Long time readers of this blog will know that I love sushi. After watching Tanagokoro: A Culinary Portrait, I don’t think I can look at many local Japanese restaurants the same ever again. The practice of Ikejime is not everywhere and this short documentary really extols the virtue of what it means to be an ethical chef. That is, to harvest the food in a way that won’t stress the product so that you’ll get the best flavour hitting those taste buds. In this work’s case, it’s all about how to best catch that fish, keep it alive and slaughter it before hitting the dinner table.
Victoria Fistes and Masashi Nozaki are both the directors and producers of this work. They produced an excellent look at the man who’s trying to revolutionize an industry, one country at a time. Victoria is a filmmaker who has worked on commercials, short films and documentaries. She’s best known for “Being Ernest,” which shares the experiences of a young blind boy. More recently, she has worked as an Assistant Producer on the documentary “Misha and The Wolves“ and as a Production Assistant on “The Reason I Jump” which won the Sundance Audience Award in 2020.
Masashi has an immense passion for culturally connecting Japan and the world. He is a producer/director who provides consultation to national companies and collaborates locally on projects with creators.
I had a chance to correspond with the team about this work:
Chiliheads is a fascinating look at the love for the hot pepper. Julien Fréchettecreated a very insightful documentary that features people from different walks of life who are obsessed with this fruit. From its roots of being a very regional plant to its pollination around the world (mostly because of trading from the Portuguese traders), it’s growing everywhere. Each variant has its own flavour profile and heat level. A lot of information is densely packed in this 73 min work, and it’s certainly worth watching again just to learn about why it’s become part of certain cultures’ cuisine.
Anyone able to make it to the Wolfville, Nova Scotia will be in for a treat at Devour! The Food Film Fest this year. Not only is there a noticable expanded Indigenous cuisine focus this year, but also, I truly wish I could be there in person. The Street Food Rally is always the highlight! It’s $5 per plate, and has a lot of tasty dishes from around the world, namely Mexico, Finland, Canada, and the United States.
The delights offered has me ready to hop a plane with no regard to making my comic book convention budget disappear. That’s because there’s a lot of game meats being offered that I’ve always wanted to taste. Plus, there’s something to the Autumn season which really makes me want to bulk up so I can hibernate later. But I digress. The following plates are from the official website:
Master Cheung (warmly played by Pak Hon Chu), is a stranger in a strange land. In this film’s case, it’s Finland. Together with his son, Niu Niu (Lucas Hsuan), they travelled here in search of Fongtron, and Sirkka’s (Anna-Maija Tuokko) diner is the only place where he can ask for his whereabouts.
Nobody in the tiny hamlet knows who this person is, and why this Chinese man is adamant on finding him. Part of it is due to how he pronounces his syllables, and it doesn’t make for any comic moments. Chu plays his character up somewhat like Jackie Chan, naïve and strong, but without the fighting prowess and necessity to yuk it up. I feel this direction is intentional to show the parts of his life that he’s closed off.
* w/ Q&A after the film with director Darrell Varga and Festival Host Bob Blumer.
Darrell Varga is a professor by day and baker at other times. His passion for the former began when he took a class in film history, and it opened his mind to the possibilities of the moving image. Many years later, his interest became his occupation, including penning many books and having a tenure at NSCAD University (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design) where he teaches cinema history and documentary film production.
When he’s not in the office, he worked on Hunters and Gatherers, about the world of collectors (and not just geek stuff) in 1994. This work predates the television show Collector’s Call and many other similar documentaries. He followed up with another piece in 1996, Working Days, funded in part by TVOntario, is about the closure of a Toronto factory (the first to close) after the signing of Free Trade with the US in the 80s and the sense of loss the workers had and the community. Not as well known is a video essay, Fire, Ice and Sky (2013) which explored the ideas of time and landscape.
For other upcoming screenings, please visit the Fish & Men website.
Not everyone knows where their seafood comes from, and the difference between commercial fisheries versus smaller local operations is in where they get their catch– and sustainability. Fish & Men is an important documentary to watch because it presents a struggle to survive in a cutthroat marketplace where the consumer’s dollar is top prize.
Not many smaller operations, usually a fisherman and his mid-sized boat, can keep up with what the market wants. Sadly, these days it’s more about quantity than quality. I support a local fish operation, Finest at Sea, in Victoria, BC. They have a ship or two under their employ to fetch a variety of fish up and down the British Columbia Coast, and the difference is in how they keep things fresh until it hits the dinner table. In this feature length exploration, Gloucester, MA, America’s oldest fishing port, is shown struggling to survive.