Feeding Frances McDormand
Nomadland's Frog Holler connections
by Sandor Slomovits
From the December, 2020 issue
When the credits roll at the end of the new film, Nomadland, local organic food fans might recognize some names. Emily Foley, one of the coproducers of the film which stars Frances McDormand, has another career as a farmer. She lives in Brooklyn, MI, with her partner, Edwin King of Frog Holler Farm. Both of them, along with the rest of the King family, are familiar faces at the farm's produce stall at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. Angie Martin and Nick Raterman, who catered the film, are also familiar to local food and music fans as the chefs at Holler Fest, the annual August music festival on Frog Holler's grounds.
Foley, as head of development at Hear/Say Productions, says she worked on logistics, location scouting, casting, and doing a "multitude of other things along the way" including her first, small, on-screen role, "which was quite terrifying." Martin and Raterman cooked for cast and crew out of the back of a rental van during filming in five Western states, "in food deserts, as well as literal deserts."
Based on Jessica Bruder's 2017 nonfiction book of the same name, Nomadland is described as "docu-fiction." It follows a woman in her sixties (McDormand), who, after the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, takes off in a van, traveling and living outside the boundaries of conventional society. Bruder chronicled real people who live this kind of nomadic lifestyle in her book, and some of them show up in the film.
Foley and King attended the outdoor premiere at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena in September. Reluctant to fly, they did what the characters in Nomadland do: they drove, living out of their car and camping in national forests along the way.
[Originally published in December, 2020.]
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