Sink your teeth into Six Prim­rose at Devour! film fest

John Hil­lis’ doc­u­men­tary about the im­pact of the Dart­mouth North Com­mu­nity Food Cen­tre de­buts this week­end at Devour.


World pre­miere of Six Prim­rose Devour! A Food Film Fes­ti­val Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 26, 3pm Al Whit­tle Theatre, 450 Main Street Wolfville, NS $15, de­vour­


Prim­rose, a doc­u­men­tary about hu­man con­nec­tion at the Dart­mouth North Com­mu­nity Food Cen­tre, pre­mieres this week­end at Devour! The Food Film Fest. The film be­gins with a quote from French philoso­pher Pierre Teil­hard de Chardin: “To think, we must eat.”

“If we want peo­ple ful­fill­ing their po­ten­tial, one of the things we need to do is en­sure they have a healthy diet,” direc­tor and lo­cal film­maker John Hil­lis ex­plains. “In or­der to do that, they have to be able to af­ford it.”

The doc­u­men­tary fol­lows five in­di­vid­u­als who have been af­fected by the com­mu­nity food cen­tre since it opened three years ago, in­clud­ing a new Cana­dian from Syria and a sin­gle mother of four en­rolled in com­mu­nity col­lege. Hil­lis chron­i­cles their lives as they re­flect on food, friend­ship and com­mu­nity. To­gether, their sto­ries snap into place like puzzle pieces, cre­at­ing a vi­brant, mul­ti­fac­eted im­age of the Cen­tre.

“This is an en­vi­ron­ment that de­fines you by your strengths,” Hil­lis says. “They don’t look at the is­sues in your life, they look at how you can par­tic­i­pate. It gives peo­ple an op­por­tu­nity to thrive, in­stead of just strug­gling to sur­vive. These are per­sonal sto­ries of peo­ple who are fac­ing chal­lenges and em­brac­ing them. I think that’s some­thing in­spir­ing that should be cel­e­brated.”

With a 20,000 square foot ur­ban farm and an in­dus­trial kitchen, the com­mu­nity food cen­tre en­cour­ages peo­ple to grow, cook, buy and share healthy food. In part­ner­ship with the Com­mu­nity Food Cen­tres Canada, the Dart­mouth North Com­mu­nity Food Cen­tre pro­vides lo­cal res­i­dents with free pro­grams, such as classes in gar­den­ing, cook­ing and fit­ness.

“Six Prim­rose is an in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity for this com­mu­nity to tell its own story—to share its strengths and its hopes and dreams,” says Car­alee McDaniel, act­ing ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor for Dart­mouth North Com­mu­nity Food Cen­tre.

By of­fer­ing a place where peo­ple can pri­or­i­tize their well-be­ing, the com­mu­nity food cen­tre ad­dresses sys­temic prob­lems that many lo­cal res­i­dents face ev­ery­day. While film­ing, Hil­lis learned that one in eight house­holds in Canada suf­fers from food in­se­cu­rity, mean­ing that more than four mil­lion peo­ple strug­gle to put food on the ta­ble.

“Food in­se­cu­rity has so­lu­tions,” Hil­lis says. “We have enough food in Canada. This is an is­sue that has to do with in­come, min­i­mum wage and so­cial as­sis­tance.”

Three years ago, Hil­lis and his part­ner Han­nah Min­zloff col­lab­o­rated with Dart­mouth North Com­mu­nity Food Cen­tre to cre­ate pro­mo­tional and fundrais­ing con­tent, which was when they dis­cov­ered the pos­i­tive im­pact the cen­tre was hav­ing on the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

Want­ing to tell the cen­tre’s story through those who ben­e­fit from its ex­is­tence, Hil­lis started talk­ing to peo­ple at weekly meals and drop-in events, form­ing con­nec­tions and lis­ten­ing to their sto­ries. He gath­ered more than 100 hours of footage, craft­ing it into a nar­ra­tive that he hopes will en­gage view­ers and ac­cu­rately de­pict life at the com­mu­nity food cen­tre.

“Over the course of the year, I re­al­ized what was tak­ing place there,” says Hil­lis.“I would say there were at least 50 days of shoot­ing, but it never felt like work and I al­ways left in a bet­ter mood. I hope view­ers see what can be achieved when peo­ple are treated with a strengths-based ap­proach. Where are peo­ple at in their lives? What do peo­ple have to of­fer? Let’s start with that.”

Named af­ter the com­mu­nity food cen­tre’s ad­dress, Six Prim­rose chron­i­cles the re­silience and strength of Dart­mouth North res­i­dents from seed, to har­vest, to meal­time. Af­ter Fri­day’s pre­miere, Hil­lis will par­tic­i­pate in a panel with the film’s sub­jects and the CEO of Com­mu­nity Food Cen­tres Canada.

(Left) Plat­ing a scrump­tious meal for the Com­mu­nity Lunch. (Right) Film­maker John Hil­lis.

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