Although it may not be the most vivid or exciting subject for cinematic exploration, the documentary "Seeds of Time" offers a vital, clear-headed look at the effects of climate change on global food security. Still, one suspects the film will likely preach to the converted instead of enlightening the science skeptics and political naysayers, largely under-discussed here, who might most benefit from a viewing.
Producer-director Sandy McLeod follows American agriculture pioneer Cary Fowler around the world — Russia, Italy, Denmark and elsewhere — as he spreads the word about the desperate need for crop diversity and seed conservation and the reasons why crops must adapt to warming temperatures.
The genial, genteel Fowler, a former executive director of the Crop Trust (for which he now serves as a senior advisor), was also a key figure in the creation of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault located on an island in northernmost Norway. McLeod and Fowler take us on an intriguing tour of this "frozen garden of Eden," which provides fail-safe storage for seed samples of more than 4,000 plant species. (Fowler hopes his remains will be buried within the vault.)
The movie also spends visually stirring time with the indigenous farmers of rural Peru, where the native potato crop has taken a hit from the area's increasing heat.
Interviews with other members of the seed preservation and agricultural development communities plus bits of archival footage and clever animation complete this well-shot cautionary tale.
"Seeds of Time"
MPAA rating: None.
Running time: 1 hour, 17 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.