Rarely have I written movie reviews, but thanks to Mike Morrell and his Speakeasy book/movie review network, I received the right to view the 2021 crowd-funded movie titled The Ants and the Grasshopper, and I am gladly fulfilling my obligation to provide a public review of it.
Devoid of sensationalism and/or emotionalism, The Ants and the Grasshopper is a nicely crafted, slow moving film that begins and ends in a village in central Malawi. It features two impressive Malawian women, Anita Chitaya, a small farmer and local leader in her village, and Esther Luafua, a doctor and co-founder of a local organization called Soils, Food and Healthy Communities. The two women are primarily interested in working toward slowing climate change, which is adversely affecting their community. That is the main focus of the movie, too—but it is also about working for gender and racial equality and overcoming the gap between the wealthy who have an over-abundance of food and the poor who struggle to have enough to eat.
The film-makers arrange for Chitaya and Luafua to travel to America to talk with farmers and even, they hope, with elected officials in Washington, D.C. Although Anita, especially, has to communicate mainly through a translator, she is not intimidated by the affluent white farmers they meet in Iowa. Even though the people they converse with have organic farms and are advocates of sustainable farming, they show little interest in the problem of global warming. The Malawian women are disappointed in that, but they are more encouraged by the work of the mostly-Black small farmers they meet across the country, such as at the D-Town Farm in Detroit and the Black Dirt Farm Collective in Maryland. They are also able to talk briefly with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) in D.C., but unfortunately, none of that conversation is included in the film.
When they return to their home country, Anita and Esther realize that while they have not been completely successful in seeking to change ideas about climate change in the U.S., at least they have been able to see how the poor can teach the rich, Blacks can teach Whites, and women can teach men.
Here is the link to the official film trailer, and this is the link to the film’s website that includes further links regarding purchasing screening rights and also a study guide for use in churches. The latter is for three, hour-long sessions that call for watching twenty minutes of the film each time. This seems as if it would be a fruitful study for a church group of any size, and I would like to have the opportunity to participate in such a study.
Indeed, there is much we here in the U.S. can and should learn from Anita Chitaya and Esther Luafua, the “poor” African women with the desire and the determination to work on solving the problem of climate change, hunger, and gender/racial inequality. I hope there will be many church groups and secular organizations who will procure the screening rights to this noteworthy film and encourage widespread viewing and discussion of it.