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‘Holland, Man.’ documentary follows a Manitoba family’s transition

Winnipeg filmmaker Aaron Zeghers spent two years creating a film 
about the last two years of his family’s farm at Holland

After touring North America, a Winnipeg filmmaker is bringing the story of the last years of his family’s farm near Holland, Man. back to his hometown.

The documentary film, called “Holland, Man.” will debut in Aaron Zeghers’ hometown May 12.

Zeghers spent two years interviewing his father and other family members while producing the film.

“It’s obviously a very personal story,” he said. “It’s an homage to my father and my family’s heritage.”

Zeghers is the son of Don Zeghers, a now-retired grain farmer. His dad was the last in the family to operate what was once a multi-generational farm, says Aaron.

The younger Zeghers knew from a young age that he wasn’t interested in farming.

“I realized in late high school that while I have immense respect for farming and for my dad and my family, it just wasn’t something that I adapted to naturally,” he said. “I was always dreaming of other things.”

He left to study in Winnipeg, pursued his interest in photography, video and filmmaking and eventually became involved with Winnipeg’s experimental film community through Video Pool and the Winnipeg Film Group.

“Holland, Man.” has been on the road awhile, where Zeghers has shown it in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and in Montreal where one reviewer called it “the most honest and sincere film” of that city’s Festival du nouveau cinéma.

It tells the story of the final two crop years as his dad phases out their family farm, Zeghers said. He made the film using experimental photography on three 16-mm projectors, one Super 8 projector and one digital projector.

He plays violin and banjo himself to provide live soundtrack and describes the whole effect as “a blend of old traditions and new technologies” — just like the farm.

“It’s a little outside of the box. But it’s such a universal story, especially for those who have lived the farming lifestyle, I think it will have a great impact on audiences there.”

“Holland, Man.” is being brought to town via the Tiger Hills Arts Association and will air May 12 at 7 p.m. at the Holland Community Hall.

Other films airing that evening will be “Very Good Dirt,” by Vancouver-based filmmaker Catharine Parke, a film also made in Manitoba, and “Ghosts of John Henry,” by Dawson City, Yukon filmmaker Dan Sokolowski.

About the author

Reporter

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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