Big Sky Film: “Gimme Green” Explores
America's Lawn Obsession
NewWest | Febuary 15, 2007
By Tad Sooter

Editor's Note: “Gimme Green” is one of NewWest.Net's top picks for the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival , which opens Feb. 15 at the Wilma Theater. “Gimme Green,” which will see its world premiere at the festival, shows on Sunday, Feb. 18 at 2:00 p.m. in the Wilma . Click here to watch the trailer and check back to for more NewWest.Net picks this week and coverage of the festival.

At more than 40 million acres it's the largest irrigated crop in America and 5,000 new acres are planted daily. It uses 30,000 tons of pesticides a year, billions of gallons of water and looks great with garden gnomes. It's lawn grass.  And Gimme Green, , a short film at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival this week, explores the American obsession with it—and the tidy, green front yards it creates.

In just 27 minutes this sometimes funny, sometimes scary film ambitiously pulls together the environmental, economic and social impacts of lawn cultivation, all the while toying with the idea of lawns as a symbol of social status.

Gimme Green manages to touch on the most important issues involved with America's lawns. It uses the visual absurdity of lush yards in Southwest deserts to show how home irrigation sucks up vital aquifers and follows a chemical crew as it sprays pesticides on a patch of suburbia. But mostly the film relies on numbers to make its statement. (Children who play on chemical-sprayed lawns are 6.5 times more likely to develop Leukemia).

It's the eccentric crowd of characters that make the film fun.  Lawn lovers philosophize on how a well-kept front yard relates to a well-kept life and one compares using lawn care services to having sex with multiple partners. (“You never know what you're going to get when they're done with someone else's yard.”) A lawn grass dissenter in Florida shows off a house he painted with pink and purple polka dots in protest of a city ordinance barring artificial turf. These lighthearted interviews, combined with tidbits of history, round out the profile of lawns as a cultural phenomenon.

Gimme Green feels scattered at times, but the energetic tempo keeps the film light while the surprising statistics are meaty enough to make it thought-provoking. By the end of this overachieving film, the notion of lawns starts to sound silly altogether.