During the Great Depression, Iowa farmer Milford Beeghly was a passionate devotee of the hybridization of corn, which made him something of a Dr. Frankenstein of the times. No, seriously. Now, his grandson, Monteith McCollum, in his feature film debut, has created the first agricultural-gothic documentary, a demented little love letter to his grandfather. The toast of festivals like Slamdance and SXSW — and no wonder — Hybrid uses McCollum’s original stop-motion animation and eerily melancholy black-and-white footage of Iowa roads, cornfields, farmhouses as a backdrop for interviews with his family, including Milford, still kicking along at nearly 100 years of age. The sad, fascinating intrigue of a human life is brought into stark relief by the monotone Iowa bleakness: Milford, a man “closer to corn than to his family” exacted a high price from his wife and children in the pursuit of his passion — sturdy seed corn — abandoning them emotionally, his work more important to him. (Milford speaks in the film of little else but corn — his children speak of little else but him.) Expressionistic and bizarrely, often enchantingly hypnotic, this is an odd, ooky little film, with a dry, twisted wit: D’ya have any idea what you’re eating when you’re eating corn on the cob?
viewed at home on a small screen