More than two hundred people turned up last night at a vintage cinema in downtown Toronto to share in the world premiere of “MILK WAR”, a fresh new documentary about raw milk in Canada and the Michael Schmidt story.
Now just to be clear, there was an earlier documentary film on the subject that aired a year or two ago on CBC Newsworld. That movie was made by Norman Lofts and it won an award at a local Toronto film festival. It was called “Michael Schmidt, Organic Hero or Bioterrorist”. While that too was a good film, lots more has happened in the raw milk saga since then.
This new movie, Milk War, has been in the making for at least three years and covers a lot more of what’s happened recently.
The first time I met Declan O’Driscoll, one of the film’s auteurs, was at the fundraising concert in downtown Toronto with a chamber ensemble from the Kitchener Symphony in late 2006. That was the kickoff of the effort to raise $100,000 to hire Clayton Ruby to take the case in defense of Glencolton Farms and raw milk. But the footage from that evening must have ended up on the cutting room floor because we didn’t see any of it in the movie.
Typically, your one hour documentary will limit itself in scope to illustrating a few key points about whatever issue is being addressed. Milk War, on the other hand, dug deep and presented perhaps the most complete picture yet of the raw milk story around Michael Schmidt and Glencolton Farms.
Starting with Michael’s childhood growing up in the aftermath of Germany’s Nazi years, we hear how he was sensitized to the possibility of governments “going rogue” and to the responsibility of citizens to do something, to take action, before it is too late.
Fast forwarding to today, Michael sees, perhaps more clearly than most, that the greatest challenge to the freedom and liberty we cherish and that our forefathers fought for, is coming not from terrorists or outsiders, but from an unaccountable proliferation of regulations that looks, from the outside, like bureaucrats on a power trip. That’s why Michael is taking his fight into the political arena — but that’s beyond the scope of even this film.
Milk War gives more than a token voice to the views of conventional dairy farmers and regulators. The conventional farmer interviewed comes across as a sensible and modern businessman but as someone who still cares for his animals — all 500 of them. The issue of quota is addressed and Michael re-iterates on camera, his willingness to work with the system and talks about the many overtures he’s made to try to achieve rapprochement with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario and with the Ontario government.
Michael’s bio-dynamic farming practices are discussed in the film as well, in a matter of fact way, and not as if they are some scary voodoo.
There are interviews with the one person in Ontario who has come down with E-coli in recent years that was blamed on raw milk. He says on camera that he’s pretty sure it was from a fast food hamburger that he ate in deviation from his usual all organic all healthy diet. His whole family drank the milk and he was the only one who got sick. And the man (not Michael) who was charged with selling him that milk was interviewed in the film as well. Folks, this is material that the mainstream media has yet to penetrate. This movie deserves an “I” for investigative journalism!
Cowshare members also got a chance to share their views, both on the blue bus and in their homes. We see clearly that Michael Schmidt is fulfilling a real need and desire people have for this kind of milk.
The film ends with the triumphal January 2010 acquittal of Michael Schmidt on all 19 charges related to raw milk. Of course, in reality, the raw milk saga of Michael Schmidt is far from over, but it seems a logical breakpoint for ending the movie.
Now, if you missed yesterday’s premiere and would like to see the movie, it’ll be airing on the 26th of September on ichannel. Call your cable company and subscribe. I hear it’s only a couple dollars a month. That seems like a bargain for TV programming of this calibre!