SIFF, as you've probably heard by now, is upon us. Feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of choosing from 450 films? Consider narrowing your focus. If, like me, you spend the majority of your time thinking about, eating, and cooking food (extra points if, like me, you also happen to be a breastfeeding mother who is keeping another human alive with food your body is magically producing all day, everyday), you should check out SIFF's brand-new Culinary Cinema program.
The Culinary Cinema program includes 11 films related to food, drink, and restaurants that will screen throughout the three-week festival. Of the movies I've seen, I can't recommend For Grace highly enough; what is ostensibly a documentary about the opening of chef Curtis Duffy's three-Michelin-star Chicago restaurant Grace is actually a deeply moving film about a hell of a lot more than food. It screens today (Fri May 15) and Sun May 17.
I also loved Little Forest, a seasonal quartet of quiet, short Japanese films divided into two programs, Summer/Autumn (Mon May 18, Tues May 19, Sun May 24) and Winter/Spring (Tues May 19, Sun May 24), sure to resonate with home cooks.
Other films that look great: City of Gold (Sat-Sun May 30-31), about Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles food critic/hole-in-the-wall champion Jonathan Gold, and Steak (R)evolution (Mon-Tues May 25-26), an international examination of what makes a great steak (marbling? cow massage?). Also included in the series: The Birth of Saké, Cooking Up a Tribute, King Georges, That Sugar Film, Sherry & The Mystery of Palo Cortado, and Sergio Herman: FUCKING PERFECT.
For those of you with a little extra cash to drop, this year SIFF is also launching six "Dinner and a Movie" events in partnership with local restaurants. A $125 ticket gets you a seat at a screening, then a seat at a table for a special chef's menu dinner. If you're going to splash out, I recommend For Grace and chef Caprial Pence's Bookstore Bar & Cafe (Sun May 17) and City of Gold at the new Dunbar Room in the revamped Sorrento Hotel, with a menu by chef Seth Caswell (Sun May 31). There's also one for Cooking Up a Tribute, a film I kind of hated, but the dinner after is at Jerry Traunfeld's Poppy, where the food is sure to be fantastic (Tues June 2).
The other Dinner and a Movie Events: King Georges and Loulay (Wed May 20), Messi and VUDE (uh, Velvet Underground Dining Experience...) (Sun May 24), and Steak (R)evolution and Manhattan (Tues May 26).