ReFrame's food offerings

In the past nine years, I've come to greatly anticipate the last weekend in January. It's the weekend of the ReFrame Film Festival and I know I'm going to be challenged, moved, questioned, propelled to act about something that had escaped my awareness previously. I feel very grateful to the amazing team of staff and volunteers who pull this event together. Without their commitment and hard work, I would never be able to enjoy the incredible diversity of socially engaged documentaries that the festival brings to our community. So yesterday I picked up a pass and started to read about the 63 films that make the festival's menu.

festival pass smaller file This year, the festival runs from Friday, January 25th to Sunday, January 27th.

While checking out the festival's website will enable you to see the full listing of this year's offerings, I would like to draw your attention to three food-related movies.

Bitter Seeds by director Micha X. Peled will be shown on Saturday, January 26th at 11:15 am at the Venue.

“Films like this can change the world.” Alice Waters

Every 30 minutes a farmer in India kills himself in despair because he can no longer provide for his family. Large farms have prospered, but most farmers find it increasingly more difficult to make a living off their land.

Cotton farmer Ram Krishna is at the epicentre of the suicide crisis region and struggling to keep his land. Will he be the next one to die? His neighbour’s daughter, Manjusha, is determined to set aside village traditions and become a journalist. She decides that Ram Krishna’s plight will be her first assignment.

This “beautifully told and deeply disturbing” documentary follows a season in the life of a farming community – moving from villagers to Monsanto seed salesmen and corporate executives to critic Vandana Shiva – skilfully and masterfully weaving together “a rich tapestry of compelling human stories and subplots.” Bitter Seeds raises critical questions about the human cost of genetically modified agriculture and the future of food cultivation and farming.

Awards:  International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), two awards: Best Green Screen Documentary and Oxfam Global Justice Award, 2012; Jury Award, Green Film Festival, Seoul, 2012; Special Jury Commendation, Port Townsend Film Festival, 2012

Sponsor: Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace

At 3:10 pm on Saturday at Market Hall, you will have the opportunity to watch, Dal Puri Diaspora, the revealing journey of West Indian rotis across three continents.


From India to Trinidad to Toronto and other far-flung places, the moist, doughy, flatbread-wrapped curry dish known as dal puri – or roti, to those of us in North America – has experienced a remarkable passage across space and time. It’s a moveable feast that links colonialism, migration, and the globalization of tastes.

Toronto-based documentarian Richard Fung set out to find the origins of his favourite childhood food. He found a food industry based in the slave trade, but he also discovered the cultural commonality of a tasty staple that knows no borders. The recipe for dal puri travelled with indentured workers from India’s Gangetic Plain to southern Caribbean colonies in the 19th century. In the 1960s the wrapped roti migrated from Trinidad to North America, where it is known as Caribbean or West Indian roti.

As the dish moved from home fire to street stall to restaurant chain, and from festival to fast food, the flatbread was radically transformed in ingredients, cooking method, ways of eating, and identity. Featuring interviews with leading food writers and scholars, this film, as one critic puts it, “works equally well as simple food porn; expect to leave hungry.”

Sponsor: Jamaican Self-Help (JSH)

The final documentary focusing on food is In Organic We Trust, which will be shown at 3:50 pm on Sunday, January 27th, at Showplace.

An eye-opening exposé of the food industry.

Director Kiplin Pastor goes on a personal and investigative journey across America to find the true meaning of the word “organic.”

What began as a grassroots movement of small-scale farmers has turned into a $30-billion industry in which large corporate operations have replaced small, diversified organic farms and the “certified organic” label has become a marketing tool. Hearing from farmers, organic certifiers, scientists, and organic critics, the film reveals that despite the corporatization of organic, the original grassroots philosophy is making a comeback in many innovative forms.

Digging down into the content beneath the label and the truth behind the marketing, In Organic We Trust takes a balanced approach to clear up misconceptions about organic food while highlighting practical solutions that are transforming the way we grow and eat.

Awards:  Audience Award Dominican Republic Environmental Film Festival, 2012; Golden Palm Award, Mexican International Film Festival, 2012; Special Mention, Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival, Toronto, 2012

Sponsors: Linda and Alan Slavin and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Program