Sunday, April 18, 2010


By D.E.Levine

Directors: Bill Benenson and Gene Roscow
Co-Director: Eleonore Dailly
Writers: Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow (documentary); Bill Logan (book: Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth)
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Paul Starnets, Gary Vaynerchuk, Vadana Shiva, Miguel Allen, Wangari Maathai, Carlo Petrini, Pierre Rabhi, Andy Lipkis, Fritjof Capra, Jeanette Armstrong, Marisha Farnsworth, Kevin Rowell, Fr. James Suntum, Fr. Casimiro Roca, David Orr, Richard Regester, Wes Jackson, Janine Benyus, Jerry Glover, Jeremy Narby, Juan Vincent Sanchez, Sabastiao Salgado, Leila Salgado, Majora Carter, Peter Girguis, Helen White, Lottie Manuel, Hilda Krus, James Jiler, Edward Pagan, Pablo Roian, Barbara Damrosch, Wes Kinney, Will Brinton, Alice Founders, Sharon Jackson, Juan Mighty, John Cannizo, Jerry Glover, Katrine Hawkins, Sharon Jackson, Cricket Leigh, Bill Logan and Francesca Mazzola
Producers: Bill Benenson, Eleonore Dailly and Gene Rosow
Executive Producer: Laurie Benenson
Associate Producers: Tracy K. Brown, Christine Deitner, Tyler Harbour and Marisa Murgatroyd
Original Music: Jorge Corante
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Genre: Documentary

Earth Week will be celebrated April 19-24. In keeping with the spirit, PBS selected an interesting, informative and sometimes humorous documentary that presents an in-depth look at the Earth's skin of dirt - alive and made from exactly the same elements that people, stars, plants and animals are made from. For exact times check for local listings of when the film will be shown.

Dirt! The Movie premiered at Sundance 2009 and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. Since then it has been gaining followers and momentum throughout the world as it takes a substantial and sometimes humorous look at the living skin of the planet Earth.

Dirt! The Movie is a very important and impressive exploration of dirt as the living skin of the earth. This film should be shown in every school throughout the world. It has the potential of changing the way young people think about their life on planet Earth and what they do in the future to restore balance to the planet.

It couldn't hurt if the film is viewed by all adults living on the planet too since it points out all the things they've done wrong in relation to the earth and then explores the steps necessary to start doing things right.

It's no secret that man is rapidly destroying the earth by depleting its dirt of minerals and organisms necessary to sustain life. Dirt is presented as a living, breathing skin that has the ability to feed and nurture us, clean and hold water necessary for life, regulate the earth's climate and even heal us.

In case you think I'm exaggerating, you need to watch this film. It's very clear and presented simply so viewers of all ages can understand its message.

Dirt or soil has environmental, social, political and economic impact. It's extremely thought-provoking. While presenting some gloomy stories of monoculture farming, strip mining and other human profit-making activities, the film grows more optimistic as it presents interviews and stories about successful green businesses and farming.

The most convincing proof is that this film isn't simply theoretical but consists of interviews worldwide with a broad cross-section of people who range from organic farmers and composters to Nobel prize winners; from ecological activists to entomologist, agroecologists, anthropologists and educators.

It all began like a fairy tale because once upon a time there was a noted natural history writer and environmental columnist named Bill Logan. He wrote about gardening for a lot of well-known publications including The New York Times and The Whole Earth Review, founded an organization known as Urban Arborists to care for trees in New York City, and wrote a book called Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth."

When directors/producers/writers Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow read Bill Logan's book they decided it was worthy of being turned into a movie so it's message of saving the earth through understanding the importance of dirt and how to live with it could be spread to an even greater audience.

The resulting film, narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis, explores the earth and dirt since the beginning of the formation of the planet, through natural and man-made disasters, up to the present.

It's timely because now there's an awakening of thought and the realization of the necessity to find alternate energy forms and replenish the earth where it's been decimated,

The filmmakers travel the globe to interview activists, scientist and individuals who are involved first hand in replenishing and saving the earth.

Never underestimate the power of dirt. This film points out how much the average person doesn't know about it and how that lack of knowledge results in literally destroying the planet.

Some of the information is historically informative, i.e. how many people know that "Adam" in the Bible means "clay" and "Eve" means "life"? Remember, Eve was made from Adam so essentially we're being told that life came from clay or dirt. That supports the premise of the entire film.

Fortunately, despite our negligence and greed there are ways to save the dirt and replenish it, but the process has to begin immediately because man has already done incalculable damage.

As voice after voice is raised in praise of dirt and it's life-giving abilities, the audience sees that steps like replacing a concrete schoolyard with one of dirt can not only replenish the dirt but also the spirit and minds of the schoolchildren.

Additionally, there are lessons of planting and composting, as well as growing edible food, that can be taught to children early in life.

There's a message here that working with dirt, saving our planet, can have profound positive psychological and emotional effects on the participants.

In the film we even see how prisoners can be rehabilitated and trained for a future (once released) in green jobs.

There's a central theme that is reiterated - basically that man and dirt have a symbiotic relationship and if we take from the earth we need to replenish the dirt so that the mutually beneficial relationship can continue.

While the film will be shown on PBS for Earth Day, it's well worth owning and a longer DVD that includes extended animation and interviews, bonus scenes, biographies of the filmmakers and the theatrical trailer is available for purchase at

An added benefit to visiting the movie's website is that just like dirt itself, the site is ongoing and full of additional information giving viewers the ability to sign up for updates and keep up-to-date on the latest legislation.

Clicking on the rotating banner "Show Us Your Garden" takes viewers to a Facebook page full of pictures and stories that were submitted for National Garden Month.

From the stories and photos submitted viewers can see that all over the world people are going green, planting and raising their gardens, replenishing the earth, reactivating the dirt and planning for a more ecological future and a more sustainable Earth.