Screened as part of NZIFF 2009

The Neglected Miracle 1985

Directed by Barry Barclay

Classic NZ documentary. “A chillingly prescient study of the erosion of plant genetic diversity in the Third World by seed companies working for First-World profit.” — Peter Calder, NZ Herald

106 minutes DigiBeta

Director, Screenplay


John O’Shea
Craig Walters


Rory O’Shea


Annie Collins


Wouter v.d. Hoeven


Jenny McLeod


Keri Kaa

When The Neglected Miracle premiered at the Wellington Film Festival in 1985 few of us knew about the dangers of corporate ‘ownership’ of genetic crop resources. John O’Shea and Barry Barclay, on the other hand, had already been working on the subject for seven years, shooting in Peru, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Australia and New Zealand. Their film is cannily structured around interviews with peasant farmers who’ve preserved and nurtured their corn and potatoes for generations and whose closeness to the land is lyrically photographed and evoked in traditional song. The First-World scientists and businessmen who appear in the film – most of them landless Dutch – are much more forthright than their 21st-century successors as they uphold their rights to treat these resources as intellectual property. This ground breaking film remains deeply impressive for its cogent argument – which, by today’s standards, is almost subliminal in its lack of soundbite stridency – and its poetic, fearful vision of undefended paradise. — BG