A heartbreaking and undeniably one of the most important films of the Hot Docs film festival, Finding North explores the existence of the working poor and the fact that 49 million people go hungry in the United States.
With the rise of corporate agriculture receiving the majority of government subsidies and the class divide growing between the poor and the under-taxed rich, a once great nation (and possibly a great one again should they wake up before its too late) is stumbling and sacrificing their own future by ignoring the most important resource their children and their citizens.
The film spans America following rural and urban families, some unemployed some with parents working more than one job, and no one making enough to survive on.
Instead of being a stinging indictment on government and corporate policy, the filmmakers instead illustrate poignantly the conditions and existence of those people money-hungry companies and corporate funded governments have chosen to ignore.
It illustrates food banks, food stamps, the school lunch and breakfast programs, and the requirements to be eligible for them, and how the difference of two dollars pay can get you kicked off the program.
Despite that, the film remains steadfastly objective sharing the statistical facts and illustrating the subjects’ existence. The country, undeniably one of the richest in the world, is flush with food, real food, not the cheap processed food, which is all some of these families can afford and which leads to an increase of obesity, and yet they cannot feed their own people.
Speaking as someone who has survived weeks at a time on nothing more than a box of honey comb cereal and a jar of peanut butter because I wasn’t making enough to cover my rent and buy groceries, I can say that this phenomenon is real and needs to be addressed.
The film shows how since 1980 the price of processed food (produced by corporate agriculture – chips, snacks, cookies, etc.) has gone down, while fruits and vegetables have gone up 40% in price – a leading cause of obesity because the working poor can no longer afford healthy food, they have to buy what they can and make it last as long as possible, so of course you’re going to shop cheap!
It’s time for a wake-up for America, and by extension the world. It’s time to stop thinking of the individual, it’s time to think of the country, the world, the species.
We can be better, the efforts of many people in this film profoundly illustrates that.
So why are those in power, those with the ability to make things better not doing so…
Finding North screens again Thursday May 3 at 1:00pm at the Isabel Bader Theater and Saturday May 5 at 1:30pm at the ROM.