Skip to Content
Buried in the Backyard: A Documentary cover photo

Buried in the Backyard: A Documentary 2004


Distributed by Cinema Guild, 115 West 30th Street, Suite 800, New York, NY 10001; 212-685-6242
Produced by The Documentary Institute, College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida
Directed by Monica Bigler and Sara Prior
DVD, color, 88 min.

Sr. High - Adult
Survivalists, Emergency Preparation

Date Entered: 05/25/2007

Reviewed by Michael Fein, Coordinator of Library Services, Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg, VA

This production, which has been seen by some as “entertaining” or “provocative”, seems to be an attempt by the producer to make sense of what some term as “survivalists”. This term has certain pejorative connotations and the production says as much about the producer, if not more, than about his subject matter. In 1998 and 1999 we had the Y2K scare and many people made provision, or to some hoarded, in case there was a wide scale failure of computer systems. Nothing major happened and these folks received some ridicule. Then came 9/11 and people who may have been scornful began asking a lot of questions… In the wake of Katrina people realized that the government could not guarantee their lives, much as happened during Hurricane Andrew a decade earlier, though on a smaller scale. All this is to say that many people make fun of those who prepare for emergencies by calling them paranoid or by talking about people “facing their fears” as the back of the case notes. This subtle condescension comes through in this production in the selection of accompanying music to the various video images and sound bites presented between interviews. The beginning of the film is of sound bites of emergency notices from 9/11 that accompany images of that event. These are juxtaposed with sound bites of the “survivalists”, who come from all regions of the country and all of whom are quite frank about what they do and why. One woman notes insightfully about the complacency of America’s “entertainment culture.”

Technically, this is a good production. While not as polished as one from a big name production company, this work demonstrates how the new technology has leveled the playing field in terms of technical aspects.

Does this work give insight into “survivalists?” No, not really. Could it be a possible springboard for a meaningful discussion on how to prepare one’s home and family for emergencies? Possibly, if an instructor takes the time to do their homework.