Gather

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Gather Movie Poster Image
Docu on food sovereignty has positive messages, role models.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 74 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Promotes food sovereignty and sustainability, as traditionally practiced by Native Americans. How these efforts at sustainability benefit the environment. How activism in these endeavors helps to fight for indigenous peoples throughout the world. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

People profiled in this documentary, from different Native American tribes across the continent, reveal through their food activism a desire to create food sovereignty on the lands where they live, in hopes of returning to the traditional ways of fishing, foraging, and preparing foods. 

Violence

Discussion of European colonists' genocidal practices against Native Americans over course of centuries. Archival news footage shows violent altercations between federal officers trying to stop Native Americans from fishing on their lands. 

Sex
Language

"S--tload" used once. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Talk of drug addiction and alcoholism among residents of Native American reservations. Individuals profiled in the documentary discuss their own struggles with drugs and alcohol. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gather is a 2020 documentary about Native Americans practicing food sovereignty to reclaim their land, health, and traditions. Archival news footage shows violent altercations between Native Americans trying to fish on their land and federal agents trying to stop them. There's discussion of European colonials and the U.S. government's genocidal policies against Native Americans, as well as talk of drug addiction and alcoholism on reservations, and stories from some of those profiled in this documentary of their own struggles with drugs and alcohol. "S--tload" is used once. This documentary is filled with positive messages of a "restorative revolution" and how individual Native Americans of all ages are using their skills in foraging, cooking, and scientific research to show how the traditional Native American methods of food harvesting and preparation offer numerous benefits for individuals, communities, the environment, and humanity as a whole. 

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What's the story?

GATHER is a documentary on Native Americans who are bringing back food sovereignty on their lands. It shows how this "restorative revolution" has the potential to transform reservations from "food deserts," where the only food available is the junk food in gas stations and mini marts, to communities that draw on traditional methods of farming, foraging, fishing, and hunting to provide sustainability for the land and nature, as well as the improved health of those who return to their ancestral customs. A teen girl uses her aptitude for scientific research to show how buffalo meat is much healthier than livestock. A chef teaches how locally sourced food can restore health to a struggling community and connect Native Americans to their history and traditions as a way to combat the continued oppressions of colonialism. A group of young Native American activists work to save the Klamath River and fight for indigenous people around the world. The documentary shows how food sovereignty continues to grow in popularity, and how it can help to save a world lurching toward environmental catastrophe. 

Is it any good?

This is a thought-provoking documentary that offers a glimmer of hope for positive change, not only for indigenous people, but also for a world seemingly on the brink of environmental catastrophe. Through interviews with Native Americans of all ages and different tribes, Gather takes a look at the potential for food sovereignty to transform communities, provide locally sourced food for regions that have become "food deserts" of gas station mini-mart junk food and little else, and restore hope and dignity to places where despair and substance abuse have been disproportionately prevalent. One of the interviewees calls this a "restorative revolution," and to see how this idea has rescued and transformed those profiled in this documentary reveals its enormous potential. 

A real strength to Gather is that it digs deeper than these present-day stories. It places the struggle for food sovereignty squarely in the context of the genocidal war waged by European colonists on the continent in the centuries since first arriving in North America, as well as more recent struggles of Native Americans facing off against the U.S. government over their right to fish in waters they've used for sustenance for thousands of years. This context is particularly relevant for White Americans confronting how the country's original sins have led to their own privilege, to systemic racism, and to stark economic disparities. Ultimately, Gather shows what can be possible when Native American communities reconnect and pass on their beliefs in the restorative (in many ways) powers of food and nature. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about documentaries. How does Gather compare to other movies that convey the true stories of real people? 

  • How does the lack of grocery stores selling healthier food in Native American communities lead to health issues such as diabetes and obesity? How can "food sovereignty" help to fix this problem? 

  • Did you find any assumptions you had about the movie's topics challenged? What were they? Did the documentary change your mind? Why or why not? 

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