a white couple poses with handfuls of soil against lush greenery
Common Ground Credit: Music Box Theatre

Winner at the Tribeca Film Festival, Common Ground—Josh Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell’s sequel to their award-winning 2020 documentary, Kiss the Ground—uses the “spread the message” approach to advocate for regenerative agriculture. The message is simple: SOS, as in Save Our Soil. 

“The one thing keeping us alive,” Woody Harrelson, one of several big names who serve as narrators, folksily states, “is the soil we’re standing on.” Regenerative agriculture is proffered as the great green hope. This stewardship of the land has roots in Indigenous practices. It eliminates tilling, halts chemicals, and initiates planned grazing and the planting of different cover crop species. What does this look like? Farmer Gabe Brown, the film’s rooting hero, takes viewers to the edge of his lush thriving acreage to view his neighbor’s land, which looks like something out of The Grapes of Wrath. Like the Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth, Common Ground has urgency, but in its use of plain-speaking farmers and Indigenous practitioners to methodically present its argument, it’s—wait for it—more down to earth. They make the case that traditional farming methods turn soil to dust, “destroying the very thing that feeds us, regulates rain, and balances the climate.” Jason Momoa sounds a low-growled cautionary note: “Nature is the mother of us all,” he states, “and if mama ain’t happy, we’re fucked.” 

But Common Ground is not all doom and apocalyptic gloom. The film includes success stories where crops (and profits) grow. Rebecca Harrell Tickell is the former child star of the underseen Christmas gem, Prancer. This film might make you just as much a true believer. Yes, Virginia, there is regenerative agriculture. 105 min.

Screening 11/18 at 8 PM at the Music Box Theatre, with Joshua Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell in attendance for a ticketed VIP reception and a postfilm panel discussion

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