Skip to content

SEED: The Untold Story


Friday, May 13, 2016 - 6:30pm
Screening Partner
Hospitality Partner

SEED: The Untold Story

Jon Betz and Taggart Siegel | 
 2016 | 
91 minutes


If you’ve ever planted a bean or tomato seed and hovered over the small green life forms as they emerge from the soil, then you already know, as Jane Goodall remarks in the film, “That seeds are magic.” Living embryos, tiny time capsules, messages from our ancestors; seeds are pure life force. This lovingly crafted film, directed by Jon Betz and Taggart Siegel, is filled with a reverence for the commonplace magic of seeds in all their glorious genetic range. The film also explores how this diversity, like many other aspects of life on planet earth, is profoundly threatened by the mechanisms of unfettered capitalism. Monetized, hybridized, and, most critically, trademarked and patented by large corporations, the genetic variance of our most common food crops is critically threatened. By one estimate, North America lost 94% of common vegetable seed varieties within the 20th century alone. Whereas we once had hundreds of different varieties, commercially produced food-crops now number in the single digits. This has terrifying implications for life, and food, in a rapidly changing climate. From the Green Revolution of modern industrialized agriculture in the mid-20th century, to the Indian farmers of recent years trapped into buying trademarked seeds every year and driven to suicide, we’ve collectively lost an enormous amount in a very short period of time. But all is not lost! Arrayed against the seemingly unstoppable forces of Monsanto and Dow Chemicals is an army of dedicated seedsavers, independent farmers, community seed-bank organizers, food activists, academics, and a wide range of all-round really good humans who are dedicating enormous amounts of time, energy, and passion to fighting the good food fight. -AW


Taggart Siegel

Taggart Siegel has produced and directed Emmy-nominated, award-winning documentaries including QUEEN OF THE SUN: What are the Bees Telling Us? and THE REAL DIRT ON FARMER JOHN (ITVS, Independent Lens). These films received critical-acclaim during their theatrical release and garnered over 40 international awards. His previous PBS films include: SPLIT HORN, (ITVS, Independent Lens), BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, BLUE COLLAR AND BUDDHA and HEART BROKEN IN HALF. Collectively, they capture the struggle of refugees and immigrants in America. He produced the National Geographic film DISENCHANTED FOREST about orangutans in Borneo and was the director of SHADOW OF A PEPPER TREE. Taggart is the founder and Executive Director of Collective Eye Films, a non-profit media production and distribution organization based in Portland, Oregon.


Jon Betz

Jon Betz is an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker. He is the co-director and co-producer of SEED: The Untold Story (World Premiere, EFF 2016) and the producer and editor for QUEEN OF THE SUN: What Are the Bees Telling Us? (2010). QUEEN OF THE SUN was critically- acclaimed during it’s U.S. theatrical release and heralded by The New York Times as “Revelatory! A Critic’s Pick” His previous film, MEMORIZE YOU SAW IT (2008) journals his experience as an aid worker living with former-child soldiers in Eastern Uganda. Betz is a graduate from Rhode Island School of Design, and is currently the director of Collective Eye Films, a non-profit media production and distribution organization based in Portland, Oregon.

Justice Forum Panelist

Meeru Dhalwala

Meeru is an author, chef and the co-owner of Vij's, which has been hailed by the New York Times as “easily among the finest Indian restaurants in the world.” Meeru’s particular focus is to forge relationships with other local businesses, and farmers in particular.   She is committed to improving her business environmental footprint, most notably through her choices in produce, seafood and meats.  She sits on the board of directors for Vancouver Farmers Markets and has developed close, professional relationships with many BC farmers. In addition, she works closely with staff at UBC Land and Food Systems and with UBC Farm on various fundraising initiatives, including the annual international food fair called “Joy of Feeding” that is held every summer in Vancouver. See her full bio here