SXSW Film Reviews


D: Monteith McCollum.

Monteith McCollum's festival favorite (it won top documentary awards at SXSW and Slamdance and the FIPRESCI Critics Award at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam) is a quirky biography of 100-year-old Iowa farmer Milford Beeghly. Animated corncobs and other imaginative flourishes highlight this story of hybrid corn seed and Beeghly, its ardent promoter since the 1930s. Beeghly's voiceover commentary (narrated in a dry, nasal tone that sounds not unlike the detached Midwestern drone of William S. Burroughs) frames much of the film. Yet when all is said and done and the farmland vistas have all been viewed and all the corncobs have danced their final mating rituals, Hybrid has elucidated very little about this particular seed salesman and his product. Overlong by at least a half-hour, Hybrid begins repeating itself, especially as it includes commentary from various family members whose memories provide little additional insight. Otherworldly music by McCollum and Chris Sullivan add to strange trappings of this black-and-white documentary, but its ultimate harvest is very down to earth.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
This Job Will Change Your Life
This Job Will Change Your Life
Former staff reflect on the zigs and zags of life post-Chronicle

Sept. 3, 2021

Story of America's itinerant population wanders too much

Feb. 19, 2021

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle