Motivated by a strong desire to reconnect to the soil, her family’s history and consume healthier products, Samantha Winship started Mother’s Finest Farm. As she expertly runs her family business, while also elevating the voice of the very few Black American farmers in the country, Courtney Dixon’s Believe in Ghosts invites us to share in her work, its ties to her heritage and how the past still informs the present with her empowering journey.
Deeply affected by a feature story on Mother’s Finest Farm, which connected Samantha’s story to systemic racism in the agriculture industry, Dixon rural upbringing meant she also related to one of Samantha’s core values – “the power of the soil”. Very mindful of their differences, “as a white woman from the deep south, I am fully aware our history is drastically different”, the filmmaker reached out and started a conversation about sharing Samantha’s story. They started production in early 2020 and in the following months, certain events would make the importance of sharing Samantha’s journey become even more critical in the quest to inspire change.
As a farmer in the South, Samantha not only works in a male-dominated field but also in an industry where she does not have a lot of Black peers, making her experience all the more unique and empowering for the community. Battling decades of prejudice, racial disparities and a system that has failed her and her ancestors again and again, Dixon authentically captures her inspirational demeanour as she recounts her life, the gorgeous cinematography adding an extra immersive dimension to an already engaging film.
“My goal is to give a visual platform to topics that promote empathy, understanding, and, more directly, raise awareness”
Watching Believe in Ghosts, feels like an invitation into Samantha’s world as we join her first alone on the farm, then with her family and eventually as an important member of her community. As she shares her life with the camera, she is never afraid to show her vulnerability, along with her strength, Dixon revealing that her goal was to “give a visual platform to topics that promote empathy, understanding, and, more directly, raise awareness”. Shot on film, the texture of the 16mm photography contributes greatly to the short’s atmosphere, complementing both the matter of fact nature of the narrative and the less tangible aspects that connect Samantha to her roots, her ancestors and the soil itself.
Dixon is currently working on an experimental short doc titled Happy Ending, which explores the perspective of the daughter of a man who is in the late stages of dementia and has a hyperactive sex drive. She describes it as a “raw, funny and painfully authentic recollection”.