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From The Ground Up


Cinematography and editing by Su Friedrich

Additional cinematography by Pedro Díaz Valdés

Funded in part by grants from the NY State Council on the Arts and the Council on Research in the Humanities at Princeton University

video, color
54 minutes

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in Spanish

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With few words and no polemics, From the Ground Up shows how an ordinary cup of coffee occupies center stage in the world economy.

Traveling with the filmmaker from Guatemala to South Carolina to New York City and seeing each phase of coffee production unfold—the growing, picking, processing, distribution, brewing and selling—one comes to understand that most products we use have passed through the hands, and lives, of countless people in numerous countries.

As the world’s second most traded commodity after oil, it’s all about the coffee, and about everything else we consume, consume, consume….

" With deep intelligence and a very light touch, Friedrich invites you to wake up and smell the global economy."
—Stuart Klawans

" Hands, over and over again. The fast hands of women, children’s hands, calloused workers’ hands, the groomed hands of gentlemen, the manicured hands of ladies: coffee junkies have no idea how many hands the beans pass through, and how much manual labor goes into that one cup which is supposed to wake you up and bring you pleasure, or which you carelessly spill…..Friedrich seems to allow her camera to simply observe, even while she juxtaposes the under-age coffee pickers and their hundred-pound baskets with the plantation owner’s thoroughbred horse, or counterposes the many bare-footed little children with the large mansion. But her mostly unimpeded view lets the spectator think independently."
—Magdalena Miedl, BIORAMA

Selected Film Festival Screenings and Awards:
Viennale Film Festival, Austria; Athens Film Festival, Ohio; NYC Food Film Festival






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