Troublesome Creek: A Midwestern (1995)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

USA, 1995, Screenplay by , Jeanne Jordan.  Cinematography by Steven Ascher.  Produced by Steven Ascher, Jeanne Jordan.  Music by Production Design by Film Editing by Jeanne Jordan.

grew up on an Iowa farm with her five siblings, under the care of her parents Russel and Mary Jane Jordan, in her childhood living on a farm her family rented before her father inherited property and joined a tradition in his family that went back generations.  By the late nineties, with the changes to the industry of farming and, more important, the changes to the way the banking industry is treating them, the Jordans find themselves fallen on hard times: the farm is saddled with more debt than it can handle, and the elderly couple have decided to get out of the business. Not wanting to lose to foreclosure, the decision they make is to sell everything they own at auction, including their farming equipment and livestock, keep the land and move to a place in town. This heartfelt and sincere documentary follows this experience and gives a close-up view of this process of change, including glimpses into the lives of some of Jordan’s siblings (two of her brothers are farmers at the beginning of the movie, but only one by the end).  The filmmaker is remarkable for how gracefully she films her parents, it’s personal but never intrusive, capturing a moment like her mother shedding a tear during the sale of their livestock with a subtlety that suggests sympathy but not exploitation, relating her own memories of growing up on the farm in tender but never overly sentimental ways. The intention to dispel any myths we all have of farm life as something bucolic and independent is successful, presenting instead the uphill battle of working an industry that becomes less practical as time goes on.

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Documentary Feature

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