, and parisitology.

Bill Benenson

In more than 30 years of producing and directing, Bill Benenson has made several documentaries, including The Marginal Way, about the fishing and artistic community of Ogunquit, Maine; and Diamond Rivers, a first-person account of diamond prospecting in northeastern Brazil. Both were PBS specials broadcast on New York’s WNET. With Benenson Productions and its predecessor, BBZ Films, Benenson was a development executive, producer or executive producer on several feature films, including Under the Volcano, The Lightship, and A Walk On The Moon. In addition, he was executive producer on Mister Johnson.

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