Sunday, September 30, 2007

film two

With a little down time between films and a trip across town from one cinema to the other, db and I took in a farmers market. I've been seeking out farmer's markets a lot lately, wanting to buy food as directly as possible thus avoiding the grocery basket or the Whole Foods type experience that will package you a feel-good-about-yourself-for-shopping-here kind of experience. Why is it that Whole Foods always seems to open up in the wealthier neighbourhoods of a town? I think I know why and I know I want no part of it. (I'm really itching to talk about The Omnivore's Dilemma but again I'm waiting until I give my review for the autumnal readers blog.)

So the market was a pleasant interlude.
We picked up these lovely tomatoes. db put some on our pizza last night, but more on that later. There were lots of heirloom tomato varieties at this market and all kinds of food from b.c. I found a vegan bakeshop stall and bought a toffee nut square that was divine.

Back on the bus we crossed town to the next theatre and got a bite to eat. I wanted to be well fed for the next film since it would be featuring food.

How To Cook Your Life (2007, dir. Doris Doerrie) is also a documentary that features the Zen priest and cook Edward Espe Brown. His soft but direct humor and passion for food make this a fun film to watch. Not only do we get his cooking lessons, but we are also privy to his teachings through stories about his own journey with food and his time as a student of zen buddhism.

The approach to food in the film is based on Master Dogen who "wrote about the necessity of treating food as if it was as valuable as your eyesight." (from the VIFF guide) Starting with teaching students how to prepare yeast for breadmaking, the film sets a tone of light humor that is sustained throughout without turning this into the realm of the absurd.

While the film is set around Edward Espe Brown and his story, the camera does venture out into San Francisco and the everyday practice of people who try to share that appreciation of food with those who are the have-nots of society. We meet a woman who hasn't been to a grocery store in years, collecting her food from the backs of supermarkets and foraging berries from bushes, figs from trees etc. We also meet a collective who prepare vegetarian meals and take them to the most "undesirable" part of town and distribute the food to those who don't make it to the soup kitchens, the physically disabled and as one man puts it "the guy with the needle in his arm."

Doerrie doesn't keep us for long is this direction and fades in to another moment with Brown and his students. Brown focuses on the ingredients and the importance of cooking and being participatory in the preparation of food. You're not just cooking "you're working on yourself, you're working on other people."

Clearly what comes through is a celebration of food, of the type of food that does not come in a pre-packaged box or bag, but is raw ingredients that come together to create something new to be shared and enjoyed.

I left the film and couldn't wait to get home and make pizza with db. We made a fantastic pizza together and when I was chopping the peppers, I chopped the peppers.

I understand it will be released in the fall so once again the larger cities will probably get the screenings. Try and find this one if you can.

You can watch the trailer here.

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