11 Food Films Worth Watching

Since we launched the Real Food Media Contest in October, the Food MythBusters crew has been thinking about food + films and trying to decide on our must-watch shortlist. It hasn’t been easy! From documentaries that opened our eyes and animated shorts with a powerful message to films that made us want to get up and DO something, this list includes some food movement classics and some just released!

Without further ado, our Top Ten Eleven list as we reach the end of 2013. Find out why they made the cut, add some to your queue for winter break — and don’t forget to let us know what’s on your list in the comments!

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1. A Place At The Table – 2013, Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush, Participant Media
Fifty million people in the U.S.—one in four children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush examine the issue of hunger in America through the lens of three people struggling with food insecurity. The state of hunger in the U.S. poses serious economic, social and cultural implications, and the film argues that it could be solved once and for all, if the American public decides — as they have in the past — that making healthy food available and affordable is in the best interest of us all.

 

2. Fast Food Nation2006 – Richard Linklater and Eric Schlosser
Not the book, the feature film! Directed by Richard Linklater and developed with Real Food Media Contest judge Eric Schlosser, this is a powerful fictional account of the realities of our food chain that Schlosser uncovers in his book.

 

 3. Food, Inc. – 2008, Robert Kenner
In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Many of you have likely already seen Food, Inc., but did you know that a book has also been released (including an chapter from Anna, our project director), plus a wealth of resources online to take action on factory farming, pesticides and the environmental impact of our food system. Filmmaker Robert Kenner got an Oscar nomination for this doc for good reason — and he’s one of the judges for our Real Food Media Contest!

 

4. Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers -1980, Les Blank and Maureen Gosling
Garlic, garlic, and more garlic. Real Food Media Contest judge Alice Waters was just launching her now-famous restaurant Chez Panisse and the cameras were rolling. Plus more footage of the powers of allium sativum at Flint’s Bar-B-Que  and Truckee’s paradise for lovers of the stinking rose, La Vieille Maison — and great music from around the Bay Area at the time.

 

5. Growing Cities, 2013 – Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette
A fantastic documentary film just out this past fall – Growing Cities examines the role of urban farming in America and asks how much power it has to revitalize our cities and change the way we eat:

 

6. Growing Change, 2012. Simon Cunich
A documentary inside Venezuela’s food revolution – from fishing villages to cacao plantations to urban gardens, a growing social movement is showing what’s possible when communities, not corporations, start to take control of food:

 

7. King Corn – 2007, Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney
A feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat—and how we farm.

 

8. Life and Debt – 2001, Stephanie Black
Jamaica, land of sand, sea and sun… and a prime example of economic globalization on the world’s developing countries. This documentary – although not solely about food systems – was one of the first to starkly portray the how “help” from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank via restructuring policies have crippled Jamaica’s efforts – and many countries from the Global South – toward self-reliant development, all the while enriching the lenders in this free market economy. This scathing film is an unapologetic look at the new world order from the point of view of Jamaican workers and farmers, as well as government and policy officials:

 

9. The Meatrix – 2003, GRACE Sustainable Table, Free Range Studios
When The Meatrix launched in November 2003, the 4-minute, animated film broke new ground in online grassroots advocacy, creating a unique vehicle by which to educate, entertain and motivate people to create change. Check out the Meatrix Interactive 360° on the website, it’s a great tool to help people learn about factory farming, and alternatives to conventionally-raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs. And don’t miss Sustainable Table’s Eat Well Guide: an online directory of sustainable food from farms, stores and restaurants in North America! Keep an eye out in 2014 for a special new release to the series!

 

10. Soul Food Junkies – 2012, Byron Hurt
Real Food Media Contest judge, Byron Hurt, sets out on a historical and culinary journey to learn more about the soul food tradition and its relevance to black cultural identity. Through candid interviews with soul food cooks, historians, and scholars, as well as with doctors, family members, and everyday people, the film puts this culinary tradition under the microscope to examine both its positive and negative consequences.

 

11. Symphony of the Soil – 2012, Deborah Koons Garcia
Filmed on four continents and sharing the voices of some of the world’s most esteemed soil scientists, farmers and activists, the film portrays soil as a protagonist of our planetary story. Using a captivating mix of art and science, the film shows that soil is a complex living organism, the foundation of life on earth. Yet most people are soil-blind and “treat soil like dirt.” Through the knowledge and wisdom revealed in this film, we can come to respect, even revere, this miraculous substance, and appreciate that treating the soil right can help solve some of our most pressing environmental problems.

 

And finally, we just found out that the filmmakers behind the upcoming documentary, SEED: The Untold Story passed their Kickstarter goal this week! BIG congrats, we’re looking forward to sharing it far and wide.

 

Real Food Media Contest submissions are due by midnight on February 3rd, 2014

Grab a camera and tell your story in 4 minutes or less for a chance at fantastic cash prizes and debut opportunities — and have your work seen in front of food and film leaders including contest judges Michael Pollan, Robert Kenner of Food, Inc., Padma Lakshmi, Keri Putnam at Sundance and more.

Register to get access to exclusives and extras!

SHORT films, BIG ideas at www.realfoodmedia.org

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