Dirt! The living skin of the earth

The Encounters 12th International Documentary Festival is running in South Africa from 12 to 29 August 2010. A highlight on the programme is the green documentary called Dirt! The Movie - an astonishing, humorous and substantial look at the glorious and unappreciated ground beneath our feet.

Narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis, Dirt! The Movie tells the story of humans trying to re-connect to dirt (or soil),  the living skin of the earth. Travelling from the vineyards of California to the plains of Kenya, Dirt! reveals how repairing our relationship with dirt can create new possibilities for all life on earth.

Dirt feeds us and gives us shelter. Dirt holds and cleans our water. Dirt heals us and makes us beautiful. It even gives our wines their distinctive tastes if experts are to be believed. Dirt also regulates the earth’s climate. Why do we humans ignore, abuse, and destroy our most precious living natural resource? Consider the results of such behaviour: Mass starvation, drought, floods and global warming.

Directed by Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow (USA, 2009) the movie refers to dirt or soil as the “living, breathing skin” of the Earth. It traces the formation of “dirt” over the millennia, how it has shaped us (at every burial we are reminded that we are dust) and how it features in many cultures’ folktales. Its humorous and engaging tone makes more palatable the caveat that, even in our deceptively environmentally-conscious world, this common or garden stuff matters as much as the air that we breathe. It also gives examples of diverse, exciting and innovative projects where people are getting their hands dirty - and enjoying it.

According to the UN, the global population is expected to increase to 9 billion over the next 40 years and that population is at the centre of the debate about issues around climate change, water resources and the destruction of biodiversity. Food security is intrinsically linked to farming practice and the preservation of soil, and it is an issue that affects every human being.

Watch the special Woolworths-sponsored screenings of Dirt! The Movie on 15 and 29 August in Cape Town at the V&A Nu Metro and on 21 August at the Bioscope Cinema in Johannesburg.

For more information visit Encounters Green movies or Dirt! The Movie’s official website.


Two sets of tickets are up for grabs for the Cape Town (15 August) and Johannesburg (21 August) screening of Dirt! The Movie.

To enter our competition, simply become a fan of Health24's page on Facebook and share an environmental tip in the comment box below. (Remember to indicate which city's screening you would like to attend.)

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