ITHACA, N.Y.—In a world where the increasingly visible effects of climate change are on people’s minds more than ever before, an award-winning documentary with a unique Ithaca connection will be bringing topical discussions of environmental activism to the community.
On Sunday, Oct. 1 at 6 p.m., Cinemapolis will be showing Common Ground, a new documentary that explores the topic of regenerative farming and posits that everybody, despite their differences, is connected by the importance of taking care of the soil and planet we live on. A talk-back event will follow the showing.
Directed by duo Josh Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell as a follow-up to their Netflix hit Kiss the Ground, the film stars notable names like Laura Dern, Jason Momoa, Donald Glover and Woody Harrelson. Common Ground won the Human/Nature Award at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year.
One of the film’s producers, Ryland Engelhart, was born and raised in Ithaca and is excited to return as part of the talkback that will follow the Cinemapolis screening.
“It feels amazing to return home with a message of hope, healing and unity,” Engelhart said. “I think Ithaca has been a beautiful community of consciousness and wanting to bring people together.”
For the past 11 years, Engelhart has been working, funding and growing the Kiss the Ground profit. After raising $100,000 to make Kiss the Ground, Engelhart began a seven-year long collaboration with the Tickells, taking on the message of regenerative agriculture and soil as a solution for climate, water and human health.
“Common Ground shows a very bipartisan and diverse cross-section of society that can find common values in how we produce food, steward land and the outcomes that regenerative agriculture can have on our planetary health,” Engelhart said.
Engelhart co-founded the Kiss the Ground nonprofit with Finian Makepeace, another former Ithaca resident. Engelhart recalls growing up going to the Ithaca Farmers Market, eating whole wheat bread and local produce.
“That good nourishment of education and community from Ithaca helped instill in me this possibility of conveying this message and being an advocate for healthy soil, healthy people and a healthy planet,” Engelhart said.
Kate Donohue, executive director at Cinemapolis, said that locals were approaching her about the enticing possibility of showing the film in theaters because of its message and Tribeca victory. After hearing about the project from several different people, it felt like a sign to Donohue that it was a great fit.
“There’s a conversation happening now about what can we do and what power do we have in this moment?” Donohue said. “I’m excited that Cinemapolis can be a space for that conversation.”
Engelhart will join Yao Foli, an activist educator at The Noise Project and Tina Nilsen-Hodges, the founder and principal of New Roots Charter School, for a post-screening discussion.
As part of enhancing the communal aspect of going to the movies, Donohue said that having the talkback feels like a suitable way to have a conversation with the whole audience about the important topics the film discusses.
“I’m excited to be able to have a conversation with people who are involved in the work of regenerative farming and thinking about food systems, social justice and environmental activism as part of their work,” Donohue said. “I think it’s great that we can have this documentary with lots of famous actors and have that kind of global conversation, but also think about the work that’s being done on the local level around these issues.”
Correction: The original headline for this story gave an incorrect date for the film’s local premiere. It will show next weekend, not this weekend.