‘The Grab’ Trailer: Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s New Doc Exposes Global Exploitation of Food Prices

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What’s the new way governments can control its populations? By controlling their food.

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, whose documentary “Blackfish” exposed the animal cruelty at SeaWorld, follows journalist Nathan Halverson as he uncovers the colonization of food and water by the wealthiest nations. “The Grab” is billed as a global thriller combining hard-hitting journalism from The Center for Investigative Reporting with compelling character-driven storytelling spanning across the globe. It is one of Participant Media’s final films.

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Per its synopsis, quietly and seemingly out of sight, governments, private investors, and mercenaries are working to seize food and water resources at the expense of entire populations. These groups are establishing themselves as the new OPEC, where the future world powers will be those who control not oil, but food. And it’s all beginning to bubble to the surface in real time. Global food prices have hit an all-time high, threatening chaos and violence. Meanwhile China, Russia, the UAE, and Wall Street are just a few of the players strategizing within this shocking, shifting geopolitical landscape.

Director Cowperthwaite charts how the 2014 purchase of the world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, by the Chinese government-backed Shuanghui International Holdings led to an international crisis.

IndieWire’s review praised the craft on display in the feature doc: “the compositions are sleek, the cagey score smears the facts with an eerie and unnerving bite, and the editing, mixed with the crisp visuals, carry us through the glut of data.”

Yet the film still “works best when the film bends down to the human level.”

Cowperthwaite told Salon in 2022 when the film debuted at TIFF that she worked on the documentary for six years. “There was a moment when I realized this isn’t an existential environmental story, where the world is heading into this void; this is human agency,” Cowperthwaite said. “There are people capitalizing on the scarcity and looking to grab up what is left for themselves at the expense of other people. It’s a story almost more about equality than food and water scarcity disaster. This is where World War III starts. It’s so complicated and there are so many players. It was tough to include because it’s convoluted, and I only have 90 minutes. I have to deliver information in bouillon cubes and keep it digestible and hold [viewers’] interest. I have to be super responsible and not overload them. There was enough information to make a series.”

“The Grab” premieres June 14 in theaters. Check out the trailer below.

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