Side Dishes: Vermont International Film Fest serves up food series
When the Vermont International Film Festival board of directors decided that this year’s event would be organized thematically, filmmaker Orly Yadin knew which subject she wanted to spotlight. “Through food, you can really talk about anything,” she says. “It’s like talking about air or water. You can talk about the fun side, the aesthetic pleasure. You can talk about politics, ecology — everything, really.”
The six films selected are indeed diverse, and accompanied by events to enhance the sensory experience. Slow Food Vermont, which hosts its own movie nights with related meals, has organized a tasting on opening night, October 21. It precedes Palace 9 cinema’s showing of the Peruvian film Cooking Up Dreams , an event sponsored by A Single Pebble . Slow Food also helps whet palates for Jiro Dreams of Sushi , which screens at FlynnSpace on October 24.
Those looking for more than foodie foreplay with their films will find it at Essex Cinemas. On October 22, Arnd Sievers and Shawn Calley of Amuse at the Essex culinary Resort & Spa  will speak on avant-garde cuisine before a showing of El Bulli: Cooking in Progress , a documentary about the groundbreaking Spanish restaurant. Afterward, guests will repair to Amuse, where they’ll taste the chefs’ five-course tribute to the recently closed eatery. On October 29, a similar dinner, this one at Rustico’s , follows Dish: Women, Waitressing & the Art of Service . That film profiles women in the food business, including some “serveuses sexy” in Montréal .
Other films are more political. Enjoy Your Meal: How Food Changes the World, from the Netherlands, follows the farm-to-plate journey of one exquisite restaurant meal. “You’re kind of sucked into appreciating a beautiful meal,” says Yadin. “What I liked about it is, it doesn’t lecture to you. Just by showing stuff, it makes you think twice about buying a lot of foreign imports.” Food Stamped, showing at North End Studios and Palace 9, follows a couple as they try to eat a healthy diet for $1 a meal.
All films screen at least twice, many in several locations. Check out vtiff.org for a full schedule.