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Follow the Drinking Gourd

FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD is a feature documentary about the Black food justice movement. Family-friendly, funny and moving, this 60-minute film connects the legacy of slavery, capitalism and climate change to our fight for food security.
* Leah Penniman - author of "Farming While Black"
* Naima Penniman - of the award-winning, spoken word duo, Climbing Poetree, recently featured on TED
* Wanda Stewart - urban farmer in Berkeley, CA
* Will Scott - rural farmer in Fresno, CA
* Carl Anthony - environmentalist, founder of Urban Habitat
* Rahanna Bisseret-Martinez - former Top Chef Junior finalist

  • Shirah Dedman
  • Dennis Terry
  • Anka Karewicz
  • Shirah Dedman
  • Wanda Stewart
    Key Cast
  • Chanowk Yisrael
    Key Cast
  • Will Scott
    Key Cast
    TEDx: Fruitvale
  • Leah Penniman
    Key Cast
  • Naima Penniman
    Key Cast
  • stic.man
    Key Cast
    dead prez
  • Rahanna Bisseret-Martinez
    Key Cast
    Top Chef Junior
  • Carl Anthony
    Key Cast
    A Lot In Common
  • Anka Karewicz
  • Shirah Dedman
  • Dan Stromberg
    Motion Graphics
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Comedy, Drama
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 37 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 1, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Shirah Dedman

Filmmaker, journalist, attorney, and activist creating content at the intersection of economics, race and the environment. Her short film on the displacement of Black Oakland, YOU A NOMAD, broadcasted on Free Speech TV. Shirah is a 2018-2019 Associate of the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley and of the Equal Justice Initiative. She’s a member of KPFA Radio’s Local Station Board, and the Programming Committee of its parent organization, Pacifica Foundation. Passionate about cooperative action, she's a member of Liberated Lens, a horizontally-run, intersectional, social justice film collective.
The journey to making FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD changed, changed the course of her life. Shirah's now pursuing her Master of Laws in Agriculture & Food Law at the University of Arkansas Law School.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Earlier this year, while discussing the climate crisis at the Earth Activist Training Permaculture Design Certificate intensive, it struck me that I had to finish the documentary now titled "Follow the Drinking Gourd." Originally from Los Angeles, it's what had brought me to Oakland four years ago after a treatment I'd written on a food justice documentary had made it to the final round of the PGA’s Diversity Producers Workshop. Having been radicalized around the personal power of gaining connection with our food, I wanted to watch a documentary that showed faces that looked like mine, but it was hard to find. And the ones that were out there didn't delve into the larger issues of the intersection of the climate catastrophe, race, health, trauma and our dysfunctional food systems.
So when I met Liberated Lens, an amazing team of filmmaker/food activists already working on a documentary addressing the same subject, I gladly joined their effort. I was introduced to producers Dennis Terry, a co-founder of Mandela Grocery Cooperative and volunteer with Farms to Grow, and Anka Karewicz, a devout volunteer for Food Not Bombs. The project languished for a while when key members of the film collective relocated. Constantly feeling driven to revive it, and leaning on the permaculture principle of "use what you got," I forged ahead on piecing together the narrative from our collective footage and we shot additional footage to round out the story. As someone who's passionate about community education, I know that during this time of climate and health emergencies, this film is more than timely -- it's crucial.