About the film...
Watch a preview
Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home is a new documentary by the award-winning filmmakers of The Witness.
A riveting story of transformation and healing, this 78-minute documentary portrays the experience of five farmers, an animal rescuer and a humane police officer, each engaged in a courageous struggle of conscience. As they attempt to re-integrate parts of themselves that were fragmented by expectations and experiences that went against their deepest natures, they reveal the complex web of social, psychological and economic forces that have led to their present conflict. Their powerful testimony, combined with rare footage providing insight into the emotional lives of animals, creates an unforgettable portrait of farm life that many viewers have called "a life-changing experience."
Video highlights from
the World Premiere
Video highlights from
the Chicago Premiere
Audiences are saying...
"Phenomenal film. Life-changing."
"I felt 'whole' after watching the film. It makes connections that I don't encounter in everyday life. It made me feel larger than myself, like I am a part of something bigger."
"Moving and honest."
"Beautiful. Courageous. It has raised my awareness to a whole new level."
"The first time I cried and laughed at the same time. I feel awakened and alive."
"This is by far the best film on our modern agricultural system, and an alternative view, that I have ever seen."
"It has re-awakened in my soul what I have known all along and now I must follow. Thank you."
"We are truly all connected, and this documentary shows this better than anything else out there."
"Very clarifying, morally and ethically."
"Our world needs this message -- it was heartfelt, tragic, hopeful and inspiring. I'm overwhelmed and grateful."
"I can honestly say that after seeing this film, I am changed for the better."
"This film reminds me to live with heartfelt connections to animals, people and the earth."
"My heart has been broken, and opened."
"Everyone on the planet needs to see this film. I am deeply moved."
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Film subject Harold Brown
(Sunday screening only)
A fifth-generation farmer from Michigan, Harold Brown worked in animal agriculture for half of his life. In Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, he shares the touching story of how he broke away from the traditions of his upbringing to forge a new way in the world, based on his desire to live in harmony with his most deeply held values. In 2008, Harold founded a charitable organization called Farmkind, “to be a resource for farmers who want to make the transition from animal based to plant based agriculture, for consumers to learn a different perspective on how food is produced, to help those who desire to reconnect with the land and become farmers, to support local food production, environmental and social justice issues, the rights of all living beings to be co-cohabitants of this planet, and how these things have everything to do with creating the peaceful world that all beings desire.”
Film subject Cheri Ezell-Vandersluis
(Sunday screening only)
When Cheri Ezell met New England dairy farmer Jim Vandersluis, he was milking cows and she was a hobby farmer with a dream of opening her own goat dairy. Once married, Cheri's dream came true, and she and Jim began raising and milking goats at Maple Farm Dairy. Their experiences with the goats led to a remarkable change of consciousness that is depicted in Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home.
With their newfound awareness, Cheri and Jim changed their diets, gave up dairying, and converted their farm to a sanctuary. Their story is rare and inspiring, and their journey took enormous courage, sacrifice and heart. Today, Maple Farm Sanctuary is a refuge for 80 or so animals rescued from slaughter, about half of whom require special care, and all of whom will live out their full lives in peace.
Composer Kevin Bartlett
(Sunday screening only)
Kevin Bartlett is a gifted composer and producer whose music, along with that of Joy Askew, comprises the score for Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home. In recent years, Kevin has released two sonically intricate and creatively groundbreaking solo albums, Near Life Experience and Glow in the Dark, for which he composed, arranged, and played all the instruments, including keyboards, percussion and guitar.
Kevin was in the midst of completing Glow in the Dark when Tribe of Heart began editing Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home. He generously gave us access to successive versions of his tracks as they evolved, and almost effortlessly, the complex energy and nonlinear temporal dynamics of his new album became part of the DNA of the film. Kevin’s music brings the spirit of the story to life, ever reminding the audience that love and beauty are just as deep and real -- and perhaps even stronger -- than the darkness many of us struggle to overcome.
Filmmakers Jenny Stein
(Saturday and Sunday screenings)
The work of documentary filmmakers Jenny Stein and James LaVeck has been recognized by film festival juries and audience members for its uncompromising yet compassionate portrayal of the interplay between what is most troubling in human society with what is most inspiring in human nature. Stein (director) and LaVeck (producer) are co-founders of the Ithaca, New York-based non-profit documentary production organization Tribe of Heart.
For the last ten years, Tribe of Heart films have appeared in 80 festivals around the world and won 17 top awards, including 4 for Best of Festival and 12 for Best Documentary. Their work has appeared on PBS, LinkTV, FreeSpeech TV, and the United Kingdom’s Community Channel.
About the festival...
The Berkshire International Film Festival brings the best in political, cultural, environmental and topical films to an engaged community in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. Part of the festival's mission is to showcase the most challenging and topically relevant documentaries each year. This year's festival will take place June 3-6 at venues in Great Barrington and Pittsfield, and will feature a special tribute to actress Patricia Clarkson.