Hello! Welcome to Part 2 of our 2016 Berlinale Culinary Cinema experience. If you don’t know about Berlinale or the Culinary Cinema program, you can read Part 1 here where I explain all about it, and why we love it so much and make it an annual thing.
Our experience at the 2016 Berlinale Culinary Cinema
This year the film+dinner tickets now cost 95€ instead of 80€, which does sound a bit eek at first. If you put it into context of fine-dining though, it’s great value for trying out the food/menu by interesting and talented chefs. At first glance of the program, I got really excited about all the dinners, but upon further investigation, one dinner experience stood out to me, and that’s the seafood-focused menu of Andoni Luis Aduriz.
One thing about living in Berlin is that I really miss great, fresh seafood! Of course, in the summers we’d cycle to the lakes and pick up some smoked eel and freshwater trout, but that’s not the same as eating fresh crab or fish from the sea. So the menu, along with the film content, is definitely my top two factors in selecting which screening to attend.
Campo a través. Mugaritz, intuyendo un camino, film and dinner on February 14th.
It was Sunday, and usually we prefer to stay in on Sunday nights. We did have a late night, not getting back home till around 01:00, resulting in a bleary-eyed Monday morning, but it was worth it!
As the opening film to kick-off the Culinary Cinema category, the film was a safe choice; it didn’t make any big controversial statements and was beautifully shot.
The storytelling was in chapters, like the conceptual “dreaming” chapter, interspersed with testimonials from staff and collaborators, vignettes of kitchen-gardening-restaurant activities, beautifully shot scenes of the Basque countryside and dishes being plated, one of the most memorable is the flower inside melting ice. The sketching and “design thinking” part of the Mugaritz process is fascinating to me, since it’s so similar to what designers do on a daily basis, that “design thinking” had always existed in other disciplines before it was ever coined that way.
The “unnecessary bits” of the storytelling I felt were in the very staged scenes where Aduriz himself went foraging (in his white chef jacket!) and then later breaking down a wall of kitchen equipment (pots, pans, etc) to get to his kitchen. While at dinner afterwards, a discussion emerged about whether the animated facts and figures were necessary for the storytelling, I thought they added context.
Dinner was great, we sat at a table with super nice people, whom I later added on Facebook, in the hopes of future food adventures together. Conversation was lively, the food was good and we had a really good time!
Red currants and lavender, Noma 2014. Image by: Rachel Lovinger on Flickr.
Noma: My Perfect Storm, film only on February 16th.
An emotional narrative into the rise of Noma, voted #1 on the World’s Top 50 Best Restaurants three times. Generally I liked the film:
- the contradictory “bipolar” nature of Rene’s behaviour (doesn’t care about a third Michelin vs. stresses out about not winning the best restaurant award): being a third-culture kid myself, I can relate to this, not quite fitting in when you’re growing up yet having a very anchored inner circle makes one a different type of adult.
- the beautiful shots of the ingredients and dishes: meticulously shot, I was expecting to see the hashtag #FoodPorn overlaid on the images.
- the buzz in the kitchen: shot with body/head cams, the footage added a dynamic pace to the film.
- the characters introduced: could’ve explained more about the sea urchin diver and the mushroom forager, why/how Rene Redzepi was so personally life-changing to them.
- the overall story arch from the rise to months of rough patch to reclaiming the award: the storytelling was more “together” than “Campo A Traves. Mugaritz, Intuyendo un Camino”, cinematography is paced to reflect this up and down emotional rollercoaster.
I squirmed a bit during the “ants on yoghurt” scene; I ate ants as a kid, both out of curiousity and masochism. I didn’t like the tart and bitter taste of ants and can still recall the crunchiness. I also squirmed a bit during the scenes where Rene berates Thomas and Lars, mostly because at the start of the film, the director announced that Thomas’ parents are sitting in the audience with us. Wow, watching your son get told off on the IMAX screen.
Overall it was a screening that I enjoyed. If this was on Netflix as we browse through on a rainy winter weekend, I’d watch it again.
Sometimes Berlinale plans go down the drain…
Yeah, I didn’t make it to the rest of the screenings. If you want to read about “Ants on a Shrimp” and “Wanton Mee”, you should go over to my friend Astrid’s blog and read her reviews; she’s quite the Berlinale fan, so attends something like 15-20 Berlinale screenings every year if not more.
If you want to know why I didn’t make it to the screenings, read on…
Unfortunately, on Thursday February 18 I started to get really sick. My pain level spiked up and I spent most of the day horizontal, wishing the pain away. Usually the pain goes away with 1-2 Ibuprofen tablets but this time, the pain was just reduced, and never went away despite me dosing myself with Ibuprofen, muscle relaxants, Ketanol Forte, lots of water.
If you’re familiar with chronic pain, you’ll know how exhausting it is to endure physical pain for hours on end, plus the paralysing effect of chronic pain that makes one (or at least, me) just want to curl into a ball and stay still, because moving is too painful.
Long story short, by Friday evening, the handsome-and-talented husband called the EMS. I was brought to the ER in an ambulance where for the next 18 hours, I was examined, prodded, attached to machines and IVs and painkiller injections. Turns out I have an infection, and a nearly wiped out hemoglobin level so up till Monday February 22 I was on a regime of blood transfusion, IV antibiotics, IV iron supplements and painkillers.
I’m back home now, still on an antibiotic-and-iron-pills regime, but at least I’m not horizontal. Slowly getting into the swing of things; I’m glad I wrote the film reviews first, so today I only had to do the last bit on why I didn’t make it to the rest of the screenings.
See you next year, Berlinale!