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‘Kiss the Ground’ Soil Documentary in the Works

Big Picture Ranch and Benenson Productions are teaming up on “Kiss the Ground” to chronicle the movement to bring back healthy soil, Variety has learned exclusively.

Big Picture Ranch has credits on “Fuel,” “The Big Fix” and “Pump” while Benenson produced “Dirt! The Movie” and “The Hadza: Last of the First.”

“Kiss the Ground” will be produced by Josh Tickell, Rebecca Harrell Tickell and Bill Benenson, who was an early investor and an exec producer on Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation.”

Josh and Rebecca Tickell are directing. Laurie Benenson, Anna Getty and Michelle Lerach exec produce.

The film is inspired by a collaboration with the California-based nonprofit organization Kiss the Ground, a champion for regenerative living and the restoration of soil worldwide. The documentary will look at how soil – and the microbial universe that it houses – is the foundation for all life above ground.

The film also looks at soil’s role in combating drought, especially in California and Australia, where desertification threatens critical food production.

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“This feature-length documentary will delve into the lives of passionate scientists, farmers, ranchers, activists and policymakers who are on the front lines of the battle to save the world’s soils,” said Josh Tickell. “It’s through their eyes and daily struggles that the audience will experience the passion, commitment and hope generated by a solution that is at once so complex and so simple –– a solution that has eluded us because it is in a place nobody thought to look –– right under our feet.”

Benenson noted that his production company previously explored similar issues in “Dirt! The Movie.” “The degradation of the planet’s soil is the challenge of our lifetimes, and we’re thrilled to partner with the superb documentarians Josh and Rebecca Tickell,” he added.

The restorative soil movement contends that regenerative agricultural practices that store excess carbon in the soil have the potential to cool the planet and feed the world and that healthy soil means we can feed the world’s growing population with sustained higher yields and more nutritious food. It also explores the potential for alternative fuels globally.

“Fuel” won the audience award for best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival and was shortlisted for an Oscar. “The Big Fix,” which delved into the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, premiered as the only American documentary in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and was awarded first place at the Turin Environmental Film Festival.

Big Picture Ranch plans to premiere “Good Fortune,” which centers on philanthropist John Paul Dejoria, later this year.

Benenson is currently working on a documentary about his recent archaeological expedition in the Mosquitia jungle of Honduras which resulted in the discovery of a lost pre-Columbian city. Benenson’s feature films include “Boulevard Nights,” “The Lightship,” “A Walk on the Moon,” “Mister Johnson” and “Who Bombed Judi Bari?”

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