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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Food, Film, Festivals, and Philanthropy

Yes, you just missed the Culinary Cinema event at the Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin, which included the premiere of Italian director Ermanno Olmi’s new documentary Terra Madre, which explores the international network of food communities that gather to create actions and alliances around local, sustainable, heritage foods.– but all hope for a savory and sustainable cinematic moment is not lost, as Slow Food on Film is gearing up for the Cineteca di Bologna , May 6th – 10th, at venues all across the city, from the Museum of Modern Art to the Cinema Lumiere. There’s a full list of activities, including Street Slow Food at the Manifattura delle Arti, and plenty of dinners, lunches, children’s events, meetings, and educational activities. According to its press release, the festival aims at promoting a new critical awareness of food culture through the screening of films, short films, documentaries, and TV series focusing on “food-related issues in an original way and as well as on the agricultural and food industry's repercussion on society and the environment, and on gastronomic memory as a common heritage to be safeguarded.” In fact, you still have a few more days to send in your own documentary, short film, or animation, as the deadline is March 1st, 2009. If your own film isn’t quite off the editing floor, you can still make a difference connecting Slow Food, sustainability, and environmentally-sound activism with your own small film and philanthrophy night. Although it hasn’t been shown much here in the US yet, last year’s Golden Snail for Best Documentary went to Bill Haney’s The Price of Sugar, which is a poignant exploration of Haitian sugar cane plantation workers in the Dominican Republic who are virtual slaves. The film highlights the work of Father Christopher Hartley, who led farm protests in the region and was removed from his post and sent to Ethiopia.   In setting up your own local event, you could include a book club or reading night, dedicated to the works of Edwidge Danticat, whose many novels focus on Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  Indeed, The Farming of Bones, covers the historical roots of the plantations and slave labor covered in The Price of Sugar.   Then, consider hosting a private screening of Haney’s film. Add philanthropy into the mix by collecting donations for Infante Sano, a nonprofit of doctors and health care workers dedicated to providing health care to Haitian and Dominican women and children. Infante Sano has designed a program that partners with existing hospitals and clinics to provide life-saving trainings and necessary medical equipment. Collect $25 per person to sponsor a mother for a healthy start or $300 a person for a year long sponsorship, insuring the mother and child a healthy safe entry into life. 
And of course, be sure to serve sweets made with fair trade sugar!

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