Movie News & Reviews

Sacramento Food Film Festival: Movies, food, plenty of discussions

Three veterans, from left, Sonia Kendrick, Althea Raiford and Anna Mann, appear in “Terra Firma,” which screens Wednesday.
Three veterans, from left, Sonia Kendrick, Althea Raiford and Anna Mann, appear in “Terra Firma,” which screens Wednesday. Anthony-Masterson Photography Inc.

Many films dealing with food and farming tend to trigger a wide range of audience reactions, from anger to inspiration.

But when the movies end and the lights come up, there often isn’t an immediate way to channel those impulses.

This year’s Sacramento Food Film Festival – it started 2012 – changes all that. Along with the showing of several films that include political policy and social justice angles, the festival will provide supporting information, panel discussions and opportunities to get involved.

With 11 scheduled events, the festival runs through March 29. Among the issues the festival plans to follow up with information are a proposed urban agriculture law that would allow food grown in residential yards to be sold, and help for military veterans to heal and find a new way of life through farming.

“There are four other food film festivals in the country, but what’s unique about ours is we really try to tie it to policy and we are unique in Sacramento to be able to do that,” said Amber Stott, founder of the nonprofit Food Literacy Center, which has organized the festival.

The premiere event Thursday night (March 19, 6-9 p.m.) at Goldfield Trading Post will feature a screening of the winning entries in the Sacramento Food Film Festival Shorts contest, and continues March 20 with “Soul of a Banquet” about Cecilia Chiang, who is known for introducing authentic cuisine to Americans. That movie is at Frank Fat’s catering facility in Old Sacramento, 1015 Front St. Tickets are $55 and include an authentic Chinese dinner prepared by Frank Fat’s executive chef, Mike Lim. VIP tickets are $70 and include a dumpling-making class before the dinner.

An urban country bar and restaurant? A catering site? The Food Festival is leaving the traditional movie theater behind and showing its movies in a series of nontraditional locales that bring audiences closer to the subject matter and expand on the idea of what it means to watch a movie.

Among the other film locations are a brewery taproom, a city park and a coffee shop.

On March 21 at McClatchy Park in Oak Park, the festival hosts a pop-up picnic that will include live music and a free screening of several short films tied to urban agriculture. That’s an important topic, says Stott, because Sacramento community activists are trying to get a law passed that would allow people to sell the food they grow on their property. The Sacramento City Council is expected to vote next week on the proposed ordinance.

Among those who will be on hand to provide more information Saturday will be Matt Read, a community organizer advocating in favor of the proposed ordinance. He will sell produce from partner farms, encourage people to attend the City Council meeting and be on hand to answer questions about how the new law would work.

“I’m really excited that the timing of the film festival is what it is,” Read said. “This ordinance is important because it will increase food access for a lot of people who haven’t had it. It makes it economically feasible for more people to grow more food.”

Along those lines, the festival will host a bus tour (tickets are $45) to take participants to three urban farms and feed them and provide a side of political persuasion.

“Every time people get on the bus, they will be served a bite from a local chef who is a proponent of the ordinance,” said Stott. “They will watch a short film, and then they will hear from a local expert who will talk about various aspects of the ordinance.”

The documentary “Terra Firma” provides a look at three female military veterans who have turned to farming after struggling to deal with the lingering effects of war. A panel discussion after the film will include one of the stars, Sonia Kendrick, and Kelly Carisle, a local female veteran who is now farming. (5 p.m. March 25 at the Central Library Galleria, 828 I St., Sacramento)

To close the festival, the documentary “Food Chains” will follow farmworkers in south Florida who created the Fair Food Program, a partnership with farmers, workers and retail food companies that mandates living wages and humane conditions for those working on participating farms. (3:30 p.m. March 29 at Turn Verein, 3349 J St., Sacramento)

After the film, there will be a panel discussion on the rights of farmworkers. Among the panelists will be “Food Chains” director Sanjay Rawal.

Call The Bee’s Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099. Follow him on Twitter @Blarob.

Sacramento Film Food Festival

The 11 films are shown in various sites. Through March 29. Some events are free.

For times, venues, reservations and ticket sales: Other information: (916) 329-1249