“Connected by Coffee,” a new film that documents the human relationships between coffee farmers, buyers, roasters and consumers, is set to premier in Indianapolis on April 2 at the Athenaeum Foundation Theater as part of the Fair Trade Federation conference.
Married filmmakers Chelsea Bay Dennis and Aaron Dennis, under the name Stone Hut Studios, describe the documentary as “a 1000-mile journey across Central America to show how coffee farmers and consumers can work together to create a more just world.” Here’s the trailer:
Specifically, the journey followed Matt Earley of Just Coffee Cooperative in Madison, Wis., and Chris Treter of Higher Grounds Trading Co. in Traverse City, Mich., as they met farmer cooperative partners just more than a year ago. We first covered this journey in a series of short videos produced by the Dennises called the Fair Trade Chronicles (check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4). Stone Hut continues to seek sponsors to help promote and distribute the film.
In response to the leaf rust (la roya) outbreak that continues to affect farms throughout Central America, the filmmakers are donating 5 percent of all proceeds to the four coffee cooperatives featured in the film, with money going toward specific re-planting, organic fertilization or intensive organic training programs, and food security garden projects or other initiatives to generate additional family income.
This is not the first time Stone Hut has tackled agricultural equity issues. Their 2012 film “The People and The Olive” shed light on the plight of a group of Palestinian olive farmers. An additional screening of “Connected by Coffee” is scheduled for April 22nd at the State Theatre in Traverse City, Mich.
As for the film itself, here are some of Stone Hut’s goals:
Our journey will serve as the launching point for a wide-ranging discussion, including:
An Examination of our Coffee Culture
The Lives of Coffee Farmers
The Extraordinary Process of Making Coffee
The Troubled History of Latin America
The Future of Fair Trade
And we’ll explore all this in the context of the broader movement for social justice that includes the struggles for Indigenous Rights, Campesino Rights, Agrarian Reform, Women’s Empowerment, Food Sovereignty and Community Resilience.
We’ll also hear the voices of Fair Trade’s pioneers and experts who will discuss the ideals of the movement, the serious challenges it faces and their dreams for the future.
Along the way, we’ll ask some of the toughest questions that the movement faces:
Can a label on a product ensure justice?
Is Fair Trade compatible with big business?
Are cooperatives the only just way to protect farmers’ rights?
Is Fair Trade even fair?
Nick Brown is the editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. Feedback and story ideas are welcome at publisher (at) dailycoffeenews.com, or see the "About Us" page for contact information.