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There's Nothing Like a Meal with that Gourmet Touch
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

This year’s Berlinale Talent Campus presented a new theme this year: Food and Film. The opening film was a perfect choice. The Danish film Babette’s Feast (Academy Award Winner of Best Foreign Film in 1987) directed by Gabriel Axel celebrated a visual culinary feast. The story contrasts a former Parisian chef (Babette) with two sisters of a Lutheran minister who live quiet, simple but spiritual lives and hold together a small Christian community. She serves the two sisters dutifully but quietly, introducing them to her way of life, a life where food plays an important role. Upon winning the lottery, Babette asks the sisters for permission to prepare a feast to celebrate. At first they fear this is the work of the devil and tell their community to eat, but not taste, the food. The wonderful sensuous meal wins over all anxieties of the guests and in the last effect is a harmonious spiritual setting of content people who are open and tolerant.

Eat Drink Man Woman Directed by Ang Lee (1994) shows the Chinese way of cooking. It opens up with a senior chef trying to cook for his three daughters, a ritual that is about to change. This film illustrates the human desire for love and food while telling a story of how modern day life style changes the relationships and expectations in this once traditional Chinese family. This film makes you want to take a cooking course by the chef and then sit down and indulge in this exotic and appetizing meal.

Bella Martha directed by Sandra Nettlebeck of Hamburg (2001) tells a story of a master chef (Martha Gedeck), a single woman who has everything under control until she finds her self as the caretaker of her niece Lina (Maxime Foest). She then becomes suspicious that the new Italian chef is trying to take over her kitchen but that is only the beginning of the romance. The story is funny and romantic. This movie definitely should be seen with a good glass of wine.

Other films on the subject of food that were shown and should be checked out are: Mondovino by Director Jonathan Nossitier which was produced in 2004 and is a documentary on the globalization of the wine industry in different wine regions in the world; Be with Me from Singapore director Eric Khoo, which is a series of stories interwoven on the theme of love hope and destiny; and Harvest directed by French director Marcel Pagnol which is a melodrama from 1937 showing a couple’s devotion to the land. All these films wonderfully illustrate the power of food and film. So, go enjoy a great meal with a good film.

Other food films to sample:
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover
Fried Green Tomatoes
Like Water for Chocolate
Mystic Pizza
Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?