Jumana Mannna’s film Wild Relatives begins just as an international agricultural research centre is forced to relocate from Aleppo to Lebanon due to the war in Syria, and began a laborious process of planting their seed collection from the Svalbard back-ups.
Deep in the earth beneath the Arctic permafrost, seeds from all over the world are stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault to provide a back-up should disaster strike. The film captures the articulation between this large-scale international initiative and its local implementation in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, carried out primarily by young migrant women. The meditative pace patiently teases out tensions between state and individual, industrial and organic approaches to seed saving, climate change and biodiversity, witnessed through the journey of these seeds.
Written and directed by Jumana Manna.