Food writers are often caught between a fork and a plate, a recipe that needs still to be edited and maybe a fancy restaurant launch. Often they forget those who contribute to the world of food in their own right away from camera flashes and covers of food magazines. I am talking about film directors making appetizing movies or thought provoking documentaries about common thus forgotten foods. Ten movies in total were shown during SIFF but I only have words for the three movies I watched.
The Fruit Hunters by Yung Chang (based on Adam Leith Gollner's globetrotting book The Fruit Hunters: a story of Nature, Obsessions, Commerce and Adventure) travels from the fruit aisle of the local grocery store to the crowded and lively fruit markets in Bali, where fruit unlike our waxed and uniform, is fresh and real. The movie follows the fascinating life of rare-fruit detectives and smugglers hunting exotic fruit willing to preserve biodiversity. You can sympathize with Bill Pullman's efforts to establish a community fruit orchard in his Hollywood neighborhood unsuccessfully and share the unrealistic love for the durian fruit. Dr. Campbell's exploration in Asian rainforest searching for the specimen of a mango tree to bring back to the Fairchild Botanic Garden in Miami is both remarkable and entertaining. Viewers may be puzzled with the obsessed fruit hunters but after this movie, they will celebrate a reinvented relationship with fruit.
In Haute Cuisine, director Christian Vincent features Hortense Laborie in the kitchen of Palais de l'Élysée, as a personal chef for the former French President, François Mitterrand. Sexism, demanding doctors and frugal management are elements of Laborie's life and aspects of a movie that describes more the food of politicians than the politics of food. With close-ups on mouthwatering dishes and wines alike, the protagonist ends up cooking in the Antarctic Research Station but her gastronomic skills together with her sensitive heart win the viewers over.
In the Mussels in Love director W.J.A. Kuijfhout flies to Netherlands to defend mussels as an erotic shellfish. In a story about mussel procreation, a top Dutch chef, a gynecologist, a biologist and numerous mussel farmers come all together to discuss the environmental dangers of sea bed farming, the mussel glue and its pretty looks on the plate. Mainly for mussel aficionados, the movie makes irresistible a plate of the Belgian national dish Moules Frites.
Somm and Red Obsession are both movies about wine. Director Jason Wise in Somm follows four candidates for the title of the master sommelier, the highest recognition a wine professional can achieve. The exam is known as one of the lowest pass rates in the world. Less than 200 people in the world have ever earned the title Master Sommelier. Warwick Ross's Red Obsession takes viewers from France's Bordeaux regions to China where wealthy Oenophiles developed a taste for expensive Bordeaux. The movie describes the conflicts between Westerner and Eastern Bordeaux collectors and what drives its price to skyrocketing levels.
Here is a list of all food movies shown in this year's festival: