PIFF 2021: Kiss The Ground – Review

Release Date – 22nd September 2020, Cert – PG, Run-time – 1 hour 25 minutes, Directors – Joshua Tickell, Rebecca Harrell Tickell

Documentary looking into how agriculture and the Earth’s soil can help combat climate change.

Aside from planting more trees and expanding home-grown produce Kiss The Ground turns and takes a look at how humanity can work in “cooperation with nature” to reverse the effects of climate change, or at least combat them. Throughout we meet a number of farmers, activists, politicians and even some celebrities – David and Patricia Arquette make a brief appearance, and Woody Harrelson narrates; even Roasrio Dawson gets an odd interviewer role, which feels somewhat out of place, at the end of the film – who are all pushing the idea that perhaps the way we treat soil could be improved for the both the better of produce and the planet as a whole. Getting across their messages in speeches, meetings, interviews and, of course, the occasional diagram, the viewer followers a handful of figures as they explain to others, and the viewer, the urgency of their cause and how the more people who help out the better the chances are for the future.

It does feel, especially when looking at a handful of the speeches and gatherings, that the film knows its target audience. As the discussion of regenerative agriculture increases it feels as if it’s speaking more to an audience with farming experience than the more casual viewer, items and examples shown and demonstrated in front of fellow members of the industry. The episodic nature of ‘this is what we’ve done, this is what we can do/ are going to do’ does also create a slight shift in engagement for the viewer, slightly escaping from the film in the second half as it doesn’t quite become repetitive but appears to further ground itself in a presumed target audience. However, there is still content there for those outside of the farming content. A look into waste reduction in San Francisco feels slightly closer to home and perhaps has a better degree of connection for some members of the audience.

There’s certainly passion on display and that helps keep those outside of the industry involved in the film, with it’s message that says “we want to mentor and inspire people”. This particularly comes across in the words of speaker and activist Roy Archuleta – a Conservation Agronomist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service – who perhaps makes one of the biggest impacts of the short 85 minute course of the film. We spend a fair deal of time with him at the start, and even at the end, as he speaks passionately about the cause that he has dedicated himself to, in the hope of changing lives and the world for the better. It’s points such as this that help to carry those outside of the farming industry through the elements that seem to lean more towards such people as a target audience, which is no bad thing, especially when taking into consideration a large proportion of the subject matter. However, there is still content outside of soil that manages to keep the interest and engagement of more casual viewers to show a communal fight against climate change that film, and it’s participants, attempt to encourage.

Kiss The Ground certainly knows it’s target audience, which is no bad thing. There’s still content there for more casual viewers, and those outside the farming industry, enough to keep them engaged and interested throughout the slightly episodic course.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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