Sunday, January 28, 2007

Must see: Our Daily Bread at the Vancity Theatre

After Old Joy, this was my second favourite film at the last Vancouver International Film Festival: Our Daily Bread, a beautifully and carefully composed documentary described on the official site as "a wide-screen tableau of a feast which isn’t always easy to digest - and in which we all take part." It shows, without commentary or narration, the realities of the industrial production of food, from fish being gutted by machines to salt miners at work to the sorting and packaging of tomatoes on long conveyer belts. Though the film doesn't flinch from slaughterhouse sequences, which may upset some, it's no PETA piece; remarkably, it takes just enough of an aesthetic distance from its subject matter to allow you to form your own opinions and to perceive the film in more than one way. For me, this made it all the more unsettling: though eating is one of the most intimate and nurturing of experiences, we are so sheltered/estranged from the processes by which our food is produced that at various times I felt like I was watching life on a technologically-fetishistic, thoroughly alien planet. (I dimily recall that Kurt Vonnegut once wrote of an alternate world where the porn was comprised of images of people eating; in such a world, this would be the Boogie Nights.) Fans of Manufactured Landscapes would find this a worthy companion piece. Til Thursday at the Vancity Theatre, at Seymour and Davie - strongly, strongly recommended.

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