EXCLUSIVE – Last night British journalist Stefan Gates, with Marc Perkins the brains behind the BBC series Cooking in the Danger Zone, was presented with the Slow Food on Film Golden Snail Award for Best Television Series by Roberto Burdese, president of Slow Food Italy, and Stefano Sardo, the artistic director of the festival.
Gates was suprised but clearly content at receiving the award. He told how the series, unique in its approach to food journalism, was made as a way of giving greater exposure to current affairs through the many food issues (often political) round the world.
In the series, Gates travels to the world’s conflict zones, often putting himself in extreme situations, sampling local foods to understand how locals live and survive.
In one episode he visits Burma to see how the Keran people survive. When we see how the Burmese army use food as a weapon to keep the Keran people from gaining independence, the meaning of Gates’s earlier comment that ‘Food is at the basis of many wars and conflicts’ becomes all too clear.
‘No-one has ever asked these people simple questions like “How do you survive on a daily basis?” ,’ explained Gates. ‘Yet when asked they are incredibly willing to tell their stories. They want to tell their stories. When you are invited into someone’s kitchen, it is a very intimate space. Sometimes the kitchen is the only room that people possess, so you immediately touch a cord with them. These people are not just refugees, they are complex, living, rounded people with sensitivities. They are ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.’
Other television programs in the same prize category were Chinese Restaurants by Cheuk Kwan (Canada), Los latidos la tierra by Sonia Lera (Spain), Un mercat retratat by Tana Collados (Spain), Moovy Food by Giancarlo Matcovich (Italy/Germany) and Global Food by various directors (France/Italy).
Today’s main event, the International Convention, will focus on the hotly debated topic of recent years ‘Food on TV- How is it served?’. Using examples and reports from Italy and the rest of the world, the discussion will analyse the current state of affairs, exploring ways in which this complex subject can be used as an instrument for education, entertainment, current affairs, popular science, travel and other areas.
Other films of the day are The Burger and the King: the life and cuisine of Elvis Presley at 6pm in the Sala Officinema/Mastroianni at the Cinema Lumière, a documentary about Elvis and his eating habits that suggests his true love was food, not music. At 6.30pm, the Cinema Lumière will premiere Alla ricerca del grande fiume, the story of last year’s bike ride along the Po by students from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo to discover the territory, land and culture of riverside communities.
The evening will end in style at the Cinema Arlecchino at 8pm with a screening of The Secret of the Grain/La Graine et Le Mulet, a film that enchanted spectators at the Venice Film Festival in 2007.