“Farmer of the Year” is a hit in the heart. The independent film by filmmakers Vince O’Connell and Kathy Swanson displays on screen, slowly but with ease, a short trip which symbolizes life in its entirety.
Life is a treacherous journey.
Its beauty lies in its most petrifying qualities; its futile and unexpected nature are the elements that make it precious, fresh and exciting. “Farmer of the Year” grasps life’s true form and serves it to the audience in a quiet, reflective independent film.
“Farmer of the Year” takes the audience on a camper trip in the south of the United States with the company of a lost young 23-year-old girl and her lost 83-year-old grandfather.
The generational incomprehension is so blatantly clear.
The two almost appear to be speaking different languages, their realities seem so apart. Yet, the two are experiencing similar feelings.
Loneliness, misplacement and confusion are shared by the two.
Their trip serves as a way for them to understand who they truly are: to each other, to themselves and to the world.
No true conclusion is ever given. Life has no conclusion if not in death and even that statement still remains unsure.
This film is about life.
Hap Anderson (Barry Corbin) and his granddaughter Ashley Anderson (Mackinlee Waddell) are travelling to a WWII veteran reunion to which Hap was invited.
However, their goal doesn’t matter much. Everything that occurs in between is the true diamond of this film.
The people they meet, the places they go to, their bickering, reveal the personalities and the hardships of the two characters. Without ever rushing, the audience gets to know them.
The viewers walk in their shoes. Hap and Ashley are both looking for partners. They are both looking for a reason to be, a place that fits.
Their objectives matter but the journey towards them matters most.
This film portrays that. The end does not matter. Your experience of the film does.
Life is short.
If one only lives for the moments of achievement, for the end, it’s even shorter.
Hap and Ashley learn to keep their eyes open for the true gifts life has to offer.
They learn to overcome their differences. They start appreciating life because of its very uncertainty.
Every moment counts, and they know. With them the audience does as well.
If it’s a time of confusion and dispersion, if a reason to be seems lost, this is the film to watch.
“Farmer of the Year” won the New Filmmakers Forum at the St. Louis International Film Festival NFF.
It premiered April 13, 2018, at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival and Sep. 22, 2018, at the Breckenridge Film Festival.
It was screened at Keene Cinemas from March 29 to April 4, 2019.
The trailer is available on Vimeo.
Jacqueline Pantano can be contacted at