A photo of Wendell Berry and his son | Courtesy of “Look & See”

Last year, Insider caught up with Laura Dunn, director of the Wendell Berry documentary “Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry,” before her film screened at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.

With co-producers like Robert Redford, Terrence Malick and our own Gill Holland, the film is a love letter of sorts from Kentucky to the world — alerting people to the changing landscapes and shifting values of rural America.

Now, Louisvillians will have a free chance to see the film on Wednesday, April 18, as it screens at the Filson Historical Society before it airs nationally on PBS and locally on KET the following week. There will be a discussion following the film with Berry’s daughter, Mary Berry, which will be moderated by Holland.

The 83-year-old poet laureate only appears in the film in photographs, although he provides the voice-over by reading from his more than 40 works of poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Dunn told us that was intentional, as Berry wasn’t interested much in being on film. Instead, she said, the focus is on his Henry County community.

“He said to me once, ‘I am nothing but for the people on the land, the people who are my neighbors and my family and my place,’ ” said Dunn. “He is his place. He doesn’t like the idolatry of famous figures. It’s not about the person, it’s about the community and the membership.”

Although the film also examines the dying farms and poverty in rural America, there is the idea of hope and rising above new challenges that is woven throughout.

“Wendell is adamant about cultivating hope,” Dunn said. “He’s looking at this and saying, ‘You can’t just sit around and cry. You’ve got to give the people hope.’ You kind of have to look at both viewpoints: Yes, in a larger context, it is terrifying. But if you look on a small, local scale, there are enormous signs of hope.”

“Look & See” will be shown at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18, at the Filson Historical Society, 1310 S. Third St. The event is free, but reservations are required.

The film will air on KET on Monday, April 23, at 10 p.m., and on KET2 on Monday, April 30, at 9 p.m.

Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville. She's known around town as the Bar Belle and updates her blog (barbelleblog.com) daily. She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."


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