“Portrait of a Cooperative” documents the daily activities of one of the longest-running African American farmer cooperatives located in southern Mississippi, US. Building on the momentum of the Civil Rights Movement, this cooperative was formed as a means for farmers to collectively secure better prices and overcome racial discrimination. Over the years, the cooperative has sustained many farmers and improved food access and economic development in the area. However, the survival of the cooperative is at risk, as family farming increasingly loses out to industrial agriculture, prompting younger generations to quit farming. This documentary short offers a sensory engagement with the practices and activities surrounding the cooperative, exploring how and why these farmers sustain their farming traditions.
Sarah Franzen recently finished her Ph.D. at Emory University in the Institute of the Liberal Arts. Her interdisciplinary research integrates visual anthropology, race, and socio-economic development in order to examine community-based rural development, alternative agriculture, and social change. Outside of academia, Franzen has worked for independent and non-profit film and television organizations and has taught media production for community-based organizations.