Films by Liz Marshall
From 1971 – 1977 Midian Farm was a back-to-the-land social experiment created by a community of urban baby-boomers from Toronto. Part of the youth counter-culture movement during a period of social and political re-imagining, its utopian vision eventually collapsed. My process began with the realization that Midian Farm, its cohesiveness from beginning, middle to end, was unknown. This motivated me to draw near to something that was obscured through decades; partially memorialized by a fading hodgepodge of family images. The past lives in the present and early childhood memories would surface in my mind’s eye like short movie clips on repeat, locked in a landscape that was a happy swirl and something so terribly empty. I lived at Midian Farm from 1971 to 1974, from the age of two to the age of five.
Midian Farm is a collection of multiple voices, old branches and universal themes, and I set out to unearth an untold Canadian story, one I had always had in my back pocket. Cracking open Midian Farm was excavating the story of my mother and father, their marriage and leadership. It required a special kind of grit, as if prying the rusted lock of an ancient chest. I realized there are two films: an in-depth feature length documentary MIDIAN FARM, focused on the social-political backdrop of the era and Midian’s multi-cast community, then and now; and FAMILY PORTRAIT, my York University Master of Fine Arts thesis, which would summon a dormant voice to explore transformational ground.