Waterground (Film)


  •  Frances Morton
  •  1977
  • Color IconColor
  •  16:06
  •  16 mm film
Film Description
Walter Winebarger is the fifth generation of his family to operate Winebarger’s Mill, a waterpowered gristmill located at Meat Camp, near Boone, North Carolina. He continues to grind flour and meal using a process that has changed very little since the mill was built a hundred years ago. In Waterground, water diverted from a nearby creek splashes onto a large, overshot wheel and brings the interior of the mill to life in a chain reaction of gears, belts, and grinding stones. As Winebarger fills bags with freshly ground flour, he reflects on the history of his mill and the social changes that have affected it. The simplicty of the mill and Winebarger’s comments on the difficulties facing the small farmer are contrasted with a visit to a large General Mills plant in Johnson City, Tennessee where 44,000 bags of flour are produced every day, and Waterground makes for a fascinating portrait of an industry in flux before the modern industrial complex took over.

Screenings & Festivals
  • Big Muddy Film Festival
  • Greater Miami International Film Festival
  • FILMEX, Los Angeles
  • Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute

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“There is no attempt here to put down mass production or take cheap shots at ‘progress,’ but one does lament the passing of this old way, of its attendant values, its reliance on the extended family, its closeness to and gentle use of the natural environment … A lovely, stirring film.” — Media and Methods