Messages around togetherness of meals and urgency to protect the Earth's nutrients among festival highlights
A still from Jennifer Abbott’s The Magnitude of All Things (2021)
Devour! The Food Film Fest is back for another year! Combining cinematic excellence with interactive cooking workshops, Devour Fest is a transformative food and film experience. The annual 6-day festival returns with a hybrid format of in-person attendance at its base in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, along with virtual attendance for patrons across Canada. Over the 6 days, there will be 47 events including film screenings, special programs, and cooking workshops. Devour! is Canada’s largest food & film festival, and the biggest of its kind globally. In 2019, Devour! welcomed a record 14,463 food and film lovers to Wolfville. As a response to unprecedented times, the festival’s theme of Global Indigenous Cinema & Cuisine will reach audiences as far into the world as possible. A small segment of programming is geo-blocked to Nova Scotia and Canada.
Among the festival highlights are women-led documentaries and short films that convey resonating messages around the togetherness of meals, the accessibility to healthy eating, and the urgency to protect the earth’s nutrients. Lina Li's Have You Eaten? exudes the warmth and comfort of a family uniting during the pandemic. Living in downtown Toronto to attend school, Lina Li returns to her home in Thornhill and to her mother's cooking. In this personal five-minute short film, Lina and her mother share intimate conversations about immigration to Canada, barriers to communicating, embracing cultural dishes, and the power of mother-daughter love. 'Have You Eaten?' is a lovely reflection of how sharing meals, and the safety of home, brings a family together.
Linda Mai Green's Chishkale: The Blessing of the Acorn centers on Bernadette Smith, from the Manchester band of Pomo Indians. She weaves the story of her Tan Oak conservation efforts in Northern California into a contemporary Indigenous dance piece created to honor the sacred traditional food of California Natives. The Acorn Dance is performed on Sogorea Te’ Land Trust in Huichin on Ohlone Territory (Albany, CA). This five-minute short film is a personal slice of life about honoring ancestors, the responsibility of continuing tradition, and feeding the Earth through cultural practices.
From Canada, Rebecca Thomassie’s short film Names for Snow follows Thomassie, an Inuk woman, around Kangirsuk as she learns the 52 Inuktitut words for snow. From the USA, co-directors Tracy Nguyen-Chung and Ciara Lacy bring their short film Connection centering on fly fishing. On a trip to Washington to cast for steelhead, lifelong angler Autumn Harry unpacks what it means to overcome her own image of fly fishers, and uses the sport to fight for conservation.
A still from Linda Mai Green's Chishkale: The Blessing of the Acorn (2021)
On the documentary feature side, also accessible to viewers across Canada during the festival, cover different sides to the frontline of climate change. Co-Directors Rebecca Harrell Tickell and Joshua Tickell explain why regenerating the world’s soils is a hopeful solution to stabilizing climate, replenish lost ecosystems, and create abundant food supplies. Their documentary Kiss The Ground, narrated and featuring Woody Harrelson, plants seeds of information on healthy soil and the global issue of massive erosion. Soothing as Harrelson's narration is, the plethora of star-studded appearances following his lead feel distasteful and distracting from the Indigeous origins of regenerative agriculture approaches. Jennifer Abbott’s new documentary, The Magnitude of All Things, merges stories from the frontlines of climate change with recollections of the loss of her sister, drawing intimate parallels between personal and planetary grief. Nations featured are Nunatsiavut, Kichwa, Pachamama, Sápara Nation, and Kichwa First People of Santa Ana.
“Devour! The Food Film Fest is an important vehicle for advancing awareness of Indigenous culture by celebrating First Nation communities, filmmaking, and food,” says Chief Sidney Peters of the Glooscap First Nation. “Glooscap First Nation has successfully collaborated with the festival in years past to celebrate Mi’kmaq culture and bring this experience to visitors from around the world. I’m looking forward to our continued partnership as we celebrate Global Indigenous Cinema and Cuisine at Devour! 2021 and for years to come.”
The 11th edition of Devour! The Food Film Fest runs from October 18-24, 2021.