Earth House screens "The Garden" 

As part of its Food Independence Day celebration, Earth House is screening the Oscar-nominated film "The Garden" and hosting a meet-and-greet with filmmaker Scott Kennedy Hamilton.

The passion of Hamilton's work is in his nonfiction documentaries, finding the social conflicts in people's lives. This is how he captured his Academy Award-nominated film The Garden. Hamilton will be presenting this film Thursday, July 2 at Earth House as part of Food Independence Day, an event celebrating locally grown and organic foods.

After college, Hamilton interned with the late Richard Rogers, to whom The Garden is dedicated. He has done other documentaries, including award-winning OT: Our Town in 2002 about high school students in Compton, Calif., who attempt to put on a school play, the first one in 20 years. His documentaries are a way to "give voice to people that might not be heard," Hamilton said in a telephone interview. This is how he became interested in the story of The Garden.

Hamilton heard about a unique community in Los Angeles from a friend who saw a glimpse of the story on a PBS special. He almost instantly started shooting the film in late February 2004. A long four and a half years later, the film was completed and winning awards.

The Garden tells the story of a group of farmers in South Central Los Angeles who built the largest community garden in the U.S. on 14 acres. The garden was created in 1992 by the neighborhood as a means of feeding their families and coping after the Rodney King riots.

Before the community, mostly consisting of poor immigrants, took over the property, Hamilton explains that there was only cement. The people had to bring in dirt to make the property surrounded by warehouses fertile. The garden itself was so important to the people because it "was created by the people that used it," Hamilton said. It became a second home to these people because they relied on it over an extensive period of time. "It lasted so long," Hamilton said.

After creating the garden, the farmers were threatened by government officials, community activists and the previous property owner who had other intentions for the land. Hamilton explains that this film shows a diverse array of elements with interesting characters and conflicts from courtroom dramas to fund raising concerts.

Hamilton shared a story that a woman once came to him after seeing the documentary and told him she didn't realize that she was going to be seeing a war movie. "My mission is to tell fascinating, complex and entertaining stories," Hamilton said. "I prefer to let the story come on top."

Hamilton says that this garden was a magical place to have been in and that his intention for making these types of universal stories is a way of showing people "how we are more alike."

"If you see the trailer and like it you will definitely like the movie," Hamilton said. The trailer can be viewed on the movie's Web site,

The documentary will be shown at 7:30 p.m. but Mike Oles, a founder of Earth House, says other activities will precede the film. The doors to Earth House will open at 4 p.m. with 15 groups and organizations, including Slow Food Indy, Shepherd Center and Indy Food Cooperation, presenting their exhibits and talking to attendees about their purposes and goals. This time will be set aside for people to converse about the development of a possible food charter for Indianapolis.

Live folk music will be playing with an affordable, vegetarian and all-organic menu available. Oles anticipates that the family-friendly event will bring in a crowd of 300 to 400 people. Thursday nights are normally movie night for Earth House. For more information, visit

"It [Food Independence Day] is our spin on Kitchen Gardeners International," Oles said about the national initiative created by the non-profit organization in Maine. KGI's goal is to have America's first families eat from local gardens and farms as a model to American citizens to be more self-reliant and to eat healthier. A petition has been created by KGI to ask all of America's first families to join the Food Independence Day initiative. To view the petition, visit

Earth House is located at Lockerbie Central United Methodist Church at 237 N. East St. People can meet with Hamilton in person at a luncheon provided by Earth House for $20 at 12 p.m. the day of the screening. Though the viewing of the film is free, there will be a suggested donation of $5 per person.

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