Thursday May 16, 2013

SHELBURNE FALLS, Mass. -- Nearly 40 years after its first release, "Root Hog or Die," the Franklin County documentary film on the last of the old time horse farmers in Western Massachusetts, re-appears on the big screen in Shelburne Falls. On Friday and Saturday, May 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m., Pothole Pictures presents two screenings of "Root Hog or Die" in the historic 400-seat Memorial Hall Theater, located at 51 Bridge St. The film is co-sponsored by Communities Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, the Franklin Land Trust and the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association.

On Saturday, May 18, the film’s director, Rawn Fulton will present the recently re-mastered digital version of the original 56-minute film made in 1974, and will lead a community conversation about farming then and now together with a panel of local farmers. They include farmers and local families whose experience stretches back for generations and who are connected to many of the farmers featured in "Root Hog or Die" -- Jim Wholey and the Dole family of Shelburne and Al Pieropan of Ashfield. Contemporary farmers with long family roots in Franklin County also include Faith and Peter Williams representing the Our Family Farms dairy cooperative and John and Carolyn Wheeler of Wheelview Farm. Newer arrivals to Franklin County farming include Paul Lacinski and Amy Klippenstein of Side Hill Farm in Hawley and David Fisher and Anna Maclay of New Roots CSA in Conway. New Roots brings the horse-powered farming tradition back to Franklin County in a new form -- community supported agriculture. A recent Mohawk High School graduate will represent the new generation of young farmers revitalizing agriculture in Franklin County.

"Root Hog or Die" captures the lives and stories of the old time horse farmers in Franklin County in their own voices, faces, ingenious technology and well-tended land. According to Pothole Pictures coordinator, Fred DeVecca, "Rawn Fulton’s film provides a vibrant and down-to-earth historical context for the resurgence of local agriculture, CSAs and micro-farming in Franklin County today. It’s a piece of film art about our neighbors as elegantly simple as Shaker furniture."

The film had its first national broadcast in 1978 on PBS. Fulton has lived in Bernardston for four decades since making "Root Hog or Die" at age 26 and makes a wide range of movies with his own company, Searchlight Films. The late folklorist, Alan Lomax, described Fulton’s film as "a significant contribution to American oral history."

Each film showing is preceded by a half hour of music donated by local musicians. On Friday, May 17, at 7 p.m., Paul Crook and Carol DeLorenzo play Celtic tunes and funny songs. On Saturday, May 18, at 7 p.m., Whistlestop presents fiddle and banjo music.

"Root Hog or Die" is a movie that will help you sink your own roots deeper into Franklin County and Western Massachusetts," said Fred DeVecca. "It connects us to our neighbors, our history, the land and the farms we depend on and gives us all an opportunity to show our support for local agriculture."

Movie tickets can be purchased in advance (five tickets for $20) or at the door ($6 adults, $4 children). For more information, contact Fred DeVecca at 413-625-2896 or visit www.shelburnefallsmemorialhall.org.