In a pair of acclaimed documentaries, local filmmaker Micha X. Peled tracked globalization's footprints from a big-box store in Virginia (Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town) to a blue jeans factory in Shichuan (China Blue). In his revealing new film, Bitter Seeds, Peled follows the thread to the cotton-growing region of India, where small farmers grow the raw material that's exported, dyed, sewn, and stitched into America's favorite weekend wear. For centuries, farmers were able to make a living and afford to arrange a decent match for their daughters, but in the last decade that stability has disappeared.
The film convincingly argues that the blame lies in the widespread transition to genetically modified and supposedly pest-resistant seeds marketed by a subsidiary of Monsanto. The company's spokesman dodges responsibility, but he can't deny the epidemic of farmer suicides triggered by shame and poverty.
Bitter Seeds insinuates us into the lives of one family, with the counterpoint of an aspiring young journalist who lost her own father to suicide and who sets about researching and reporting the story for a local newspaper. U.S. farmers, lest we forget, are not immune from the effects of Monsanto's "innovative" products.
Bitter Seeds begins at 7 and 9:15 p.m. (runs through Oct. 11) at the Roxie, 3117 16th St. (at Valencia), S.F. Admission is $6.50-$10.