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."
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.
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