The first annual FoodxFilm Festival, created by Guild of Future Architects, in association with The Rockefeller Foundation and in support of the UN Food Systems Summit, Good Food For All and the World Food Forum, exists to shine a light on global stories related to food systems and the future of food. Showcasing a globally curated program of films, panels and events, the Festival will be held virtually over three days: September 26, October 2 & October 3.
The 2021 FoodxFilm Festival aims to shine a spotlight on the food system narrative, utilizing film as a vehicle for story and poses the question: what does a food future reimagined mean for you? The festival exists to probe this question through film, panels & events.
Christopher Hibma, Festival Director, says, “For the inaugural edition of the Festival, our curatorial aim was to explore a range of international stories focused on the present and future of food and food systems. This new festival harnesses the power of film to reveal the nuances of these narratives and instill hope for our imagined future. The festival also creates a unique opportunity to merge two worlds that results in narrative change: one where artistic expression is its intention and one where food systems transformation is its chief work.”
Additionally, Producing Director Lauren Ruffin says, “It’s been a pleasure for our team to work on a project that allows us to bring the full scope of our innovative and technical capabilities to bear. We’re excited to unveil bespoke digital environments for the festival, which is well aligned with the festival’s ethos of providing a fun and joyful experience for our audience.”
“The vision of a film festival celebrating the diversity, importance, and future of food emerged from the commitment we’ve made to help everyone everywhere become protagonists in their own food future,” says Sara Farley, Managing Director of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Food Team. “That means visualizing, discussing, probing, challenging and celebrating the structure and stories about our food systems, and nothing invites that kind of inquiry like film.”
The independent curatorial team consisted of Hussain Currimbhoy (Film Curator), Christopher Hibma (Festival Director) and Rasha Salti (Film Curator). Over the Summer of 2021 the curatorial team cast the global net wide to envelop the breadth of films and games that were made both slightly before and during the pandemic. They explored a universe of cultures through food and returned with a collection of some of the most engaging food-themed stories made by groundbreaking artists.
The films selected for the 2021 FoodxFilm Festival frame the global food conversation around individual efforts and collective enlightenment.
See the announced line up of films below:
DAY ONE – September 26
Entering the universe of film & food
OPENING FILM: Gather
Director: Sanjay Rawal
US / Documentary / 2020 / 74 minutes / English
Subtitles available in Spanish & French
#indigenous #forage #farming #foodsovereignty
Gather is an intimate portrait of the growing movement amongst Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political, and cultural identities through food sovereignty, while battling the trauma of centuries of genocide.
Gather follows Nephi Craig, a chef from the White Mountain Apache Nation (Arizona), opening an indigenous café as a nutritional recovery clinic; Elsie Dubray, a young scientist from the Cheyenne River Sioux Nation (South Dakota), conducting landmark studies on bison; and the Ancestral Guard, a group of environmental activists from the Yurok Nation (Northern California) trying to save the Klamath river.
Sanjay Rawal spent 15 years working on human rights campaigns globally—for the US government, foundations, philanthropists, and local governments. Sanjay’s first feature documentary Food Chains (2014) was produced by Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser with narration by Forest Whitaker.
The film won numerous awards, was released theatrically in 40 cities by Screen Media and was acquired by Netflix. Sanjay’s second effort took a sharp turn into non-traditional filmmaking. Applying narrative cinematic technique, Sanjay directed a sweeping expedition film. 3100: Run And Become was released theatrically in the US in 20 markets in 2018. Gather is his 3rd film. Sanjay’s work has been supported by Ford, Bertha, BritDoc, Fledgling, 11th Hour Project, NoVo, and others.
FILM: The Taste of Desire
Director: Willemiek Kluijfhout
Netherlands / Documentary / 2021 / 87 minutes / English
#oysters #desire #global #fulfillment #burlesque #pearl
The oyster takes us on a poetic philosophical trip around the world, in which protagonists share their ambitions, desires and existential fears. A beautiful burlesque dancer in New York, struggling between motherhood and shining with her oyster act on stage, two Michelin chefs in France, who try to overcome the ego of the chef, a young woman in Sweden that made the radical decision to be an oyster diver, the pearl maker in Japan fighting the perfect image and a terminally ill English psychologist who hopes to finish his ultimate book about oysters.
The oyster is a metaphor that connects them and symbolizes desire. Desires that both drive and feed life’s frustrations, infinite and unsatisfying. This documentary explores humanity’s relationship to nature – and the lengths we take to satisfy our own desires. For how do you deal with desires that are the main motive in our existence, but at the same time never (fully) fulfilled?
Amsterdam-based Willemiek Kluijfhout has directed several highly acclaimed documentaries and award winning fiction-shorts. She is both a graduate of the Dutch Film Academy and earned a masters in the philosophy of Art and Culture. Her feature length documentary Sergio Herman, Fucking Perfect, premiered at the Berlinale 2015.
It received a Crystal Film Award and a special mention as best director at the Seattle International Film Festival. As a producer Willemiek was involved in the Golden Palm nominated short Missing by Jochem de Vries (CANNES 2009). She was an advisor for the Netherlands Filmfund for documentaries from 2004 – 2008. Since 2010 also lectures at the Audio-visual Design Department at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam.
DAY TWO – October 2
Creativity repairs our damaged world
FILM: A Reckoning in Boston
Director: James Rutenbeck
US / Documentary / 2021 / 83 minutes / English
#racialjustice #garden #gentrification #boston
Kafi Dixon and Carl Chandler enrolled in a rigorous night course in the humanities at a community center in their Boston neighborhood of Dorchester. Kafi, 44, sharp, witty and restless, dropped out of school at 15. She had her first baby a year later and two more soon after. Carl, 65, who lives on a small pension and disability payment in one of Boston’s most dangerous neighborhoods, began the class with a keen interest in learning but with little faith in educational institutions. White suburban filmmaker James Rutenbeck came to Dorchester to document the students’ engagement with the Clemente Course in the Humanities.
The Clemente Course is taught in thirty-four sites across the US—to those who have experienced homelessness, have transitioned out of incarceration, or have faced barriers to a college education. The Clemente mission is to foster critical thinking through deep engagement with history, literature, philosophy, and art history. Clemente students, its proponents assert, become fuller and freer citizens.
But over the duration of making this film, James is forced to come to terms with a flawed film premise and his own complicity in racist structures. As he spends time with Carl and Kafi, he’s awakened to the violence, racism, and gentrification that threaten his collaborators’ very place in the city.
Troubled by his failure to bring the film together, Rutenbeck spends more time listening than filming and enlists Kafi and Carl as collaborators/producers with a share in the film revenues. Five years on, despite many obstacles, Kafi and Carl arrive at surprising new places in their lives, and following their lead, James does too.
James Rutenbeck’s nonfiction films have screened at various forums including Cinema du Reel, Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, and Flaherty Film Seminar. James is a two-time recipient of the Alfred I. du Pont Columbia Journalism Award for his work as producer of the PBS series, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? (2008), about health disparities in the U.S. and Class of ’27 (2016), which he executive produced, directed and edited. Class of ’27, which explores the lives of young children in rural America, is streaming as an Editor’s Pick at The Atlantic.
The Sundance Documentary Fund, LEF Moving Image Fund, Southern Humanities Media Fund, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have supported his film work.
FILM: You Think the Earth is a Dead Thing
Director: Florence Lazar
France, Martinique / Documentary / 2019 / 70 minutes / French, Creole
Subtitles available in English
#chlordecone #colonialism #bananas #martinique #artistfilm
Known in Creole as rimèd razie, or hedge remedies, the centuries-old traditions of using medicinal wild herbs and plants in Martinique persist until today. They represent one of several strategies that the island residents resort to in order to thwart the ravages from the widespread use of pesticides in the monoculture of banana plantations. As the film visits local farmers on their small plots and in their gardens, they generously share wisdom and knowledge transmitted from their ancestors, of safeguarding biodiversity and indigenous seeds. Visually captivating, You Think the Earth Is a Dead Thing invites a vital meditation on decolonizing agricultural practices.
Florence Lazar is a French filmmaker and visual artist. For the past 20 years, her videos, photographs, and art installations have been shown in museums and contemporary art centers in France and abroad. Historical inquiry and historical transmission are the principal vectors of her work. Documentary cinema holds a prominent place in Lazar’s artistic practice, which relies on extensive periods of research and collaboration. Her films often construct narratives in places that are in crisis, in which subjective accounts are presented from a historical perspective.
FILM: Shorts Program
Director: Elizabeth Lo
US / Documentary / 2016 / 9 minutes / English
#buffalo #indigenous #shortdoc
A family of Ponderai Native Americans embark on a controversial journey through Yellowstone to exercise their treaty hunting rights. Bisonhead glimpses into the continued marginalization of indigenous life in the American West, and challenges our expectations of what it means to assert a tribal heritage in the modern world.
Director: Isla Badenoch
UK / Documentary / 2021 / 14 minutes / English
#eels #fishermen #britain #futurefood
Shot over a moonlit night, The Elvermen is an atmospheric film that reveals the last of a hidden community hunting an endangered fish. As the sun sets on the banks of the River Severn on the outskirts of an impoverished city in the UK, a group of men gather in a race to catch a vanishing creature; the elusive elver. After a day working in a print factory in Gloucester, Dave drives to the moonlit banks of the River Severn to hunt for an elusive fish, the rare elver (baby-eel), supposedly worth more than their weight in gold.
Over the course of a night we experience the mysterious world of the Elvermen: the addictive gamble and stake-out amongst fathers, sons, brothers and friends. Phone calls of frustration and joy echo down a river lit by head torches. The Elvermen shows how a rite of passage has changed into a fight for values: of tradition, community, and a connection to nature in an environment of impending change.
Director: Thomas Lennon
US / Documentary / 2017 / 40 minutes / English
#formerlyincarcerated #frenchcuisine #cleveland #restaurant
A film about reentry, second chances, and the healing power of food. What does it take to build a world-class French restaurant? What if the staff is almost entirely men and women just out of prison? What if most have never cooked or served before, and have barely two months to learn their trade? Knife Skills follows the hectic launch of Edwins restaurant in Cleveland. In this improbable setting, with its mouth-watering dishes and its arcane French vocabulary, we discover the challenges of men and women finding their way after their release.
We come to know three trainees intimately, as well as the restaurant’s founder, who is himself haunted by his time in jail. These men and women all have something to prove, and all struggle to launch new lives, an endeavor as pressured and perilous as the ambitious restaurant launch of which they are a part.
FILM: When Tomatoes Met Wagner
Director: Marianna Economou
Greece / Documentary / 2019 / 72 minutes / Greek, French, English
Subtitles available in English, French, Italian & Portuguese
#farming #music #tomatoes #greece #independentfood
Do tomatoes taste better when they listen to the music of Richard Wagner? Elias, a small farming village in central Greece, is dying out. But two cousins team up with the village grannies to cultivate tomatoes. With a little help from Wagner’s music, the villagers export their little jars with organic tomato recipes across the world.
The film follows the protagonists of this unlikely story, as they struggle to make their dream come true. Humorous and bittersweet, this surreal story speaks to us about the importance of reinventing oneself in times of crisis and the power of human relationships. A bittersweet story of two ingenious Greek cousins who defy industrial farming by cultivating organic tomatoes sensitive to Wagner‘s music.
Marianna Economou studied anthropology, photojournalism and film production in London. Since 2000, she has directed and produced documentary series and independent films of Greek production and co-productions with European broadcasters such as the BBC, ARTE and YLE. She has received awards for The School, My Place in the Dance, Please Listen to Me, Bells, Threads And Miracles, Twelve Neighbours, Food for Love and The Longest Run which was nominated for the European Film Awards 2016. The Longest Run also won the VER.DI award at Dok Leipzig.
DAY THREE – October 3
Acknowledging our past to design our future
FILM: Wild Relatives
Director: Jumana Manna
Palestine / Documentary / 2018 / 64 minutes / Arabic, English
Subtitles available in English
#seeds #syria #lebanon #arctic #palestine #futurefood
As the Syrian revolution devolved into a blood-drenched armed conflict, an agricultural seed bank was forced to relocate from Aleppo to Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley in 2012. The process of rebuilding their collection using back-up seeds from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, located in Norway, right beneath the Arctic permafrost, began.
Traveling between Lebanon and Norway, Wild Relatives follows the exchange patiently, as a series of encounters unfold a matrix of human and non-human lives between these two distant spots of the earth. It captures the articulation between this large-scale international initiative and its local implementation in the Bekaa Valley, carried out primarily by young migrant women.
The meditative pace patiently teases out tensions between state and individual, industrial and organic approaches to seed saving, climate change and biodiversity, witnessed through the journey of these seeds.
Jumana Manna is a Palestinian artist working primarily with film and sculpture. Her work explores how power is articulated through relationships, often focusing on the body and materiality in relation to narratives of state building, and histories of place.
She has participated in multiple festivals and exhibitions, including the Viennale International Film Festival, BAFICI, IFFR Rotterdam, Tate Modern, Marrakech Biennale 6 and The Nordic Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale. Her documentary feature Wild Relatives is the winner of CPH:DOX New Visions Award, Sheffield Doc Environmental Film Award, DokFest Kosovo Green Dox Award and Palestine Cinema Days Sunbird Award.
CLOSING SERIES: The Next Thing You Eat
Director: Morgan Neville
US / Episodic Series / 2021 / 3 episodes (32 mins each) / English
US Premiere; Presented by Hulu
#cellbasedprotein #pandemic #restaurant #futureoffood
From chef David Chang and Academy Award–winning documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville, The Next Thing You Eat is a six-episode docu-series that explores the seismic changes happening all around us and what they mean for the way we’ll eat in the future. The Festival premieres for the US the three episodes including Sushi, Restaurants and 2050. Chang and a diverse cast of characters dive headfirst into what lies ahead, including everything from robots, to lab-grown fish, to insect farms, to artificial intelligence calling all the shots.
David Chang is the chef and founder of Momofuku. Since opening his first restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar, in 2004, he has received six James Beard Awards, and has been recognized as GQ’s Man of the Year and a Time 100 honoree. In 2018, David formed Majordomo Media. He is the host of The Dave Chang Show podcast and two Netflix original documentary series, Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner and Ugly Delicious. His cookbook, Momofuku, and memoir, Eat A Peach, are both New York Times bestsellers.
The FoodxFilm Festival is completely free of charge to a global audience. Register for Festival Passes at any time either before or during the Festival for access to all screenings, panels & events. Individual tickets are not needed for any part of the Festival Program.
For information about the Festival attendance and registration, visit www.foodxfilmfestival.org
The FoodxFilm Festival aims to address the future of food both in terms of scarcity and abundance with an eye toward building sustainability, fairness and systems transformation. Food is the great messenger, an ancient identifier, an ever-arching bridge from the past to the future. Today, the story of food commands attention, and film is a powerful vehicle for story. Story communicates knowledge, understanding of the world, prescribes behavior and imagines the future. What does a food future reimagined mean for you? The 2021 FoodxFilm Festival exists to probe this question through film, panels & events that will provoke your thoughts about food.
For more information, visit www.foodxfilmfestival.org.
UN Food Systems Summit
In 2021, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will convene a Food Systems Summit to raise global awareness and land global commitments and actions that transform food systems to resolve not only hunger, but to reduce diet-related disease and heal the planet. The Secretary General is calling for collective action of all citizens to radically change the way we produce, process, and consume food.
Good Food For All
The future of the world depends on good food. It’s that simple. Food is bigger than what is on your plate; it’s science, it’s culture, it’s LOVE. Good food keeps us healthy. It helps us reach our potential. It strengthens our communities, powers our economies, and protects our planet.
World Food Forum – Powered by Global Youth
The WFF is an independent global network of partners led by and created for youth. It aims to spark a global movement to transform our agri-food systems and achieve the SDGs. Aligning with the core principles of the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit, the WFF serves as an ongoing platform to engage youth, galvanize action and identify solutions to the growing challenges facing our agri-food systems.
Videos for Change
Videos for Change empowers youth aged 13-18 to make one-minute videos to build empathy and inspire action on social issues they’re passionate about. With the support of The Rockefeller Foundation, a Global Competition was launched asking teenagers worldwide to share stories of how food systems affect them, their communities, and the planet.
The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy built on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation to enable individuals, families, and communities to flourish. We work to promote the well-being of humanity and make opportunity universal. Our focus is on scaling renewable energy for all, stimulating economic mobility, and ensuring equitable access to healthy and nutritious food. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.
Guild of Future Architects
The Guild of Future Architects (GoFA) is a home, refuge, and resource for people who are collaboratively shaping a kind, just, and inclusive world. Launched in July 2019 by Sharon Chang, the Guild drives the emerging field of future architecture, which builds entrepreneurial and collective projects designed to animate more enlightened cultural, social, economic, and political systems.