My Farmland ( 56mins)

My Farmland explores how Chinese national and Chinese immigrants' investments are affecting traditional Canada’s agricultural sector by following three families: two in tiny farming communities, the other in the wine-making region of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. The film tells a very human story of how communities react to an influx of people from a different culture who hope for a better life by working the land.

With intimate and unique access, the film captures the subjects’ deep emotional journeys in a changing world and the challenges both cultures face in the agriculture business.

My Farmland delves into many sides of this complex, unfolding transition. Is the increase in foreign ownership resulting in xenophobia or racism? Can two very different cultures find common ground and work side by side?

  • Diana Dai
    Director
  • Diana Dai
    Writer
  • Diana Dai
    Producer
  • David Fu
    Key Cast
  • Stuart Lenoard
    Stuart Lenoard
  • Project Type:
    Documentary
  • Runtime:
    56 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    February 1, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    305,279 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    Canada
  • Country of Filming:
    Canada
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    HD and 4K
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Yorkton film festival 2019

    Canada
    Nominated for "Best POV doc" and "Best multcultural doc" for Golden Sheaf Award at 2019 Yorkton film festival
  • Changing face interantional film festival

    Australia
    Best Feb documentary at Changing face international film festival
  • Spotlight international documentary festival 2019

    United States
    Spotlight sliver award at Spotlight intel documentary film festival 2019
  • The Inde Fest Award

    United States
    Inde Fest Award of Merit Special Mention: Documentary Feature Award of Merit Special Mention: Direction, The IndieFEST Film Awards
  • Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
    Toronto
    Canada
    March 15, 2019
    world permiere
  • Ambrosia Food & Drink film festival
    Moscow
    Russian Federation
    December 16, 2019
  • New York Movie Awards-monthly
    New York
    United States
    Finalist
  • Roma Cinema Doc
    Roma
    Italy
  • Under the stars international film festival

    Italy
  • 53 rd WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival
    Houston
    United States
    Platinum Remi award
  • Barnes Film Festival 2020
    London
    United Kingdom
    Finalist
  • Tokyo Lift Off Film Festival
    Tokyo
    Japan
    June 9, 2020
  • Hidden film festival worldwide
    London
    United Kingdom
  • 2020 Universe Multicultural Film Festival (UMFF)
    LA
    United States
    Best Education Film winner
  • Culture&Diversity film festival
    LA
    United States
    October 4, 2020
    best feature documentary
  • Toronto Open world film festival
    Toronto
    Canada
    November 23, 2020
    semi-finalist
  • Washington DC Chinese film festival
    Washington
    United States
    December 14, 2020
  • Tehran international Cinefest
    Tehran
    Iran, Islamic Republic of
Director Biography - Diana Dai

A multi-award winning documentary filmmaker, Diana has received the prestigious Gemini Award and the Golden Sheaf Award for the CBC documentary "China's Earthquake: The People in the Pictures". She has also received several awards in international film festivals. She is the director for a well-acclaimed documentary “My First 150 days”; “China: The Miraculous Transformation” and “SARS: Cover up and Aftermath”; in addition to other documentaries.

The documentaries that Diana directed/produced have aired in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Her documentaries are also collected by many renowned universities and libraries around the world.

Diana was one of the founders for the Mandarin program for OMNI TV in Canada. Diana has taught the "Television" and "Film and Video" courses at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, where she is one of the authors for the textbook "Television in its social context".

Diana obtained a Master's degree in Communication Studies (TV Production) at the University of Leeds in the UK.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Our world is becoming a global village, with an unstoppable flow of people, goods and services across international borders. Canada is no different. Investments made by foreigners and immigrants have become a controversial topic for the locals — especially when they happen in our rural farming communities.

When wealthy Chinese national investors and Chinese immigrants and begin to buy farmland in Canada, it impacts local farmers, who have lived and farmed on their land for generations. Unlike the cities, where people from many different backgrounds are omnipresent, these farming communities are tight-knit, with many relatives living in the same small towns, sharing similar lifestyles.

In recent decades, it was rare for immigrants of ethnic minorities to settle on farms. Now, aspiring farmers are coming from around the world and they bring with them more money to buy land, which challenges the traditional lifestyle in Canadian rural communities. It’s understandable that the locals are afraid; they don’t know these newcomers; they feel that their community is losing its Canadian identity; and typically, with change, comes resistance.

Some provinces have strict limitations on the number of acres that foreign individuals or corporations can own in Canada. Some locals call visible minorities by their ethnic origins like “Chinese” or “Indian”, even though they are Canadian citizens. When immigrants who purchase farmland are labelled as foreign investors, it can create hostile relationships with the locals. The line is blurred when farmland is purchased by an immigrant, who may be financially backed by foreign investors. It’s confusing for locals who don’t understand where the money is really coming from.

I was born and raised in China, and educated both in the U.K. and China. Having lived in Europe and Canada for many years has given me the advantage of understanding both western and eastern cultures. I know how difficult it can be to uproot yourself to start a new life in a country with a different culture and socio-economy. I can also relate to the other perspective: how hard it can be when something or somebody new comes along and your comfort zone is suddenly and irrevocably forced to change.

When I heard about David Fu, a Chinese immigrant farmer who had bought land in small-town Saskatchewan a few years ago, I travelled there to meet his family. In China, farmers cannot own the land they farm. David was thrilled to become a landowner there and the whole family worked hard and enjoyed the fruits of their labours, which David would have never had on his tiny state-owned farm in China. But I also witnessed their struggles; they were having more problems than the local farmers. They were trying hard to prove themselves and to be accepted by the local community.

At the same time, the young local farmers’ livelihoods are being threatened. Investors are increasing the price of land, so much that young farmers like Stuart Leonard are no longer able to purchase it — similar to young families in Canada’s cities who find themselves priced out of the housing market. The only locals who benefit are the retirees who sell their land to foreign investors, often the highest bidders.

A well-known winery at Niagara-on the-Lake, purchased from locals by a Chinese investor was struggling with a high staff turnover rate and was up for sale again. Some locals had mixed feelings about working for a company whose owner is a foreigner from a different culture and living in another country. At the same time, the owner had invested a lot of money to revive the business and was offering jobs to the community.

There are two sides to this story. New people coming to Canada are hoping to have a better life and a successful business while locals want to maintain the status quo of their comfortable lives.

The landscape in Canada is changing, whether we like it or not. Our communities may change; our neighbours may change. And the newcomers, whether foreigner or immigrant, need to make efforts to understand the locals who have lived in their communities for many generations. Through communication, they can work together to form a new harmonious and integrated society.

No man is an island; success does not come easy. We all have common values and goals. I hope people from both cultures strive to understand others’ perspectives; to see the strengths inside each other and to make the best of it.