Hot Docs 2016 Review: The Seer
The best way to describe director Laura Dunn’s The Seer is “austere”.
A meditation on Wendell Berry and the American farmer, the film plays out in a fashion similar to how one would imagine a film in a film produced by Terrence Malick and Robert Redford. Though that would be a bit reductive, as the filmmaker possesses a style all her own and seamlessly incorporates Lee Daniel’s lush cinematography. The focus is held perfectly steady, the narration is similarly written up on a typewriter, there are chapters, and characters are introduced with titles like “daughter”, (styled completely in lowercase).
The film deserves great praise in that it plays out at its own speed, leisurely documenting the livelihood of a farm through the parable of its early progenitor. It never stops to become condescending and allows a reflective viewer to experience opening shots of people walking by at a too fast pace and empty modern offices to revel in a Kentucky farming culture.
A possible misgiving is that the pace is perhaps a little too leisurely. But the sense of austerity and professionalism as a just cause to see The Seer.