Julia Joun had been doing volunteer publicity for the International Film Series, working closely with IFS director Pablo Kjolseth, for over a year when she realized that IFS was missing a major opportunity. "Boulder is such a vibrant food city," says Joun. "I wanted to create a sense of excitement around food -- not just from a film perspective, and not just a few films in isolation. I wanted a real festival. I go to Telluride Film Festival every year, and that's what I had in mind as a first-rate film-festival experience -- it's about showcasing Boulder's food scene and the IFS."
Kjolseth liked the idea, and wound up collaborating with Joun on food-film research -- and the result of this merging of personalities, ideas and films about food can be tasted at the inaugural Chow Down: IFS Food Film Festival, which opens on October 9 and runs through October 13.
Chow Down will present local industry figures like Black Cat's Eric Skokan and Frasca Food & Wine Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey in the bigger picture of food culture through film and curated tastings and events, including a "Hummus Throwdown" that will pit fifteen participants against each other to create the "Best Hummus in Boulder."
The festival will feature six full-length films and one short, all of which approach the food landscape and the various ways in which food culture (and eating) has a place in our lives. The kickoff, a free showing of Les Blank's gastro-obsessed documentary Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers, chronicles the history of garlic through footage of a garlic festival and cultural storytelling. The acclaimed film was selected for preservation in the United States' National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2004: We can already smell the garlic.
Other screenings include Jadoo, a film about rival brothers who own restaurants on the same street, and Artisan Baker, a short film that profiles Maurizio Negrini, a third-generation master baker at Udi's Artisan Bakery.
Skokan, chef-owner of Black Cat Farm Table Bistro and Bramble & Hare, will introduce Now, Forager, the tale of a professional mushroom forager and his chef wife. Somm, which follows the complex (and difficult) process that Master Sommelier candidates undergo as they pursue their certification, features a former Frasca employee and will be introduced by Frasca co-owner Stuckey. On the other end of the spectrum is A Place at the Table, which explores the political implications of American hunger by putting a face to the 25 percent of American children without food security, including those living in a small town on the Western Slope.
"While I hope that movie-goers enjoy all of the festival films, speakers and events as much as I have, I also have additional aims for some of the films," explains Joun. "One goal, for example, is informed outrage as a logical reaction to A Place at the Table and its subject matter of hunger in America."
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The films will be screened at the University of Colorado's Muenzinger Auditorium and the Canyon Theater at the Boulder Public Library. For a complete schedule, visit chow-down.com. Film tickets are sold individually, but festival passes can be purchased at any IFS screening and at Absolute Vinyl Records and Stereo in Boulder.