My first conscious memory of food in movies was when the dogs’ lips met in Disney’s animated Lady and the Tramp. Lovers have duplicated the spaghetti and meatballs scene a million times since it was released 60 years ago. I was fascinated and also squirmed when I saw it.
Maybe my Sicilian heritage is showing because my top food-focused movie is Big Night, a raucous vignette set in an Italian restaurant. That list would also have to include Babette’s Feast; Eat Drink Man Woman; the recent Chef; and the astonishing animated Ratatouille.
There are many other fine food scenes in other films, including the breakfast gathering in Moonstruck, the pie-related moments in Michael and Waitress, and the cooking and life lessons in Goodfellas and The Godfather series, including the immortal line: “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”
I came to realize that great food films like good food literature are first and foremost about people. Through the language and rituals of chopping and sipping, we really are talking about the big scary stuff: love, death, sex and relationships.
Those relationships and some artisan eats are on the bill of fare at the fourth annual Flatirons Food Film Festival (FFFF), opening Oct. 20 in Boulder. The five-day event showcases international dramas, comedies and documentaries that celebrate the pleasure and pain of cooking, shopping, eating, dining and drinking. Films and events take place in the Canyon Theater at the Boulder Public Library, at eTown Hall and at CU’s Muenzinger Auditorium. FFFF is the only major food film festival in Colorado and the region.
In the interest of transparency, I am a friend of the festival and the person who named the event several years ago. I liked the alliteration. I’m excited about the festival because it does something that happens too rarely: a coming together of local and national foodies, chefs, bakers and experts immersed in the culinary issues of our time. For tickets and a complete schedule of films and special festival food events, visit: flatironsfoodfilmfest.org.
Among the highlights of the five-day gathering:
Thursday, Oct. 20
The festival opens at 7:30 p.m. at the Boulder Public Library (BPL) with Dough, a drama about a struggling old Jewish baker in Britain who finds increased sales when his young Muslim apprentice drops cannabis in the dough. Introduced by Joshua Pollack of Rosenberg Bagels and Delicatessen.
Friday, Oct. 21
Chefs Night at eTown Hall (7:30 p.m.) features a series of short films about a restaurant, a curious cannabis dinner, Asia’s coolest cocktail bar and oysters. Bryan Dayton (OAK | at fourteenth), Hosea Rosenberg (Blackbelly) and chef Theo Adley will talk about the films.
Saturday, Oct. 22
Saturday starts with some tasty free (with registration) events for kids, a Children’s Tour of the Boulder Farmers Market at 9:30 a.m. and a screening of Food Films for Kids at 10:45 a.m. (BPL). Tim Brod (Highland Honey) and Dan Hayward (Savory Spice Shop) are the speakers.
If you’ve ever enjoyed a kiwi fruit you can largely thank one woman: Frieda Kaplan. The documentary Fear No Fruit (1:30 p.m., BPL) details how Kaplan introduced over 200 exotic produce items and changed how we look at food. Alfalfa’s Market co-founder Hass Hassan will introduce the film.
Bobby Stuckey of Frasca Food and Wine introduces Somm: Into the Bottle (4 p.m., BPL), a documentary in which sommeliers and winemakers try to convey the magic and mystery of great wines.
Saturday’s main event is City of Gold (7:15 p.m, BPL), which profiles Pulitzer Prize-winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold of the Los Angeles Times. For almost eight years I was the dining critic of the Rocky Mountain News and it remains one of the oddest jobs in the world. Gold will be there to talk about the film, his craft and food.
Sunday, Oct. 23
Sunday’s program focuses on the issue of food waste with two documentaries plus discussions and snacks crafted from food waste by chefs.
Just Eat It (noon, CU Boulder) is the Inconvenient Truth of food waste depicting how roughly 50 percent of America’s food ends up as trash.
Theater of Life (2 p.m., CU Boulder) documents a Milan soup kitchen created by renowned chef Massimo Bottura and staffed by some of the world’s best chefs including Ferran Adria and Alain Ducasse. Speakers include Lindsey Loberg (Boulder Food Rescue), Peter Svatek (Theater of Life director) and Philip Taylor (Mad Agriculture). Intermission snacks made from waste will be prepared by chefs Matthew Collier of Seeds Library Café and Joshua Pollack of Rosenberg Bagels and Delicatessen.
Monday, Oct. 24
Two short films about sustainable seafood will screen Monday at a Bristol Bay sockeye salmon dinner at Boulder’s Basta with chefs Kelly Whitaker, who will be joined by Rosenberg’s Bagels owner Joshua Pollack and Arcana chef Kyle Mendenhall. 303-997-8775.
LOCAL FOOD NEWS
I’ll be the chief judge when Alfalfa’s Market hosts an organic pie contest on Saturday morning at the Boulder store. Stop by and say “Hi!” Afterwards, the contest pies will be sold for a $1 (or more) donation to Growing Gardens. alfalfasmarket.com … Learn to make pies Nov. 22 at Boulder’s Food Lab. foodlabboulder.com. … Kalita Grill Greek Cafe has opened at 2426 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, former site of Big City Burrito. … Fast casual Zoës Kitchen is open at 1695 29th St. in Boulder, serving Mediterranean fare including a baked feta appetizer and a rosemary ham and mozzarella piadina.
Taste of the Week
I do appreciate the chicken, sausage, brisket and burnt ends at Louisville’s Lulu’s BBQ. Recently, I changed it up and tried the smoked firm tofu which shows off the Texas white oak smoke flavor in a very pure way. It’s a perfect canvas for various barbecue sauces and the house garnish: minced sport peppers, onions and pickles.
Words to Chew On
“To eat good food is to be close to God.” — From the film Big Night.
John Lehndorff is hosting a special one-hour edition of Radio Nibbles at 8:30 a.m. today on on KGNU (88.5 FM, 1390 AM, kgnu.org). Lehndorff’s “Zen and the Art of Pie” workshop is Sunday at the Boulder Book Store. E-mail comments to: email@example.com.