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HYBRID

USA, 2000 (MIFF 2001, Documentaries)

Director: Monteith McCollum

High yields, stiff stalks—one man's passion for corn." So runs the tag me of this truly unusual and highly original documentary. Milford Beeghly has made corn his life's work. Now 101 years old and sassy as ever. Beeghly began experimenting with corn breeds, when even basic gene research was considered the devil's work in Americas corn-belt. Hysterically denounced as, "nothing more than a pimp for corn,'' in the U.S. Senate. Beeghly carried on his obsessive work in secret, developing insect drought and disease resistant crops that fed billions across the globe. In amongst this seemingly simple story are scattered the bizarre incidents and wild anecdotes that make this film so compelling.

Impressionistic black and white photography, creepy animation (reminiscent of the Quay Brothers' necrophilic arcana) and Beeghiys fascinating family history (he spent the first six years of his life dressed and acting as a little girl) combine to make for compulsive viewing. Winner of the Slamdance Best Feature Jury Award, this is a strange tale told in a unique fashion.

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