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Groundwork (Original)

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Film Identifier: F.2011-01-0171
Run Time
0h 20m 49s
Date Produced
circa 1975
A poetic tribute to the establishment of the maple farm in Monterey, MA, owned and operated by JoAnn Elam's friend Bonner McAllester and her husband Joe Baker. Elam and McAllester were close friends since their time at Antioch College together, and Elam would return to the farm and make films many times through the 1980s. Using double exposure and occasional rapid editing, this film follows McAllester, Baker, and a group of friends as they live in the teepee first built on the property, dig the foundation for a more permanent structure, harvest and prepare their crops, and build a new wooden structure on top of the dug-out foundation. Elam films the workers with a focus on their bodies and hands, emphasizing the tactility of their labor, but at other times also foregrounds the ethereal quality of their natural surroundings.

The film cuts to black approximately halfway through and then repeats the same sequence of events as the previous half, suggesting the two were meant to be separated and projected side by side simultaneously. Two separate prints of the two halves – "Groundwork" (F.2011-01-0146) and "Groundwork / Backyard 2" (F.2011-01-0145) – were likely made for this purpose.
Main Credits
Elam, JoAnn (is filmmaker)
Actors, Performers and Participants
McAllester, Bonner (is participant)
Baker, Joe (is participant)
Related Place
Monterey (production location of)