Fantastic Fest: A Life On The Farm (2022)

Director: Oscar Harding

Running Time: 75 Minutes

Starring: Derrick Beckles, Lehr Beidelschies, Charles Carson, Oscar Harding, Karen Kilgariff, Thomas Lynch, Nic Maier, Joe Pickett, Nick Prueher, Davy Rothbart, Peter Shaw, Dimitri Simakis, Koo Stark

After his grandfather's passing, filmmaker Oscar Harding was left an extraordinary video-tape. While living in Somerset, England, the tape was given to the grandfather by his neighbour, Charles Carson. The home video - entitled A Life On The Farm - was a surreal and extraordinary experience to behold, as witnessed whenever it pops up throughout the documentary.

While any film could've treated the footage and Carson as something to be ridiculed at, Harding goes deeper to look at the person behind the video. There was much more to the man than being a face on the screen - he was an inventor that previously worked as a teacher, before having to care for his deteriorating parents while working on their farm.

Charles lived a life with much sadness, and he used the filming as a way to cope with grief. From footage of a live cow birth, to burying one of his deceased cats, the video celebrates life from beginning to end. One touching story is a revelation regarding why Harding's grandfather kept the video, as it contained the only documented footage of his departed wife.

As talking heads discuss the inner workings of this mans mind, there's a real effort to get under Charles' skin and understand who he was. The answer appeared to be a man feeling lost without the family he spent so long taking care of. Using photographs and videos, he found a way to channel his unique sense of humor into expressing himself, and trying to invite others into his family life. There's much heart to this documentary, capturing a man's humanity in such touching ways.

As people express their fondness for A Life on the Farm, it's heartwarming to see such joy found in the work of a man who went largely unrecognized. Charles Carson distributed the videos to his neighbours because he wanted to share what he loved doing and also find an audience. What Harding created manages to do just that, in this fitting tribute to a creative force that went unappreciated in his time.

A Life On The Farm previously played at Fantastic Fest 2022