( Excerpts from Articles and Magazines )
Slamdance Strikes its claim at the Silvermine -
- And what about the docs? Well three documentaries screened in competition with the narratives, and one of them Monteith McCollum's Hybrid, took the Grand Jury Award for Best Feature. When you consider a film about an Iowa farmer who revolutionized a way to hybridize corn, you may not rush to see it. But Hybrid is such a revelation in so many ways. The film itself is a hybrid of documentary, animation, and experimental, and McCollum has a seemingly in-exhaustive arsenal of artistic sensibilities to render the ordinary and mundane - and you don't get much more ordinary than a cornfield - into something extra ordinary and astonishing. Shot in grainy 16mm black and white, Hybrid weaves together footage of Milford Beeghly, the subject of the film (who also happens to be McCollum's grandfather), Beeghly's family and archival footage of Beeghly plugging his agronomical innovation on local television. And there's also the grimly impressionistic vistas of farmland right out of a Hopper painting, seamlessly juxtaposed with footage from Pare Lorentz's The Land and The Plow that Broke the Plains and the time-lapse animated sequences of corn growing, popping and dancing, and yes, mating. McCollum also composed the music, a melancholy chamber work that recalls Bartok. Hybrid impressed the Slamdance jurors so much that they did away with the Best Doc category, at least for this year, when they voted the film Best Feature.
- Hybrid is the most pleasingly unconventional documentary portrait in recent memory. Filmed and edited over a period of six years, it recounts the strange and marvelous career of 100-year old Iowa corn farmer Milford Beeghly, McCollum's grandfather. Stitching together a crazy quiilt of interviews with Beeghly's children and second wife (wedded when he was 94).
skits and monologues performed by the patriarch himself, three self-produced TV sales pitches from the Fifties, long-take shots of static Iowa farmscapes, and hysterical snippets of pixelated corncobs engaging in lewd behavior, McCollum-with the assistance of avantgardist Ariana Gerstein-has fashioned a thoroughly uncategorizable movie experience. -Paul Arthur -
- While making his first feature, Monteith McCollum took his inspiration from some unexpected places: Kurosawa, Tarkovsky, Flaherty and Nebraska farmers. The young filmmaker liked the way the farmers used whatever parts were at hand to solve a myriad of mechanical problems. Having spent Summers on his grandparents' farm, McCollum, now based in upstate NY, soaked up this spirit of shoe-string inventiveness and put it to good use to make Hybrid, an experimental documentary about his grandfather, Milford Beeghly, who developed hybrid corn in the 1930's. McCollum adopted Beeghly's use of jerry-rigged, handmade and recycled tools and applied them to his cinematography. "Hybrid" is indeed the result of many peculiar inventions. In place of the usual dollies and cranes, McCollum adapted the devices around him, utilizing skid steers, skateboards, turntables, rope pulleys, janitor's brooms and various homemade motors.