To cultivate his healing from post-traumatic stress disorder, an Army combat veteran starts a farm and explores its potential.

Independent Lens
Premiere Date
May 29, 2017
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2016 Brooklyn International Film Festival-Best Documentary
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2016 Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival-Best Stories of the South
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2016 Macon Film Festival-Best of Southern Documentary Award
  • Co-Director

    Alix Blair

    Alix Blair is responsible for diverse body of documentary work exploring human rights and environmental issues through both photography and radio production. A recent graduate of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, she documented a group of women living and farming on the edge of a gorilla sanctuary in southwestern Uganda for her Show more Master’s Thesis. Her radio story The Last Morning Was a Sweet One won the 2013 ShortDoc award from the Third Coast International Audio Festival. Show less


    Jeremy M. Lange


    D.L. Anderson

    D.L. Anderson is co-founder of Vittles Films, a film company producing and promoting character-driven documentaries with the mission of “sustenance through storytelling.” After more than a decade as an award-winning documentary and editorial photographer, he began making documentary films as a student at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke Show more University. Past personal work includes Mr. Percy’s Run, a profile of moonshine kingpin and avid fox-hunter Percy Flowers, and Cook School, a behind-the-bars look at the only culinary program for prisoners in North Carolina, produced in partnership with the Southern Foodways Alliance. Show less

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    The Film

    Happiness is a warm chick for Army combat veteran Alex Sutton. Holding a hatching bird in his hands, Alex can imagine a normal life beyond his debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Emboldened by the notion of giving life rather than taking it, and with the unwavering support of his girlfriend, Jessica, Alex decided to become a farmer in the spring of 2012. He met Jessica only two years earlier, after replying to her Craigslist personals post seeking a fishing buddy; now they are hatching hundreds of birds, turning over the soil, and acquiring a wide range of livestock to graze on 43 acres in rural North Carolina.

    Rated 70 percent disabled by the Veteran’s Administration for PTSD incurred over multiple deployments in Iraq, Alex relies on a multitude of prescription meds to help regulate his drastic changes in mood. The reality of farm life, easily romanticized at the outset, begins to take its toll as demanding work irritates old wartime injuries and the isolation keeps him on high alert. After Alex and Jessica are married and then prepare for their daughter to arrive, Alex struggles more than ever with nightmares of war, uncertain if he can ever transition from being a soldier into the new life he desires more than anything.

    Farmer/Veteran examines the healing potential of agriculture while revealing painful truths about the contradictory lives of veterans, aching for the intensity of war while struggling to find a new purpose.