A Documentary Film in the Baking
How did Iowa become synonymous with pie? Why are Iowans and outsiders alike so obsessed with it? And what lengths will people go to for a slice? More importantly, how can pie unite us? Pie is nonpartisan, symbolizing kindness, comfort, generosity, and unity—all the things we need more of right now—making “PIEOWA” a call to action to keep the “nice” in “Iowa Nice.” Or “Pieowa nice.”
From Amish bakers barefoot in the kitchen using propane ovens to bake pie, to church ladies cranking out pies in rural church basements, from nostalgic diners to farmers markets, from generations old to young, to the fierce pie competitions of the Iowa State Fair, pie is woven into Iowa’s cultural fabric. There’s even a 500-mile bike ride across the state where people come from all over the world just so they can eat pie every day!
Producer/director of PIEOWA Beth Howard is the author of three pie-themed books and the former (and final) resident of the American Gothic House where she ran the Pitchfork Pie Stand. She will take us on a mouth-watering tour of her native state to explore pies of all kinds, meet the pie makers, learn the history of the “pieoneers” who brought it to the Midwest, its importance to Iowans, and why it rivals corn and hogs as an iconic part of Iowa’s identity. Howard has experienced first-hand the influence of this association as she once got hired as a pie baker in Malibu, California. When asked “What are your qualifications?” she answered, “I’m from Iowa,” and got the job! In the documentary, Howard will expand on the themes of her TEDx talk, in which she espouses pie’s healing powers, how pie can build community and how it can make the world a better place.
UPDATE OCTOBER 13, 2023:
We’re almost done with the filming phase of the documentary! It’s been a fun (and hot) summer adventure. We sweated our butts off during RAGBRAI, the Des Moines Register’s annual bike ride across Iowa, a pie-lover’s mecca, and met so many great people from all over the world. Kudos to those who rode the entire 500 miles! We ate our way through the Iowa State Fair while filming the pie competitions, as well as the cow pie throwing and pie eating contests.
We’ve driven over 4,000 miles, interviewing pie shop owners, fruit growers, and pie bakers of all ages and abilities. Just this week I filmed a 95-year-old friend making a sour cream raisin pie. We still have more stories to cover, including the ultimate pie holiday: Thanksgiving. I’ve started the search for a film editor, and more funds. If you have any leads for either, please get in touch.
It’s not too late to suggest or contribute your pie stories so please contact me if you have one to share.
Are you serving pie at your wedding?
Do you know any pie bakers with a unique story? Someone who makes the world a better place through pie?
Do you want to submit a video that might be included in the film? Could you help fund the production or support it with in-kind offerings?
Please get in touch! [email protected]