Reel FoodA Residential Workshop
November 5th- 9th San Francisco Bay Area
From weekday dinners to holiday feasts, food brings people together. We gather around the table to enjoy a meal, often telling stories about our lives. It's not often, though, that we discuss the food on our plates -- how what we eat and the methods we use to produce it affect people and the planet.
Reel Food is a residential workshop that brought together non-fiction media-makers telling powerful stories about food and agriculture with non-profit organizations that are working for healthy, just and sustainable communities. The intention of Reel Food was to hone filmmakers' audience engagement plans, seed collaboration and cross-promotion, and generate concrete partnerships between the documentary projects and NGOs. This workshop has supported a variety of media-based campaigns including feature length films, shorts, online initiatives and transmedia projects.
Working Films was proud to present Reel Food in collaboration with Chicken & Egg Pictures and the Fledgling Fund.
After being dropped by their main dairy processor, a group of nine Maine organic dairy farmers tries to launch a new milk company, Maine’s Own Organic Milk. But in MOO Milk’s first year, each of the farmers is facing mounting debts and losing money every week. Can the new company succeed, and fast enough to save them? Betting the Farm aims to enable individual consumers to recognize their own power to change the food system, one shopping trip at a time. The film and its accompanying outreach and engagement plans will encourage consumers to purchase food that is produced near their homes and by farms that are environmentally sustainable. If enough individual consumers choose to support those farms and companies, their operations will be economically sustainable as well, bucking a trend toward greater economies of scale in the production of food.
Cooked takes audiences from the 1995 heat disaster -- when 739 Chicago residents died in one week -- into the present to boldly address the “climate gap”- the inextricable link between extreme weather and extreme poverty. With this as a backdrop, Judith Helfand, in her signature serious-yet-quirky style, starts to explore the very nature and prevailing definition of disaster. She takes off to learn about one of our nation’s most recent growth industries -- “disaster-preparedness" -- and asks an urgent, and to some, oddly naïve, question: “What if we treated extreme poverty as if it were an emergency?” Along the way she becomes a “Disaster Detective”, meets some unexpected allies and a whole new brand of “first responders, from grassroots economic development practitioners and urban agriculturalists, to community-health interventionists - all of whom are racing to rescue their economically isolated neighborhoods from man-made “unnatural disasters” taking place everyday.
What happens when a community, in the name of their children’s health and well being, decides to locally transform the neglected National School Lunch program? In the 1990s a diverse group of California parents decided to change the system because it wasn’t working for children. The Lunch Love Community Documentary Project explores the community-based school lunch reform movement now spreading across the nation, from Brooklyn to Riverside, from Chicago to New Orleans, from Boulder to Oakland. It is a story of how passionate and dedicated individuals -- ordinary citizens to educators and food professionals -- are coming together to work through struggles and controversy, and change the way children eat, how they learn in school, and how to think about food systems in a climate-changing world.
Pipe Fire (working title)
Brothers Aarne and Lasse Aatsinki are arctic cowboys to the extreme. Along with their wives and children, they live well north of the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland, where they are the leaders of a collective of traditional reindeer herders who own the last group of wild reindeer in Finland. Pipe Fire (working itle) follows the Aatsinki family for the span of one year, observing their seasonal routines as they manage their herd. Though, on the surface, PipeFire appears to be the story of a single family, its underlying narrative is one of global consequences and connections. As our main characters face the pressures of the modern world and the gradual demise of their ancient way of life, audience members are encouraged to form their own opinions about what it means to live in the 21st century. What are we giving up and what are we gaining? What happens when we have wiped clean all traces of traditional farming and herding – lifestyles that are closely bonded to animals and the land? In this way, the film invites audience members to reconsider their ideas about technology, environmentalism, food production, and, most critically, the prevalent Western understanding of man’s place in nature.
Planeat is the story of three men’s life-long search for a diet, which is good for our health, good for the environment and good for the future of the planet. With an additional cast of pioneering chefs and some of the best cooking you have ever seen, the scientists and doctors in the film present a convincing case for the West to re-examine its love affair with meat and dairy. The film features the ground-breaking work of Dr. T Colin Campbell in China exploring the link between diet and disease, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s use of diet to treat heartdisease patients, and Professor Gidon Eshel’s investigations into how our food choices impact our land, oceans and atmosphere. With the help of some innovative farmers and chefs, PLANEAT shows how the problems we face today can be solved, without simply resorting to a diet of lentils and lettuce leaves.
Participant Media, the entertainment company responsible for such acclaimed documentaries as An Inconvenient Truth, Food, Inc. and Waiting for “Superman,” turns its attention to the crisis of hunger in America today with THE UNTITLED SILVERBUSH-JACOBSON DOCUMENTARY. Despite our having the means to provide nutritious, affordable food for all Americans, some 49 million people in the U.S.—one in four children--go hungry every day. Directors Lori Silverbush and Kristi Jacobson offer compelling profiles of urban and rural families struggling to feed their kids, while trapped in an system of inadequate hunger assistance programs based on outdated government poverty policies. These are interwoven with positive, uplifting stories of ordinary citizens, experts such as writers Janet Poppendieck and Raj Patel and activists such as Top Chef’s Tom Colicchio and Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges who are committed to making a difference. We see how hunger--detrimental to health, productivity, and learning--poses serious economic, social and cultural implications for our nation, and is something that affects us all. Therefore, it’s in all our best interests to work together to find real solutions to hunger.
What’s On Your Plate? is a witty and provocative documentary about kids and food politics produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Catherine Gund. Filmed over the course of one year, the film follows two eleven-year-old, multi-racial city kids as they explore their place in the food chain. Sadie and Safiyah take a close look at food systems in New York City and its surrounding areas. With the camera as their companion, the girl guides talk to each other, food activists, farmers, new friends, storekeepers, their families, and the viewer, in their quest to understand what’s on all of our plates.
1. The participation of innovative problem solvers including farmers’ organizations, food access groups, environmental organizations, socially responsible brands, policy makers and foundation funders: Together the filmmakers and these participating allies will identify shared goals and craft the core elements of campaigns featuring the participating media.
2. A Focus on Collaboration: We know that it takes more than one great piece of media on an issue used by multiple organizations to make real change. Reel Food is designed to identify ways that multiple filmmakers and organizations can work collaboratively to make a difference.
3. Peer Support: Filmmakers will be considered peer coaches both during and after the residency, offering one another expertise and critical input on all aspects of their individual campaigns.
At the conclusion of the residency the participating media projects will be well positioned to engage audiences in meaningful action on important food and agriculture issues.
Reel Food is the latest installment of Working Films’ Reel Engagement Project. Started in 2009 with support from Chicken and Egg Pictures and The Fledgling Fund, Reel Engagement is a series of thematic trainings aimed at securing strategic partnerships between social issue media makers, non-profits, and other key stakeholders leading efforts for change on the crucial issues of our time. Building on previous success with thematic residencies and campaigns (Real Girls Reel Change, Reel Power, and Reel Education) we have developed an exciting format for the week-long Reel Food event.
Media-makers will spend the first four days of Reel Food at a retreat center in the Bay Area sharpening their strategies for audience and community engagement. They will workshop their projects, honing their individual audience engagement plans. Additionally, filmmakers will brainstorm potential collaborative campaigns featuring the full group of participating projects. Working Films, The Fledgling Fund, Chicken & Egg Pictures and experts in the field of sustainable agriculture and healthy food systems will offer guidance to assure that the filmmaker’s strategies are aligned with the needs and priorities of the movement.
On day five, filmmakers will pitch their projects to a select group of food activists, non-profit leaders, and funders at the Reel Food Convening. Through a series of small group, roundtable conversations this audience will offer valuable feedback on the feasibility and impact potential of filmmakers’ plans and will have an opportunity to become partners in engagement efforts using these media projects.
This gathering is a day of serious strategy for advancing change in the agriculture, health, and environmental sectors. Participating organizations will walk away with stronger relationships with filmmakers and funders as well as with their peers and colleagues. Filmmakers and organizations will gain an understanding of how the multiplatform media projects can be used as compelling resources to advance their shared goals. Collectively we will lay the foundation for this select group of story-driven documentary projects to influence people in making essential changes in the way we produce and consume our food.
Reel Food will be held November 5th - 9th in the San Francisco Bay Area.
We are pleased to be working in collaboration with the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC), whose national conference will be held concurrently in Oakland (November 5th - 8th). This conference draws hundreds of food justice organizers, sustainable agriculture advocates, and others concerned about related issues. We will team up with CFSC to hold a screening at the conference featuring a Reel Food film project. This event promises to be a unique opportunity to put the ideas discussed at the residency into action. CFSC will also be working with us to invite a select group of their conference participants to attend the Reel Food Convening.