[VFF’17] Theatre of Life Gives Hope to the Less Fortunate

theatre-of-life_pub207-5x7_5_7220dpi20accPlays Feb 10, 6:15pm
at Silvercity Tillicum

Feb 11, 6:30pm
at The Vic Theatre
Victoria, BC

Feeding the planet and the less fortunate anywhere is potentially difficult. To explore this situation is the documentary Theatre of Life, which is playing during this year’s Victoria Film Festival. This movie shows the task in a small-scale is doable, but it takes a concentrated effort to make it work and a continued commitment to make a difference. Chef Massimo Bottura deserves praise for taking the surplus and expired food meant for the 2015 Milan Expo’s many concession and diner operations and prepare simple original meals at the Refettorio Ambrosiano. This food kitchen still operates, and it does more than to feed the lower-class; it gives them a sense of community.

An elderly couple living in a train station will always be welcomed. Seeing these two selling their trinkets and busking (hearing a rendition of Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone in Italian was a treat) is heartbreaking. Apparently, they have no other members of their family who will take them in and they do not want to live in shelters since there are others in greater need. There must be more to their story which did not get looked at and had it been further explored, that subplot would have distracted from this film’s main goal. Nobody at their age should be living in that state. Bottura found and offered to take them to Ambrosiano so they can have a decent meal and are told should they ever find themselves in this part of the city, the Piazza Greco, they have a place to belong.

This film also looks at other lives whom audiences get to meet here: We see a Senegalese disabled woman dreaming of being a model and a muscle man who helps others at a psychiatric hospital. Their stories will bring a smile because they are not sad stories, but revelations of hope.

While this documentary by Peter Svatek nicely intermingles the stories of these people with how this kitchen came to be established (along with some petty bickering about how sweet or salty a dessert should be), I wanted to know how this idea can be expanded upon. Talents like John Winter Russell from Montreal and René Redzepi from Copenhagen do take home what they’ve experienced and created programs in their respective home towns to help those there.

The filming took place over a year ago, and while its release was staggered throughout autumn of 2016, this product can benefit from having updates in showing how it is continuing to affect lives.

The message this film makes is a great one. More influential people within the food service industry should see this movie to realize day-old products should not be thrown away. All it takes is a simple phone call to organizations (be it The Mustard Seed or local church groups) to come pick up these extras. This idea can not be left simmering.

4 Blokes out of 5

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