This year, the Student Academy Awards received a record 1,796 film entries from around the world. Seasons is one of seven short documentaries to advance in the competition.
“We are honored to be named as Student Academy Award finalists,” Fearon told the Pulitzer Center. “We've always felt that the story of Bodhitree Farm would resonate across a variety of audiences, and this recognition confirms the significance of our film. Our hope is that Seasons will remind viewers of the challenges inherent in providing healthy food to the public, and will celebrate the folks living and working in agricultural communities across the U.S. and abroad.”
A documentary for The New Yorker, the film follows the story of a family farm across generations. Nevia No grew up in what is now North Korea before the border closed, with aspirations to be a singer and dancer that were restricted by social expectations. After immigrating to the U.S. for her education, she found her calling in starting her own farm, making the land her stage and the grueling work her performance. Now, Nevia’s daughter Euni must grapple with social expectations in her own way, as she attempts to reconnect with her mother by helping on the farm.
"We’re honored to be considered for this award. It’s a validation of the hours of love, work and craftsmanship we’ve put into the story," Canal said. "Overall, I hope this new visibility allows the film to reach the people it needs to—the immigrant mothers and second generation daughters who may share the same life experiences, the small farmers who work 365 days a year, and anyone who may want to know more about where their food comes from. I hope they can appreciate the story, and I’m so glad the Student Academy could too."
Canal and Fearon, both 2021 graduates of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, directed the film as part of their Pulitzer Center-supported project. They each published Field Notes about the reporting experience: “Unearthing the Story of 'Seasons'” and “Farming as Art.”
“On a cold November morning, I wandered the farmer’s market in McCarren Park, Brooklyn, asking if farmers could share their time and stories with me. Most were too busy or uninterested, until I met Nevia No,” Canal wrote in her Field Note. “Every couple of weeks, we embedded at the farm from sunrise to dusk, beginning the process of rolling on long vérité scenes. Throughout the planting and harvest seasons, while Nevia and her family balanced planting and picking hundreds of vegetables, we continued to balance multiple storylines … We unearthed a film that evolved into something much richer and more nuanced than I had anticipated the day I first met Nevia at the market.”
The Student Academy Award winners will be announced next month, and the award-winning films will be eligible to compete for the Oscars.
Watch Seasons below: