A collective of Maine dairymen form a start-up to get their milk into local shops, but find peace and prosperity elusive in lyrically rendered agribusiness docu “Betting the Farm.” In the compassionate spirit of docu “Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern,” which won jury and aud prizes at Sundance in 1996, SilverDocs’ world preem of the first docu feature from helmers Cecily Pingree and brother-in-law Jason Mann signals an updated spin on the plight of the American farmer that will be in demand for fests, social justice groups and ancillary.
Pic focuses on three of eight homesteaders struggling to bring their product, Maine’s Own Organic (MOO) to market — blustery Richard Lary, weary Vaughn Chase and idealistic Aaron Bell. Various snafus delay the debut, with CEO Bill Eldridge warning payouts will be late. Resulting economic strife and subsequent soul-searching tests mettle in varying ways. Pingree’s camera is unflappably cool, abetted by a spacy roots score. The helmers have connections to biz and politics: Mann is grandson of late “Marty” director and former DGA prez Delbert Mann; sister-in-law Pingree’s mother Chellie is a prominent Maine Democrat and former prez and CEO of Common Cause.