show menu

Film Review: ‘Children of the Vine’ documentary is a real life horror flick

“Children of the Vine” is a horror movie. It is also an indictment of our corrupt corporate culture. If we benefit greatly by modern chemistry there is also a corollary, a consequence. The title pays homage to Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn,” which is also of the horror genre.

When Brian Lilla and his wife decided to start a family they moved from Oakland to what they thought was the bucolic and benign Napa Valley. Of course, Napa Valley is known globally for its production of premium wines. He also found out that there was a high incidence of cancer in children from this area. He recalled how, when cycling through the countryside, he observed workers spraying thousands of gallons of the herbicide Round Up on the ubiquitous rows of grape vines that carpet the fields. It was thought provoking. Glyphosate, the key ingredient in Round Up has been classified by the World Health Organization as a “probable carcinogenic to humans.” Lilla started doing research and he talked to scientists and lawyers and friends and neighbors and all that parlance gave birth to the film “Children of the Vine.” Lilla brings his movie to small venues by request but hopes to have it on a large platform like Netflix, HBO or Discovery within a year. It was screened at the Rialto in Sebastopol recently. The Rialto is particularly amenable to community involvement.

Glyphosate is the monster in this horror movie but ancillary chemicals used to enhance its efficacy are also suspect. Patented in 1964 by Monsanto, Bayer bought the company in 2018 for 63 billion. There are approximately 140,000 lawsuits pending against the company from people who have developed Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. At this point the director brings things down to a personal level and interviews two farmers who believed Round Up to be safe but eventually developed cancer. Here is a very sobering statistic: “recent studies indicate that there is 700 to 1600 times more Round Up in breast milk than what is allowed in our water system.” Breast milk! If you think you are avoiding contamination by buying organic, glyphosate was even found in organic wines. It is easy to blame Big Ag for this toxic infusion but your neighbors are also guilty for spraying their backyards and maintenance crews for spraying parks and sports fields and school yards and other places where children play. Many cities have restricted usage of the substance including Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles. Many countries have issued an outright ban including Canada, Mexico and Russia. If Russia is competing with the U.S. for world dominance will the next generation of children mature to be stronger than ours who have been exposed? Frightening, indeed!

We've moved our commenting system to Disqus, a widely used community engagement tool that you may already be using on other websites. If you're a registered Disqus user, your account will work on the Gazette as well. If you'd like to sign up to comment, visit
Show Comment