Posted at 10:10 AM on September 8, 2009
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Film
Image detail from the poster for the film "Food Fight"
We love our food. Especially when it's larger than life (dare I say, "Supersized?"). Some of our (ok, my) favorite films include such delectable delights as "Babette's Feast," "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman" and "Chocolat." And of course, foodies everywhere are now extolling the virtues of "Julie & Julia."
But there's a new trend emerging in food films, and it has less to do with a beautiful plate than it does with land rights, the environment, and battling obesity. Tomorrow night and the following Wednesday night, Gardening Matters and Midtown Farmers' Market are cohosting a two-part movie series at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis. The Midtown Farmer's Market website explains the impetus for the event:
Our current food system has had an impact on more than just our personal health. Environmental pollution, sharply attenuated bio-diversity, the ruination of rural economies, and the concentration of wealth and power into the hands of a few are all consequences of the way our food system has been reshaped in order to deliver the cheap and abundant calories upon which Americans have come to rely.
Against the tide, there has been a burgeoning movement to reclaim control over our food supply. Central to that movement have been friends, neighbors, and whole communities that have invested in commonly shared spaces to grow vegetable gardens, create opportunities for urban agricultural enterprise, and establish community farmers markets. In short, many Americans are now looking for innovative models to stimulate the growth of small-scale agriculture while coloring in some of the nation's food deserts with fresher, healthier food.
Tomorrow night the film series begins with "The Garden," in which a group of community gardeners in south central Los Angeles fight to keep the 14 acre piece of land on which they farm.
Next Wednesday the series concludes with "Food Fight," a look at the agricultural industry's methods of providing food at a profit, and how that affects the quality of what Americans are eating.
In addition to the two films in the series, there's also Food, Inc which is already showing at the Riverview. For those people who still haven't had enough of Michael Pollan, this fall the film "Nourish" is expected to get an airing on PBS.
By the way, MPR's Euan Kerr is the local expert on all things cinema, and has some related stories worth checking out. He reported on the recent screening of the movie "Fresh," a movie about the threat industrialized food production poses to food safety and community health. And he interviewed one of the movie's stars, Will Allen, when he came to town. In addition, Kerr has also taken a look at the hard-to-watch documentary "The Cove" which captures an annual dolphin slaughter in Japan (done primarily for the meat) on tragic detail.
Seeing all this promotion for activist films makes me wonder - how affective are movies in changing people's minds? How likely is it that the people the film producers want to reach - need to reach in order to fulfill their agenda - will actually buy a ticket? And if film is not the right medium for the message, what is?
Posted at 6:04 PM on September 8, 2009
by Euan Kerr
Filed under: Books
The simple story behind National Book Award-winner Pete Hautman's new novel is a teenage girl just told him what she wanted to read.
He was with a group of teens, trying to divine their reading tastes.
"And there were all kinds of different answers: 'I like to read girlie books,' or 'I like books about dragons,' or about vampires or whatever," Hautman says.
However he says he was stopped short by a young woman who made a simple statement.
"She said, 'I'm 14 and my life is really boring and I just want to read about a girl like me who goes out and steals a car.' And there was like a flash in my head," Hautman says. "This is bringing the teen reading experience down to its most basic element. They want to know what it is like. They want to know know what everything is like, even things they never expect to do or hope never to do. They want to know what it is like to battle a dragon. And reading brings this to them. So I wanted to write a book that was about that."
And that's how "How to Steal a Car" came to be.
Of course Hautman's tale about Kelleigh, a 15 year old Twin Cities girl is a lot more complicated than a single car boosting.
Hautman takes Kelleigh through a series of adventures over the course of a summer. She learns a lot about car theft, but she also learns a great deal about friends and friendship.
"Friendships that are made in childhood don't need to be based on anything other than proximity," says Hautman. "But as we grow older and a person develops more interests, the interests diverge and it tears friendships apart. And that's part of what Kelleigh is experiencing. She's entering a larger world, but she hasn't found it yet."
Now it's "How to Steal A Car" which is entering a larger world. Hautman says most of the reviews he's seen so far are from adults, as they are the people who get advance copies. Now he's waiting to see what his teen readers will say.
He has a couple of readings coming up, which may attract different readerships. He's be at the Red Balloon bookshop in St Paul on Friday September 18th, and then at "Once Upon a Crime" in Minneapolis on Saturday September 26th.
We'll have him on the air at MPR early next week.