“During the eight years Declan O’Driscoll lived in Nelson, his Yggdrasil theatre company toured West Kootenay with plays based on the mythology of the Valhalla mountains and classics such as The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.
But when O’Driscoll returns to the city February 11, he’ll be showcasing a work that’s all about contemporary concerns.
On November 21, 2006, 20 armed officers stormed a small dairy farm north of Toronto and arrested owner Michael Schmidt (seen in photo above). His crime? Selling unpasteurized, “raw” milk.
O’Driscoll was on the scene within a day, shooting what would eventually become the documentary film Milk War, which kicks off this year’s Canadian FLIKS Festival.
“My mother actually got milk from him for years, so she told me that he was just arrested and his farm was raided,” explains O’Driscoll. “So I just picked up the camera and started shooting.”
Selling unpasteurized milk has been illegal in Ontario since 1938, when about 800 people fell ill after drinking milk from cows with tuberculosis. Since 1991 it’s been federal law as well.
But as O’Driscoll followed Schmidt’s four-year court case he began to see how raw-milk laws were, as he puts it, “catering to the lowest common denominator.”
While he’s not sure he’d want to buy unpasteurized milk at a supermarket, he points out that none of Schmidt’s customers ever got sick because of his milk in the farm’s 20 years of operation. And he’s sympathetic to Schmidt’s belief that his customers should be allowed to eat what they want, even if there are risks involved.
“It raises some serious questions about where government might be overstepping the rights of people,” he says….”
Of course there’s also the Vancouver screening on February 6th: