The fungus among us

Still from the film Now, Forager.

Nonprofit Upstate Films in Rhinebeck (and now Woodstock, too) has a long history of providing Hudson Valley audiences an alternative to mainstream films. With a modest budget, owners Steve and DeDe Leiber and their crew offer more than 700 screenings a year of material not readily available elsewhere.

This Sunday, December 2 at 1:30 p.m., Upstate Films will show Now, Forager (2012), a thought-provoking film directed by Jason Cortlund and Julia Halpern that traces the struggles of a couple trying to build a life around an alternative lifestyle foraging for mushrooms in the woods to sell to New York City restaurants.

In the film, Lucien, played by Jason Cortlund, is a mycological authority whose idealism counters his wife’s (Tiffany Esteb) practicality. The instability of their income becomes too much for her, and she takes a job working in a high-end restaurant, while Lucien continues to devote himself full-time to nomadic foraging. Now, Forager examines the down sides of ideological tenacity on a relationship and the realities of life for those who decide to live outside the norm.

With scenes filmed in the woods of the Hudson Valley and at chef Jamie Parry’s Another Fork in the Road, the innovative, locally sourced restaurant in Milan, the movie will feel close to home for viewers. After the screening, film and foraging enthusiasts can participate in a discussion at the theater in Rhinebeck hosted by Lisa Resnick and Barbara Plume from the Mid-Hudson Mycological Association.

Now, Forager, Sunday, December 2, 1:30 p.m., $8.50 adults/$7 seniors & students/$5 members, Upstate Films, 6415 Montgomery Street/Route 9, Rhinebeck; (845) 876-2515,

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