movie poster for kiss the ground

2020 has been a year of reckoning. In a matter of months, we’ve faced record-breaking wildfires, increasingly harsh and frequent hurricanes, heatwaves, and more. Our environment is changing at a rapid pace and the thought of overcoming the challenges that face it feels overwhelming, even impossible.

But what if I told you the solution was right beneath your feet?

Kiss the Ground, a groundbreaking documentary available on Netflix September 22nd, explores the key ingredient that could be a game-changer in our fight to heal the planet – soil. The film reveals that we can stabilize Earth’s climate and restore entire ecosystems by regenerating the world’s soils.

How? Well, the idea is that we combat the effects of climate change by getting to the root of the problem, quite literally. Through biosequestration, excess carbon in the atmosphere gets drawn down into plants’ roots, then into the soil where it can be stored. But first, we need to start with regeneration by repairing the damage done to our soils by industrial agriculture.

“If we get the soil right, we can fix a lot of our issues. Healthy soils lead to a healthy plant. Healthy plant, healthy animal, healthy human, healthy water, healthy climate.”

– Ray Archuleta, NRCS Conservation Agronomist, Kiss the Ground (2020)

Kiss the Ground seamlessly interweaves the many factors that impact our environment, including climate, culture, politics, and more. Without sugarcoating the stark realities of the challenges we face, the film uplifts viable solutions that will better the planet for future generations. 

During a time when existential threats crowd our news headlines, Kiss the Ground delivers something often left out of the climate conversation – hope. In many ways, this documentary is just what the doctor ordered for 2020. It gives us a glimpse at the light at the end of the tunnel and provides a clear roadmap for how we will navigate towards a future of bright possibilities.

Most importantly, the documentary introduces audiences to the people working hard to put climate solutions into action. It features expert testimonies by leaders such as Maria Rodale of the Rodale Institute, conservation agronomist Ray Archuleta of the NRCS, and Paul Hawken, bestselling author of Drawdown.

Also featured are many faces you might recognize, including Vampire Diaries actor-turned-activist Ian Somerhalder, supermodel and executive producer Gisele Bundchen, NFL quarterback Tom Brady, and the film’s narrator, Woody Harrelson. 

Through the lens of a well-rounded cast of characters, Kiss the Ground manages to break down complex ideas like climate science and regenerative solutions, in a way that is both informative and deeply personal. For Ryland Engelhart, a producer on the film and founder of the non-profit by the same name, it’s always been personal.

Engelhart grew up on a 20-acre dairy farm in upstate New York, where his bond with nature began. Between running around barefoot in his family’s apple orchard, fishing in the nearby pond, and living off the land, he developed a deep connection to the Earth. Then and now, he believed in the spiritual interconnectedness of all life.

“Nature and humanity are all part of one great organism and each of us has a part to play in caring for this sacred bond.”

– Ryland Engelhart, Co-Founder & Executive Director of Kiss the Ground

In 2013, Engelhart was invited to a conference in New Zealand to participate in a panel where experts explored whether humans could sustain life on Earth. It was here that farming educator Graeme Sait introduced him to regenerative agriculture and the idea that if we could pull enough carbon out of the atmosphere and sequester it in soil, we could stabilize the climate.

“It was like all my chakras aligned,” he says, remembering his moment of clarity about the importance of regenerative agriculture. “I learned something so powerful and poignant that made me want to be a catalyst and an advocate.”

That same year, Engelhart met environmental filmmakers Josh and Rebecca Tickell completely by chance. He was moving into the Tickell’s former home in Venice and got to know the Sundance award-winning filmmakers during the process of their moveout. He asked if they wanted to collaborate on a documentary about the regenerative powers of soil, and they initially turned him down. As it turns out, it’s not easy pitching dirt. 

In the following months, Engelhart continued to gather people in his Venice living room to discuss regenerative agriculture, biosequestration, and climate solutions. These conversations would become the foundation of what is now the non-profit organization, Kiss the Ground. Before the end of the year, the Tickells got back in touch with him to pick up the partnership.

Fast forward to 2020, and Kiss the Ground is an official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival and is available to millions of viewers worldwide through Netflix. Engelhart describes this moment as exciting, joyful, and fulfilling. He hopes that people walk away feeling optimistic about the path forward. He also hopes it provides viewers the same moment of clarity he experienced all those years ago about our symbiotic relationship with nature.

“What we put in our bodies is connected to nature. If we’re putting toxicity into the earth, we’re putting toxicity into our bodies,” he said. “We’re at a very divided place in human history. If we want to heal our bodies and our civilization, we have to start with our soil.”

This film is a labor of love, a manifestation of the decision a young Engelhart made to make his life and work an expression of love (the phrase “Be love” is tattooed onto his forearm in case he ever forgets). 

Kiss the Ground so clearly embodies this mission. It reminds us that the action we take to heal the Earth is an expression of love, for the planet and for each other.

“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

― Rumi

Watch Kiss the Ground, available on Netflix today.