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Two superb documentaries with riveting food-related sequences

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Two superb documentaries with riveting food-related sequences

RST | Nov 13, 2002 05:10 PM

I was at DOC last Sunday and saw Frederick Wiseman's great piece of cinema verite "Belfast, Maine". This is not a food film at all: rather, it's a kind of slow, moving revelation of the humdrum daily life of an apparently unremarkable all-American little fishing town. But through its four hours, there were several long "real-time" sequences focusing on the making and preparation of food. For instance, there was a scene of a baker making doughnuts at the crack of dawn (I never knew until I saw this how those holes come about ;)), a scene at a salmon-smoking plant, a scene at a sardine-canning factory, a scene following the cooking of good hearty food at a kind of half-way house...

Someday, someone should dedicate such a work to the documenting of our city's everyday foodways. I can just imagine a scene of our Iraqis sewing up each individual little bag of tripe to make pacha, Oaxacans grinding spices for the preparation of mole, a scene at Filbert's root beer plant, a scene at our Serbian sausage smokehouses etc.

Anyway, tonight, BLOCK CINEMA up at NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY (EVANSTON) will be showing AGNES VARDA's "LES GLANEURS ET LA GLANEUSE" ("The Gleaners and I") at 7:30 p.m. It's free and Jonathan Rosenbaum (Reader film critic) will be doing the Q&A afterwards. (Block Cinema is at Block Museum in the campus).

Once again, this is not exactly a film exclusively devoted to food. But there are several absolutely amazing sequences that should prove riveting to food-lovers and specially those who "follow" French cuisine/the French "scene". There is a sequence on oyster-gleaners at Noirmoutier, a sequence shot in the market of Belleville in Paris (in my opinion the "chowhoundeyest" market in Paris), a scene of ambulatory "gypsies" gleaning grapes after the harvest in Southern France, a scene showing the brilliant young Michelin two-star Edouard Loubet (of Le Moulin de Lourmarin; he's the most prominent student of Veyrat) out foraging for wild herbs...

I got off early and will attend this screening tonight to see this remarkable film again. Say hi to me if you think you know who I am ;)

RST

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