2016 marks the 10th anniversary of Berlinale’s Culinary Cinema, themed “Make Food, Not War”.
For those unfamiliar with Berlinale, it’s one of the three most prestigious film festivals for the film industry (the other two being Venice and Cannes). It was founded in 1951 in west Berlin, and since 1978, it’s celebrated annually in February. Over 400 films of various genres, length and formats are screened over a period of 10 days, with the festival divided into several different sections like Competition (for full-feature films competing for the Berlinale prizes of Golden and Silver Bears), Berlinale Shorts (domestic and international short films, also a competition), Generation (short and full-feature films aimed at children and youth), etc. You can have a look at the 2016 sections and program brochures on the Berlinale website here.
After a few years of living in Berlin and attending Berlinale annually (though in 2015 we were on a sabbatical trip in Southeast Asia so missed it completely), I can safely say that Culinary Cinema is definitely one of my favourite Berlinale programs, next to Shorts, Generation and Panorama. The handsome-and-talented husband and I even have our Berlinale ritual: on the last day of the festival, which is always a Sunday, we go to the afternoon screening of the GenerationMix, followed by a quick dinner nearby before hopping into a full-feature closing film. A happy end of Sunday!
Culinary Cinema and our experience so far
Culinary Cinema is a selection of food-themed films; it’s not just film screenings, there are also moderated dialogues with filmmakers and chefs in workshops, a film screening followed by director/actor Q&A and dinner by a Michelin-starred chef who creates a menu based on the film. The screening-and-dinner is a highly coveted event for foodies and tickets are often sold out in minutes.
In the past I was lucky to have been able to get tickets to regular Culinary Cinema screenings, as well as the screening-and-dinner events. It makes a great date with friends and the handsome-and-talented husband. Be prepared for a late night, though, plus it’s not cheap. A ticket runs 80€ per person. Screenings usually start at 19:30, best to get there early to queue as the seats are never numbered.
There’s a Q&A session with the filmmakers and actors after the screening, before we’re all shuffled across the street from Martin-Gropius-Bau, to the circus tent where the dinner happens. Dinner seating is arranged per reservation, so you can be social and chat to the others on the table, or just concentrate on your date.
A particularly memorable one is our Culinary Cinema experience in 2013: a screening of Season 2 of Isabella Rosselini’s Green Porno series, and a full-feature film “L’Amour des Moules” (Mussels in Love) followed by a dinner by Nils Henkel, who once ran the Schlosshotel Lerbach (formerly Restaurant Dieter Müller).
The film was fascinating, beautifully shot, and on a topic that the handsome-and-talented husband and I personally relate to. When we lived in the Netherlands, mussel season was definitely something we look forward to in the summer months, eating mussels in the Belgian and Dutch seaside. The food was great, beautifully plated, seafood-focused (he did an amazing Arctic char!) and familiar-yet-new flavour combinations with the mussels. We loved it, and had a wonderful evening!
I went a few more times in 2012 and 2014, with friends and the handsome-and-talented husband:
- Canela, 2012 Mexican comedy-drama, film only.
- Hindsight, 2012 South Korean action-drama, film only.
- Zone Pro Site/The Moveable Feast, 2014 Taiwanese comedy-drama, menu by Chef Tim Raue (I love love his restaurant and La Souppe Populaire, but at this event he was just OK), film and dinner.
- Food Chains, 2014 U.S. documentary, film only.
- I Maccheroni (a delightful short film, videoclip below) and Natural Resistance (full feature documentary), 2014, menu by Chef Matthias Diether, film and dinner.
This year, I forgot to keep my schedule light (shock shock horror!) so I only got tickets to the following Berlinale events:
- Campo A Traves. Mugaritz, Intuyendo un Camino, 2015, documentary, menu by chef Andoni Luis Anduriz, film and dinner.
- Noma: My Perfect Storm, 2015 documentary, film only.
- Ants on a Shrimp, 2016 documentary, film only.
- Wanton Mee, 2015 documentary, film only.
- GenerationMix, our usual Sunday Berlinale ritual : )
See you in Part 2, where I’ll write up about my experience and reviews of the Culinary Cinema screenings above!