With more than 200 films screening at eight theaters in 11 days, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) can be overwhelming.
Luckily, the Independent’s food and wine writer Matt Kettmann narrowed down his favorite cuisine-centric films at the festival.
One of the strangest and most sought-after food in the world is the sea urchin. From the director of the “Somm” series, Jason Wise heads beneath the sea in this documentary about sea urchin divers off the coast of Santa Barbara.
“He wanted to do a nature film about humans, and why we eat weird things, and he does a really good job of that,” says Kettmann.
"The Delicacy" screens Friday, Jan 24 at Metro Theatre 2 at 8:20 pm; and Saturday, Jan 25 at Metro Theatre 3 at 2:40 pm.
“The Wandering Chef”
Chef Jiho Im travels the Korean peninsula on foot for wild ingredients like acorns, weeds, and moss. Along the way, he cooks meals and develops deep relationships with the elders he meets.
“A lot of them thought these wild foods were poisonous, and he’s showing them that they’re not only tasty, but healthy,” says Kettmann.
When one of Im’s closest friends dies, he faces the challenge of his lifetime: cooking a 108-course feast in her honor.
"The Wandering Chef" screens on Thursday, Jan 23 at Metro Theatre 3 at 11:40 am; and Friday, Jan 24 at Metro Theatre 1 at 11 am.
“Man in the Field”
This film profiles artist and chef Jim Denevan, founder of Outstanding in the Field, an event company that reconnects people to farmers and the land by holding multi-course meals where the food is being grown.
“He took tables into farms way before farm-to-table was even a thing,” says Kettmann.
The character driven documentary follows Denevan as he sets long tables at country farms and urban gardens, on mountain tops and in sea caves, all while wrestling with his family’s history of mental illness.
"Man in the Field" screens on Saturday, Jan 18 at the Lobero Theatre at 7:30 pm; and Monday, Jan 20 at Metro Theatre 3 at 11:40 am.
“Born in a Ballroom”
This film explores the relationship between the Hütte Restaurant, its founder Eleanor Mailloux, and the rural Appalachian village she called home.
“It’s about this woman in this rural restaurant in Appalachia, and how she’s made it a destination for the area,” says Kettmann.
"Born in a Ballroom" screens on Friday, Jan 17 at Metro Theatre 1 at 11 am; Sunday, Jan 19 at Metro Theatre 1 at 2 pm; and Monday, Jan 20 at the Lobero Theatre at 11 am.