AT ANY PRICE
Expand or Die
Bahrani collaborated with co-writer HALLIE ELIZABETH NEWTON on the
screenplay. "She's great at character, dialogue and humor," he says, and their rich
storytelling propels a gripping human-scale tale that encompasses big and complex issues
about morality, progress, and the nature of agriculture itself.
"Like a lot of people these days, we're very interested in food -- where does it come
from? Is it processed? What are we putting into our bodies? And the king of processed
food is corn. There's a collision between our collective romantic idea of farming and
heartland values, and the reality that farming is a big, cutthroat business. It has
dramatically changed -- it's not local guys in overalls plowing the land; it's businessmen
running multimillion dollar operations with very advanced technology. On my first trip
out to Iowa, every farmer I mettold me the same two phrases, "Expand or die" and "Get
big or get out." It seemed like a metaphor for American society, for the values that have
led us to disaster. In many ways, believing in those mantras perpetuated the housing
crisis, and the global financial meltdown. It's a dangerous philosophy for life that is being
exported to Europe and beyond."
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