Brit Withey, artistic director for the Denver Film Society, has taken a cue from popular food-based film events around the world and added an ongoing Culinary Cinema series to the programming at the Sie FilmCenter. So far this year, Withey, in conjunction with the Colorado Restaurant Association, has presented The Birth of Sake along with sake samples and food from Komotodo, and SOMM: Into the Bottle, which also included a panel of wine experts and tastings from several wineries featured in the film.
Food and film presentations have been gaining popularity among food lovers as well as cinephiles. "It really took off at the Berlin Film Festival about ten years ago," Withey says. That festival includes nightly food-based movies paired with tastings from some of the world's top chefs in a restaurant-style setting built specifically to host such events. The concept has spread to the Seattle Film Festival and will also be part of the program at this year's Denver Film Festival, which begins November 2; today there are movie distributors and sales agents dedicated solely to getting culinary films into festivals and theaters.
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The Film Society's ongoing series continues next Tuesday, July 19, with a presentation of Mussels in Love. Tickets, which can be purchased on the DFS website, are $50 ($40 for members), but the price of admission will also get you into a mussel-cooking showdown between Bistro Vendôme, the Oceanaire, Three Tomatoes Catering and Relish Catering, as well as cocktails before and after the film and a pre-screening amuse bouche from the Sie's neighbor, New World Cheese.
Withey says he selected Mussels in Love for its cinematography as well as its topic. "It's a really beautiful film; it's just really lovely on screen," he explains. "It's not just about how delicious mussels are to eat — which they are." While the documentary touches on the culinary aspect of mussels as a favorite delicacy in Belgium, it also explores the entire life cycle of the mollusk.
In September, the Film Society will present For Grace, a documentary about Chicago chef Curtis Duffy and his restaurant Grace.
The Sie FilmCenter is located at 2510 East Colfax Avenue; find more information at denverfilm.org.