‘Knee Deep’ tells story of Farmington farmer

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FARMINGTON – A documentary film, “Knee Deep,” featuring a Farmington farmer, will be shown during the Maine International Film Festival in Waterville this weekend.

The film retells the story of Joshua Osborne, a young farmer accused of shooting his mother, Janette Osborne, while she was hanging out clothes in July 2003 in a dispute about the sale of the family farm.

Screening times are 3:30 p.m. today and 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Waterville Opera House.

The film will also be shown at 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 20, at Railroad Square Cinema.

The film was directed by Michael Chandler and produced by Sheila Canavan. It is an 81-minute feature.

It received the 2007 Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature at its world premiere at the Florida Film Festival earlier this year, according to the film festival’s release.

The release also describes the film as the tale of Osborne, pulled out of school in the sixth grade to work his family’s dairy farm, and the desperate efforts he and his friends made to hold onto the dairy farm he believed would one day be his.

“The film is very well made and beautifully shot,” said Beth Eisen, a festival programmer who has seen the film. “Chandler, now from Utah, takes an outsider’s look at our beautiful state and rural culture.”

Charges of attempted murder against Osborne were dropped when new evidence was discovered that would have created reasonable doubt about whether he did shoot his mother in the chest. He did plead guilty in 2004 to criminal solicitation to commit murder, reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and tampering with a witness, for which he was sentenced to serve two years of a five-year sentence with four years’ probation.

“The film gives a very careful presentation of the story, compassionate and very funny, but not in a way that makes fun of anyone but with definite humor. The humor comes from compassion for humanity. It wants to engage you and is lighthearted,” Eisen said.

Raised in Maine, Chandler returned to Maine in 2002 and began the documentary project after reading a news article about the shooting, according to the release.

Taking three years to complete, shooting of the film began the day the Osborne farm was torn down to make way for a high-end housing development. One that does not allow farm animals, according to his Web site.

The film includes people looking back on things that happened, Eisen said, as well as footage from courtroom scenes. Chandler also was able to include material from the farm before it was torn down, she said.

“It makes an interesting story. It’s the telling of the tale of the end of one type of life and the new life we’re entering into,” Eisen said as she spoke of the loss of farmland and the way of life for farmers that underscores the film.

The film was produced by the Moenkopi Group, a nonprofit organization that develops, produces and distributes films, books and other educational material featuring historical and social concerns.

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