Nate von Zumwalt, Editorial Manager
Somewhere along the line, the original tenets of Thanksgiving—you know, the “thanks” and “giving” parts—became lost in the cooking shuffle. A holiday predicated on blessing the year’s harvest became an exercise in gluttony, whether that be regarding food or even shopping. To align with the contemporary mores of autumn’s holiday, check out these 5 Sundance-supported films that train their lenses on one of America’s favorite pastimes: eating.
Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush employ the human stories of struggling citizens to lead an exploration into the American hunger crisis in their 2012 U.S. Documentary Competition film. On a day when sustenance should never be taken for granted, these stories remind us that the necessity of nourishment is still often a unfulfilled desire for many Americans.
Skewing toward the other end of the spectrum, Morgan Spurlock’s well-received 2004 doc deals firsthand with the unhealthy eating habits that underscore the country’s modern obesity epidemic. In an often comical but nausea-inducing display, the director consumes food exclusively from the McDonald’s menu for a gut-wrenching 30 days. The results are alarming.
French filmmakers Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet craft a bizarre black comedy in this 1992 Sundance Film Festival selection. Set in a curious post-apocalyptic world, the peculiar tenants of an apartment building rely on a resourceful butcher from the ground floor of the building for their solitary food supply. After the butcher enlists a former clown to work as his assistant, the sacrificial terms of his role begin to emerge. If that sounds awry, well, Delicatessen is.
In a slight deviation from the culinary theme, Bottle Shock, a 2008 film from Randall Miller, sees a sommelier (Bill Pullman) and his floundering hippy son Bo (Chris Pine) struggling in their winemaking enterprise in 1970s Napa Valley. After a chance interaction with a Parisian vino expert, the group begin to uncover the diamond in the ruff vineyards of Napa.
From a multicultural director comes a quintessential holiday film viewed through a multicultural lens. Director Gurinder Chadha—of English and Indian descent—follows the Thanksgiving dinners of four Los Angeles families and composes a keen juxtaposition of what the festivities look like in 21st century America.