Arts + Entertainment / Lifestyle

Screen, Engage, Impact

After living in Harrisonburg for the past four years, I think it’s safe to say that people here really like to talk about food. And not even just talking about it but thinking about food, dreaming up recipes, and, of course, eating the best meats and produce in possibly all of Virginia. And I know it sometimes seems like the community has been drilling the whole local, healthful, and sustainable food thing into our heads latel, but let’s be honest, we could all go for a little bit more, right? That’s why I am so excited to announce that the Reel Change Documentary Film Festival is starting tomorrow, Thursday, April 12, and running through Saturday, April 14.

Reel Change started as just a small and simple idea: to show some cool movies about food. But from there it turned into the foundation for what will be an annual documentary film festival for the JMU and Harrisonburg communities to enjoy. And although the theme of this year’s fest is food, it will change every year to showcase documentaries that highlight and discuss issues relevant to the interests of people at the time.

The festival is a way for the entire community to come together and hopefully become inspired to engage in positive activism and promote helpful change in their surroundings. Along with that, it will allow for open discussion amongst community members by inviting filmmakers and local activists to give their opinions, explanations, and advice. As the title implies, it seeks to use the art of the documentary film medium as a means to motivate realistic and constructive change.

This year’s films deal with a variety of food topics. The festival starts with two documentaries: JMU student-produced The Farm Course and Grow! Though short in length, they are tremendous in inspiration as they explore the growing community of youth and students who are turning away from their set career paths and taking a chance in farming instead. Friday’s film, Cafeteria Man, takes viewers into the depths of city school cafeterias and shows the efforts of the community to provide local and healthful foods and nutrition education for their children. A Q&A session with Richard Chisolm, the filmmaker, and Andrea Early, the Executive Director of School Nutrition for Harrisonburg City Schools, will follow. Finally, with another double feature on Saturday, the festival presents Apple Pushers and The Love of Beer. The former displays the efforts of immigrant pushcart sellers as they try to provide fruits and vegetables to the residents of inner-city neighborhoods. The Love of Beer follows the struggles and successes of several women as they make their living in the craft beer industry.

Reel Change is sure to be a moving and exciting event for the entire community to enjoy and provides the special opportunity to view recent documentaries and hear commentary from filmmakers and topic experts immediately following each film. I hope to see you this weekend as we work to inspire some real change in the community!

For more information on the times and locations of the films, please visit the website at

Katie George was the HDR Promotions Intern for fall of 2011. She is a senior Media Arts & Design major at James Madison University.

Poster designed by Maggie Josey.


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