Director Jody Shapiro (How to Start Your Own Country) ventures into the backwoods of Maine to find the reclusive Burt Shavitz, founder and (bearded) face of the all-natural personal care brand Burt’s Bees, in this wry, thoughtful and intimate portrait of a highly idiosyncratic pioneer.
Following his cheeky documentary How to Start Your Own Country, director Jody Shapiro returns to the Festival with Burt's Buzz, a vibrant and incisive portrait of Burt Shavitz. Famous for its all-natural personal care items, Burt's Bees has become a household name in many parts of the world. The company built a mighty reputation as a producer of eco-friendly products made from simple ingredients, and in the process it has become a billion-dollar business. But less well-known is the eccentric man behind the brand, whose bearded face still graces many of its labels.
In Burt's Buzz, Shapiro takes us into the reclusive backwoods world of beekeeper Shavitz, still committed to living off the land in Maine, as he has since the 1970s, in a renovated turkey coop with no running water. Shapiro explores Shavitz's peculiar relationship with the company he co-founded with Roxanne Quimby. The birth of Burt's Bees and its emergence as a lucrative brand may be the stuff of legend, but it's also contentious: Shavitz sold his shares decades ago, reaping virtually nothing from the company's financial success; yet he remains contracted to promote the brand, travelling the world making public appearances. Wise and wry, absent-minded and unflappable, Shavitz is a fascinating subject.
With a steadfast, subtle hand, Shapiro
exposes the contrasts and ironies that
pepper Shavitz's life — including the collision
between business and personal
values — and delicately mines the humour
and emotion of his story. The result is a
thoughtfully layered portrait of this highly
idiosyncratic pioneer, and a revealing study
of what it means to be a living icon.
AGATA SMOLUCH DEL SORBO