Live from the 62nd San Sebastián International Film Festival!
I have been looking forward to this event all summer, especially the Culinary Zinema section, featuring films about food, gastronomy, chefs … you get it. And the festival just happens to be in the most beautiful location. Imagine if you took Paris, with its wide sidewalks and cream-colored buildings and plopped it down next to the Cantabrian Sea – that’s San Sebastián.
I’m working on a screenplay based on my personal kitchen experiences. (Huh? I know – naive, maybe delusional, but let’s roll with it). More and better food films are being made (who hasn’t seen Jiro making sushi on Netflix?) and I think it’s a genre that will only continue to grow … so my goal in coming here was to see how culinary films are looking these days – how they integrate stories and food images and if they can manage to do so without being overly saccharin.
We saw Buscando a Gastón (searching for Gastón) yesterday, a documentary about the rise to fame of the superstar Peruvian chef, Gastón Acurio. The film also shows how he works to give back to his community, both by helping young Peruvians with limited resources pursue culinary educations and working for the rights and greater recognition of small food producers – the artisanal fisherman and the women quinoa harvesters (who wear the traditional full, hot pink skirts and bowler hats while they work). There’s Peruvian music and culture and, of course, lots of food porn. I cried three times (could have been in part due to tapas and wine hangover from the previous night, but I was also genuinely moved).
We also saw “Cooking History,” another culinary documentary but with a totally different angle – interviews with military cooks from European countries. It sounds like it could be a dry film, but it was really well done. The director, Peter Kerekes, chose creative ways to stage stories from World War II, the French-Algerian War of Independence, the Hungarian uprising, the ongoing Serbian-Croatian conflict and the sinking of the Hai submarine in the North Sea. And he included humor but never downplayed the realities of war.
Feeling grateful for having the time and opportunity to be here … and I had to share some scenes from the festival. Vamos!