Food and films for thought
Berlin film festival sparks conversations about sustainability and food production over elegant cuisine.
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However, it was hard not to be won over by the accompanying "green" dinners prepared by Michelin-starred chefs Lea Linster of Luxembourg, Hendrik Otto of the Ritz-Carlton Berlin's Vitrum Restaurant, and Kolja Kleeberg of Berlin's legendary Vau.Skip to next paragraph
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Tickets for the series were difficult to obtain, with the opening gala and ensuing dinner programs rivaling the films in the main competition program in popularity. The series concluded with the widely anticipated world première of "Terra Madre" a documentary about the Slow Food movement's conference of more than 6,000 farmers and other food producers from more than 130 countries held annually in Turin, Italy. The film's iconic Italian director Ermanno Olmi also directed "The Tree of Wooden Clogs." Mr. Olmi was unable to attend the festival, but Carlo Petrini, founder of the International Slow Food movement, participated in a discussion on the future of the movement, moderated by German television host Hansjürgen Rosenbauer.
With more than 80,000 members worldwide, the Slow Food movement educates consumers on the impacts of fast food production and consumption and advocates the preservation of local cuisines and gastronomic customs. Mr. Petrini and Anna-Lena Banzhaf, a student at Petrini's University of Gastronomic Sciences located in northern Italy, spoke about how to implement the movement's goal of finding the most direct route from farm to market. "Everyone has a right to eat well," Petrini said.
In keeping with the evening's Italian theme, the Hamburg-based chef Cornelia Poletto concocted a three-course pasta dinner. The sophisticated menu featured penne fredde with fennel salami, orecchiette with buffalo mozzarella, and pasta chitarra with duck ragout.
Inside the Gropius Mirror Restaurant – a heated tentlike structure constructed for the event – the atmosphere was much more casual than in most bastions of fine dining. Diners nibbled on cheese platters and no dress code was enforced. Bad table manners went unpunished, and there was an elegant yet unpretentious ambiance appropriate to an audience drawn together by mutual love of cinema and haute cuisine – a winning combination that, in this case, provided plenty of food for thought.