Ireland/USA, 2009, 85 minutes
Thu, Apr 29 / 1:30 / Kabuki / COLO29K
Sat, May 01 / 7:00 / Kabuki / COLO01K
Mon, May 03 / 4:15 / Kabuki / COLO03K
To bee or not to bee is more than an idle question for this country’s professional apiarists; it’s the summation of a precarious, teetering reality with consequences for us all. Facing the combined pressures of a major recession and, beginning in 2006, the dramatic and still unexplained disappearance of huge numbers of honeybees—a phenomenon dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder—many itinerant beekeepers struggle to keep operations afloat. Some, like major player David Mendes, see no future for their offspring in this crucial line of work, which each year brings pollinating honeybees to many staple crops nationwide. The plight of the American beekeeper is at the heart of Ross McDonnell and Carter Gunn’s urgently intriguing and visually dazzling documentary, but the film makes clear why their fate should be of no peripheral concern to any of us. The destinies of each species prove inescapably intertwined in this cleverly constructed, at times remarkably candid set of portraits—especially of one tight-knit Christian fundamentalist family of apiarists, the Seppis—as beekeepers band together to find answers to the CCD mystery (leading Mendes and his colleagues to the doors of Bayer, a major pesticide manufacturer). The filmmakers are there to capture sensitive negotiations with farmers as well as the tensions and frustrations roiling the Seppi family from within, as a perfect swarm of forces rocks—with particularly strong metaphorical insistence—a devout household otherwise tending toward a hive-like purity of purpose and order. Ultimately, Colony includes us all in a single, delicate balance of symbiotic lives.
Presented in association with Green Festival. GGA Documentary Feature Contender.