The story

Benevolence tells the story of the farm’s development and follows the journey of the first group of residents as they embark on twelve months of living and working together in community. The film also tracks the changing seasonal landscape during fall, winter and spring as the women learn to farm, harvest, pack and sell their produce, put the land to rest for the winter and prepare for new growth in the spring. We cannot predict what will happen along the women’s journey and therefore are engaging in an open filming approach rather than a strong directorial hand bent on creating drama. There is enough inherent drama that will unfold in the situation itself — bringing individuals who have never met together to live and work in a tight-knit group. Will these women find camaraderie with one another? Will they collaborate, learn from each other’s successes and failures, share their challenges openly and seek support and strength from the group? Or will the strain of such a big life shift from prison to farm result in programmatic failure as individuals drop out and conflicts arise between remaining participants? Our filming strategy will be to pay attention to the small details of the women’s daily lives on the Farm, to watch for little emotional moments and subtle signs of personal and character development. This narrative strand focuses intimately on the women, quietly recording their day-to-day interactions with each other and the staff. Through intimate verite filming, we follow these women on their difficult journey to renewed independence, confidence and self-worth as they learn employment and relationship skills and relearn what it means to live life on the outside.

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