© MFA/Filmagentinnen

Bauer unser
Austria 2016

Opening 23 Mar 2017

Directed by: Robert Schabus
Writing credits: Robert Schabus
Principal actors: José Bové, Friedrich Grojer, Ewald Grünzweil, Benedikt Haerlin, Phil Hogan

Director Robert Schabus has made eight documentary films, including one about people influenced by construction and one about a mountain. More than half are about his home of Kärnten, the southern-most state in Austria. For Bauer Unser (which means: our farmer) Schabus returns to Austria where he visits many farmers and discusses their situations and futures. His childhood, growing up on a farm in Kärnten, helps him ask the right questions. We meet big-business farmers who concentrate on one product, such as Gröjer with 130 milk cows, Martin Suette who sells more than 3000 pigs a year, to Franz Tatschl who sells eggs from his 65,000 chickens. Their farms are huge factories. Believe me: a robot-driven milking machine is something to watch.

Then there are smaller farmers who concentrate on bio products in more various categories such as Maria Vogt who sells bio vegetables, sheep’s milk, (which she milks by hand) wine and grain. She is one of 2% of the farmers who sell directly to the consumer, as well as Simon Vetter, who sells vegetables directly to 500-700 households every week.

Since Schabus is Austrian, it is logical that he features his country, but the facts could definitely represent all the farmers in Europe and possibly the U.S. Farms grow bigger and bigger; villages become empty. In 80% of the world a farmer lives on two acres or less and has one cow – something which would be impossible in Europe. We learn that one farmer in Germany feeds 145 people in that country. The highest rate of suicides in France was among farmers with 600 in a year. Although Schabus cannot solve the problems of the future, the film presents much to consider and helps us understand this ancient, essential profession. (Becky Tan)

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