I don’t mind saying it: I'm a film junkie. I'd happily watch any movie in the 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival line-up but... no section is dearer to my heart than Film Feast, which this year offers six films, most of them documentaries, all of them presenting a different look inside the culinary world.
With the #MeToo movement in a pivotal place culturally and politically, women working in restaurant kitchens are finding their voice. Or are we just finally paying attention? This 2018 Canadian documentary looks at seven women — from Chinese-American chef Anita Lo (making the list of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in America in 2000) to France’s Anne-Sophie Pic, one of only three female chefs to be awarded three Michelin stars — who aren’t letting themselves be held back. Offered here is a behind-the-scenes look inside the challenging, stressful world of restaurants and the paths these women are carving for future generations of female chefs.
Director: Maya Gallus
- Sunday, Oct. 21 | 6:30 p.m. | Oriental Cinema West
- Sunday, Oct. 28 | 1 p.m. | Fox Bay Cinema Grill
- Tuesday, Oct. 30 | 3:15 p.m.
Last year’s Milwaukee Film Festival, I was led on a mesmerizing journey through Israeli cuisine by chef Michael Solomonov in In Search of Israeli Cuisine. I am hoping for the same effect with this film, which celebrates the cuisine of Cuba. Or should I say cuisines. Cuban food has a melting pot of influences, from Spanish and African to Native American Taino (indigenous to the Caribbean). Like Solomonov, who owns an acclaimed restaurant in the U.S. and went back to his native Israel in search of its “defined” cuisine, director Asori Soto is a Cuban expat (living for 10 years in America) who returns home to look for lost culinary traditions — at least, those that may have been lost after the Soviet Union (on which it became dependent after 1959) collapsed in 1991. Cuba’s economic struggles since then are well-documented. Soto examines his native food culture as harbinger of hope for the future.
Director: Asori Soto
- Saturday, Oct 20 | 6:30 p.m. | Fox-Bay Cinema Grill
- Wednesday, Oct. 24 | 3:45 p.m. | Avalon Theater
- Monday, Oct. 29 | 8:30 p.m. /Oriental Theatre West
What exactly does a restaurant need to do to earn Michelin stars? Then, once you get them, what do you need to do to keep them? That’s what this 2017 Danish documentary examines, through the perspective of 15 chefs, all of whom have dared to dream of receiving those coveted stars. They include 3-star French chef Guy Savoy of the restaurant Guy Savoy in Paris, Rene Redzepi of Copenhagen’s 2-star Noma, and Daniel Humm, of New York City’s Eleven Madison Park. The trailer gives just a hint of the exceptional restaurants into which the film steps.
Director: Rasmus Dinesen
- Monday, Oct. 29 | 4 p.m. | Avalon Theater
- Thursday, Nov. 1 | 1 p.m. | Fox-Bay Cinema Grill
This story is far more complicated than a German cakemaker falling in love with his married customer. After his Israeli lover dies in a car crash, the baker goes to Jerusalem to learn more about his life, including the man’s widow. Without letting on that he was in a relationship with her husband, the baker lands a job at the widow’s café under an assumed name. Drama ensues.
Director: Ofir Raul Graizer
- Sunday, Oct. 21 | 1:15 p.m. | Fox-Bay Cinema Grill
- Tuesday, Oct. 23 | Noon | Times Cinema
- Wednesday, Oct. 31 | 3:15 p.m. | Oriental Theatre West
This 2018 documentary starts with some premise stats — that the number of breweries nationwide has ballooned from less then 1,500 in 1998 to over 7,000 today. These are particularly good days for beer drinkers. Among the threads followed is a Milwaukee man studying to earn his Master of Cicerone (the beer industry’s highest level of “knowledge,” it requires rigorous training).
Director: Douglas Tirola
- Saturday, Oct. 20 | 12:30 p.m. | Avalon Theater
- Tuesday, Oct. 23 | 6:45 p.m. | Jan Serr Studio Cinema
Chef Flynn McGarry’s exploits have been documented since the tender age of 12, when the “Justin Bieber of food” started the Eureka dining club in LA. The dinner tasting menu cost $160 a person. The story goes that he was home-schooled from 7th grade on so that he could spend more time cooking. This 2018 documentary follows the 19-year-old as he endeavors to open his first pop-up restaurant in NYC. His “momager” plays a big role in young McGarry’s culinary journey, the film illustrates.
Director: Cameron Yates
- Sunday, Oct. 21 | 10 a.m. | Jan Serr Studio Cinema
- Wednesday, Oct. 24 | 1:30 p.m. | Oriental Theatre Main
- Wednesday, Oct. 31 | 7 p.m. | Fox-Bay Cinema Grill