One Man, One Cow, One Planet

 “The Law of Attraction” simply says that one naturally  attracts into one's life whatever one think about deeply. One's dominant thoughts will always find a way to manifest themselves. And that is how MedhaJournal got introduced to a phenomenal documentary movie “One Man, One Cow, One Planet” made by Cloud South Films Ltd. This movie is an eye opener, not just to the ecological reality of India but also the dawning awareness of just how precarious our existence on this planet is.

"One Man, One Cow, One Planet" was nominated in prestigious niche film festivals such as Sonoma Environmental Film Festival, Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival, South Asian International Film Festival, Greendance film festival and many others, and bagged awards such as Katherine Knight Award, Award of Excellence.

The makers of this documentary movie for this great social cause, are the Canadian husband Tom Burstyn and his Kiwi wife Barbara Sumner Burstyn and their very creative team. Tom is a multi-award winning, Emmy nominated filmmaker with 30 years experience as cinematographer and Barbara is the co-director, co-producer, researcher, writer of this movie. She is a widely published journalist, researcher and writer in New Zealand.

Sreeparna Lahiri from The Medhajournal interviewed Barbara Sumner Burstyn to learn her thoughts around making “One Man, One Cow, One Planet”!!

Q. How can one man and one cow save the world? Can you please elaborate on this movie? How and what inspired you to make this documentary movie?

The title of our film is a metaphor. Each of us can be the change we want to see in the world. Our film is about one man and his crusade. While he does not literally own one cow, he shows us how cow dung can save the world from the ravages of chemical farming. We were inspired to make this film by the profound simplicity and truth of his methods and beliefs.

Q. You are a Canadian and Kiwi husband and wife team, however your movie is based on the Modern industrial agriculture and its toxic effects in India. When the modern industrial agriculture and its toxic effects are rampant all over the world, how is it that India got you interested?

We live in New Zealand and the hero of our film lived just up the road from us. He was moving to India to live full time and we were amazed a man of 78 would do that. We just decided one day to follow him there. We found this humble man, an aging local gardener was like a rock star in India, surrounded by young farmers everywhere he went, wanting to learn about compost heaps and how to break away from the tyranny of bio-colonialism and toxic chemical farming.

India has such a profound history of sustainable agriculture that it is easy for them to return to natural ways. And of course the cow is revered so Peter's methods, his great respect for the cow, was a natural fit. And also India was at the forefront of the damage caused by the so-called Green Revolution where massive loads of chemicals were used to create bumper crops. But those crops came at the expense of soil health, human health and ecological diversity and sustainability.

Q. Is this documentary based on some thorough research? How can organic farming with one bucket of cow dung be sustainable in a country such as in India with a population of 1.12 billion (about 17% of world population), and with frequent natural disasters, pests, and plant related deadly diseases?

Yes, I'm an investigative journalist by trade. Chemical farming causes the ravages you speak of where nature is severely out of balance. Biodynamics as a system sustains families and communities. It is a return to the self-sustaining village as the centre of the universe. The alternative is corporate ownership of land and seeds, of human life itself. It has been proven that organic and biodynamic farming can produce enough to fed everyone with no damage to the environment, no damage to the water table or the health of humans. But the corporations would not survive if the power was returned to the people so we are all under the spell of a massive propaganda machine that ensures we never understand these issues outside of the framework they have created to maintain their power. Our film explains this very clearly.

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Q. Even though India has increased industrial agriculture, organic farming was a traditionally practiced concept in India till recent times. Could you tell us where and how did this particular concept in the film originate, is there any mention in the movie about the pre-existing practices in India?

Yes there certainly is. And it is this natural and very deep affinity with nature that has enabled the miracle of biodynamic agriculture to flourish in India. Chemical farming and centralized, corporate ownership of the food supply is such a new phenomena in India and yet in a few short years they have destroyed India's greatest wealth – it's humus rich soils.

Q. One Man, One Cow, One Planet documentary has already seen recognition in several film award; South Asian International Film Award, Sonoma environmental film festival, Katherine Knight award and so on to name just few of them. Can you tell our Medhavis some of the highlights of this movie?

I think this film continues to be so popular because of its simple truth that chemical farming destroys everything it touches. And the fact the film explores very big issues – bio-colonialism and food sovereignty through the stories of ordinary farmers and one man who every day lives the solution.

Q. Your movie is not just another documentary to save the environment, a royalty will be returned to support the work of biodynamics in India. Do you have any particular organization/individual in mind that should deserve this support?

We return a royalty to Peter Proctor to support his work and that of others working to bring biodynamic agriculture to India:

Q. Can you tell us about your production house Cloud South Films, when and how it came into being? Do you have any other movies that are in making? Are all your documentaries related to making this world a better place to live? How do you choose your subjects or scripts of your movie?

We set up our little company because we also wanted to be the change we want to see in the world. Tom's a cinematographer of 30+ years experience and I'm a journalist and we were sick and tired of being controlled by corporate media. So we decided to put everything we had into making this film – instead of taking a holiday or paying of our mortgage. We think it was a good decision.

We are working on our next film: this Way of Life – about a Maori family who live near us who have 6 kids and 50 horses and a deeply connected relationship to land as lifeblood. It's a film about finding meaning in nature and family. We are also working on a series of films for parents on how to bring up kids without chemicals or drugs.

Yes, we only make films about subjects that bring good into the world. And it seems the subjects chose us.

Q. Any suggestions to the young and aspiring filmmakers from our community? Any other experiences that you would like to share with the readers?

My suggestion would be to take the initiative. If you have a story to tell and can get hold of a camera then just go and do it. The Universe has a habit of supporting those who desire to make a difference and then act upon that desire. We find ourselves supported, lifted up and graced every single day. And perhaps my advice would be to stay away from fancy film magazines. They make it seem impossible and unattainable especially if you don't have much money or re not part of the 'in' crowd or well connected. But actually this medium is getting more affordable all the time and if you have a good story the audience will come to you.


or  use this —


{xtypo_rounded1}It is not over yet! How about participating in a Contest  inspired by this? Keep checking Medha Contests…{/xtypo_rounded1}

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