Update March 4: Grand prize honors went to Homeward by Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine of The Perennial Plate. Their film features farmers in Hidalgo, Mexico who created a thriving cooperative producing organic oregano that keeps their community together. View it below. A 1st place price went to Green Bronx Machine, which also netted the "People's Choice" award, for its depiction of the positive role school gardens have played in one of the poorest congressional districts in America. Runners up include A Greene Generation and Who Keeps the Beekeepers. Watch all these short films below.
On my blog Lettuce Eat Kale, my most popular post is a top 10 list of documentary food films. Four years since it went live, readers are still weighing in on the merits of various food flicks and their ability to convey critical messages about the current food system in the United States in an informative, cinematic, and engaging way. In the five years I've covered the food beat, I've reported on numerous food films from Food, Inc. to Food Stamped and not a week goes by without a filmmaker reaching out about their movie covering the food movement. (This week's email comes courtesy of the good folks behind Growing Cities, which documents the urban farming renaissance around the country.) For Bay Area Bites alone I've written about the globe-hopping crew behind The Perennial Plate, a local school food documentary series, and a couple of PBS offerings on the genre.
Some of these films, like The Garden, straight out of South Central L.A., are simply fabulous. Others are a tad too earnest or overly long and tedious for my tastes. That's why I was intrigued by The Real Food Media contest for short films about sustainable food and farming. The first annual competition recently announced its top 10 films from more than 150 entries around the country. A panel of high-profile food movement folk--including Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser and Alice Waters--have picked three winners, including cash prizes for presumably starving indie filmmakers, which will be announced March 4.
Among these films, the Bay Area represents with an uplifting look at how immigrant cooks add to the area's culinary vibrancy in Kevin Longa's Hands in the Orchestra. There's still time to pick a People's Choice winner before the March 2 voting deadline. Did I mention these videos are SHORT? We're talking meditations on fixing food in four minutes or less. The shorts will also screen at the upcoming Food & Farming Film Fest in San Francisco in April.