Farmlab Public Salon
Friday July 18, 2008 @ Noon
About the Salon
Join documentary filmmaker Miroslav Mandic for an extended preview of "Searching for Johnny," his forthcoming film about the folkloric tree-planter Johnny Appleseed; and following the preview, a discussion about Appleseed, and his legacy.
About the Film
Searching for Johnny: The need for an idealized folk hero reflects the necessity to evoke pioneer foundations in a country eager to change and make projections for the future.
Many stories and oral traditions about John Chapman, often made up or springing out from a true hint that grew out of proportion and out of any sense of reality, for years were a sweet lullaby to children across the country. Yet, one of the most pervasive myths about Johnny Appleseed is that he never was. The notion of a myth overwhelming reality and claiming to be more truthful to a cause than the truth itself, will be an aspect which this film would embrace in all its’ controversy.
If we tried to imagine a Johnny Appleseed strolling across the contemporary American landscape - would he travel by car or peddle a canoe down the Ohio River, what would be the frontier he would try to anticipate, who would be the settlers in need of his product, who would be the hostile native people full of respect for him?
Would he be a modern farmer, growing his seedlings at a secluded orchard? To whom would he preach a highly intellectual Swedenborghian doctrine, how would it be called nowadays – Buddhism, Scientology, New Born Christianity? How would his merchandise abilities fare against shopping malls? Would his simple, raggedy outfit label him as a hippie or a bum? Would his pantheistic celebration of nature, love and respect for every living creature, turn him into an ecological activist, a Green Party authority, or an anti-globalization protester?
His contact with nature, dependence and reliance on it - particularly its’ current resonances - goes way beyond sheer refusal of a comfortable home, his supposed vegetarianism and saintly Francis of Assissi-like attitude. The notion of a human as a mere particle in the ever circulating changes in nature is sadly foreign to the contemporary rape of things natural, performed by greedy corporate world that misuses their technological clout over nature daily. We hope that this film will emanate a clear alternative to the current ways of interaction between man and nature.
John Chapman certainly was and still would be an example of American individualism, an embodiment of the existentialist philosophy that Europe brooded about, and America put in practice. According to the myth, Johnny Appleseed was a pacifist and a dreamer, someone who would sanction others’ wrongdoing by his own self-denial and claim that love alone could prevent the failure of humanity.
He made a difference back then, but would he now?
About the Salon Presenter
Miroslav Mandic is an award-winning film, television, and theater director and screenwriter.
His filmography includes: ‘Searching for Johnny’ (writer/director, documentary feature), 2008; ‘It’s Hard To Be Nice’ (story) 2007; ‘Tractor, Love & Rock’n’roll’ (screenplay) 2007; ‘borderline lovers’ (writer/director, documentary feature) 2005; ‘La Paloma Blanca’ (screenplay) 2004, 'Johnny Telluride Is Gone' (screenplay) 1997; 'A Tree In The House' (screenplay) 1990; 'Walking On The Water' (director, screenplay) 1988; 'Workers' Marriage' (director, screenplay, short) 1985; 'Rainbird' (director, story, short) 1983. He holds an MFA from Columbia University and is a Fullbright receipient.
Film stills courtesy Miroslav Mandic. Special thanks to Eleanor Infante