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Barbican Cinema - Eat The Screen: Films to Feed Conversations About Food

Sat 1 July - Thu 24 Aug, 2023

This summer, Barbican Cinema is delighted to offer a smorgasbord of films and conversations exploring food and food culture in Eat the Screen: Films to Feed Conversations About Food.

Food is at the heart of our cultures and identities, but increasingly it is also at the centre of contemporary debate around sustainability, farming, the power of big supermarkets, food waste, and whether (or not) to eat meat or animal products. 

This curated season of short films, features and documentaries – many with introductions and ScreenTalks – will feed into these discussions, and also celebrate the universal riches found in home cooking, locally-produced ingredients, a shared meal, a favourite local restaurant. The programme, which stretches over two months, includes a screening tailored for the youngest audiences in Barbican’s Family Film Club and a free Senior Community Screening.

Foodies, growers, cooks and environmentalists will find plenty to chew over: Tom Boothe’s Food Coop looks at all aspects of New York’s Park Slope Food Coop from shelf-stacking to cheese-buying, compost detail, and the dreaded disciplinary committee; Daniele De Michele’s The Villains considers whether traditional Italian ingredients and cooking can survive; Fred Wiseman’s 1976 documentary Meat is a clear-eyed account of the making, selling and marketing of meat; Jumana Manna’s Foragers considers the right to gather wild food; Carla Simon’s Alcarràs sensitively tells her personal experiences of the pressures of market forces on her family’s peach farm; from Tokyo John Daschbach’s Come Back Anytime looks at the role of food and restaurants in creating community; and in Gleaners and I, Agnes Varda interviews an array of foragers, freegans and activists all upholding the ancient French tradition of “gleaning”.

Eat the Screen includes three programmes of tasty shorts. In Family Film Club’s Little Pickles, bite-size animations are curated with the youngest foodies in mind; in London Feeds Itself... on Film, curated in partnership with author and food writer Jonathan Nunn, contemporary and archive documentaries show how London has fed itself during the past 50 years; and in Short Cuts eight documentaries from around the world look at snail-hunting in Taiwan, maple syrup tapping in Canada and mushroom foraging in China, and more.

Tamara Anderson, Barbican Cinema curator, saysCurating this season has taken me on a nourishing tour of the world, celebrating the joy of food and eating, whilst feeding a general curiosity on the subject. If there is one thing clear, it is that food – and everything around it – makes for a deeply complex subject, and no one solution fits all. This season presents a kind of constellation of ideas about what food is, or means: a cultural inheritance, craft, a job, a path out of the lowest rungs of society to a more stable future. I’m proud and excited to bring this season to audiences, and I look forward to the many conversations it is bound to elicit.”



Family Film Club: Little Pickles (U*) 
Running-time: 60 min approx.  Suitable for ages 3-7.  
Sat 1 Jul, 11am, Cinema 2  

A cheerful collection of short animations, specially foraged for Family Film Club’s very youngest foodies.  On the menu, the best new and recent international animation – a mixture of stop-motion, hand-drawn and CGI – all with a food theme. A grumpy gorilla makes friends with a happy banana; two brown bears go in search of truffles; a genie pops out of a tin of pasta; two rabbits bake bread rolls for lunch; and the peas, shitake mushrooms, lotus root and other ingredients of a traditional Japanese New Year stew come to life.  

Franzy’s Soup Kitchen (Georgia/France 2021, dir Ana Chubinidze, 8 min)
Fully Cooked For You (Japan 2011, dir Yuka Imabayashi, 4 min)
The Genie in a Tin of Ravioli (France 2006, dir Claude Barras, 8 min)
Happy Banana (Iran 2020, dir Reyhane Kavosh, 8 min)
Hungry Bear Tales: Truffles (Czech Republic 2019, dirs Katerina Karhankova, Alexandra Majova, 7 min)
Mogu & Perol (Japan 2018, dir Tsuneo Goda, 8 min)
Spot and Splodge: Baking (Sweden 2013, dirs Uzi Geffenblad, Lotta Geffenblad, 7 min) 
Spot and Splodge: Losing Track (Sweden 2013, Dirs Uzi Geffenblad, Lotta Geffenblad, 7 min) 

The films will screen in the original-language versions, with English subtitles on screen and read aloud for the youngest ones in the audience.

Foragers + Soup Over Bethlehem (12A) + ScreenTalk with director Jumana Manna (via Zoom) 
Palestine 2022, dir Jumana Manna, 64 min

Palestine 2006, dir Larissa Sansour, 9 min

Sun 9 Jul, 5.30pm, Cinema 2
For centuries, Palestinians have used za’atar (wild oregano) and ‘akkoub (a thistle-like plant) in their cooking.
The plants grow wild and are traditionally foraged by Palestinians, but in Israel today both are deemed “protected species” by the government, and penalties for picking include hefty fines and prison sentences.  

Weaving together fiction, documentary and archive footage, Foragers follows the plants from the mountainside to the kitchen, taking in chases between foragers and the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority, courtroom defences, and a delicious-looking lunch.    

Screening beforehand, Soup Over Bethlehem depicts an ordinary Palestinian family at dinner where a culinary discussion about the national dish 'mloukhieh' soon evolves into a political one.   

Co-presented with SAFAR Film Festival, as part of their Nakba 75 focus.


Food Coop (U*) + ScreenTalk 

France 2016, dir Tom Boothe, 97 min

Tue 11 Jul, 8.30pm, Cinema 3  

This insightful and amusing documentary made by Tom Boothe looks at all aspects of New York’s Park Slope Food Coop.  

Founded in Brooklyn in 1973, the Park Slope Food Coop - where people are prepared to queue up for 40 minutes at the check-out, and travel for two hours on public transport to get there - now has over 16,000 owner-members. Each works there roughly 3 hours a week, in return earning the right to shop. The quality of food is outstanding; prices are up to 40% cheaper than elsewhere. Is this, as one interviewee claims, ‘the greatest social experiment’ in the USA?  

+ ScreenTalk with Tom Boothe, filmmaker and founder of the Paris food coop La Louve; Arthur Potts-Dawson, chef and co-founder of London food coop The People’s Supermarket. Chaired by Tim Lang, author of Feeding Britain: Our Food Problems and How to Fix Them, and Professor of Food Policy at City University of London's Centre for Food Policy.  


London Feeds Itself... on Film (U*) + Panel 

Total event running-time: 2hrs approx

Fri 14 Jul, 6.30pm, Cinema 1 

London's vernacular food culture can often be found in its margins, in its outer areas and suburbs, and spaces like shopping centres, ‘caffs’ and markets, where Londoners eat, sell, produce and distribute food every day without fanfare.  

These spaces and people have often been documented on film – professional feature films, news reports, short films, or amateur videos. The selection of films, curated in partnership with Jonathan Nunn, documents how London has fed itself during the past 50 years – from historical role of Brixton Market to the contemporary Latin American food scene at Elephant and Castle and the Muslim food culture of Whitechapel Road. 

+ Panel with food writer Jonathan Nunn, food writer and editor of London Feeds Itself, and other guests to be announced.  


Feeding Lewisham: Foodbanks in Crisis (UK 2021, dirs Cara Bowen, Tom Coleville, Dominic Soar, 12 min)

Beigels Already (UK 1992, dir Debbie Shuter, 10 min)
Pie & Mash (UK 2016 dir/prod, Simon Poon Tip, 4 min)
E. Pellicci (UK 2016, dir/Prod Simon Poon Tip, 4 min)

plus more titles to be announced

With thanks to the BFI National TV Archive. 


Come Back Anytime + Fugetsu-do (U*)
Japan 2021, dir John Daschbach, 81 min, HOH captioned 
US 2020, dir Kaia Rose, 13 min digital  

Thu 20 Jul 6.35pm, Cinema 3   

For over forty years Masamoto Ueda and his wife Kazuko have been serving delicious soy-based ramen from their tiny restaurant in a quiet corner of Tokyo. In that time, they have attracted scores of devoted customers who all love the delicious food – and the warm welcome. 

For Masamoto, the restaurant has given him purpose beyond a mere livelihood: it has made a life. Some regulars have become friends, spending weekends at his small market garden, and accompanying him on trips to harvest bamboo shoots and wild mountain yams. Now, as Masamoto contemplates retirement, everyone resolves to truly appreciate this special place, food and community of friends, before it is gone forever.  

Screening beforehand, the short film Fugetsu-do profiles the much-loved Japanese-American sweet shop in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. 

Please note: This event is HOH captioned – there will be text description of significant sound effects as well as dialogue.


Short Cuts (15)
Total running-time: 90 mins approx.

Thu 27 Jul, 6.30pm, Cinema 3 

Curated with a curious foodie audience in mind, this programme brings together food stories from Mali, Canada, China and beyond.  Meet the latest intake at the Gansu Dingle Noodle School in Lanzhou, China, where students learn the art and business of making hand-pulled noodles.

Follow people hunting for snails, foraging mushrooms, tapping maple trees for their syrup, and setting up a roadside chicken rotisserie. Hear from the men on the meat-packing line at a plant in Jeromesville, Ohio, about how they situate their labour in their own minds, and bodies.  


Bamako Chicken (Mali 2015, dir Habib Yazdi, 3 min)

Fleshwork (US 2023, dir Lydia Cornett, 7 min)
Noodle School (US/China 2018, dir Jia Li, 16 min)
The Raw and the Cooked (Taiwan 2022, dirs Lisa Marie Malloy, Dennis Zhou, 20 min)
Sketches of Mushrooms (US 2023, dir Jia Li, 10 min)
Sugar Shack Tales (Canada 2016, dir Nicolas Paquet, 15 min)
plus more titles to be announced

Warning: this programme includes footage of animal butchery.  


The Gleaners and I (PG) + Introduction 

France 2000, dir Agnes Varda, 82 min

Wed 9 Aug 6.45pm, Cinema 3  

Criss-crossing France, Agnes Varda meets people on both sides of the food waste equation: the farmers and winemakers, facing their own pressures, who leave a portion of their crops to rot in the fields, and many others who scout for leftovers, whether out of necessity, custom, or a refusal to participate in our contemporary systems of food production and consumption.  

Varda contemplates the inequalities in French society, and the callousness of certain modern practices – supermarkets that poison their rubbish with bleach, for instance. But this is no dry, food waste lecture. This is a film interested in people, and in the resourcefulness and creativity of their scavenging, salvaging and collecting.  

+ Introduction by Phil Holtam, Sussex gleaning coordinator for Feedback, who co-ordinate the UK’s Gleaning Network.  


Alcarràs (15)

Spain/Italy 2022, dir Carla Simon, 120 min digital 

Wed 16 Aug 6.25pm, Cinema 3
+ Mon 21 Aug 11.45am, Cinema 2 – free Senior Community Screening  


Based on director Carla Simon’s own experience growing up on a peach farm, but spiralling out into fiction, this complex, sensitive film considers the pressures of market forces on a family farm.  

For three generations, the Solé family have been growing peaches in the Catalan village of Alcarràs. They are getting ready for harvest when their landlord announces he’s decided to grub up their orchards and replace them with fields of solar panels. Jordi, dad of the family, is told he can retrain as a solar panel engineer, he’ll make more money that way. 

Alcarras follows the various fractures that open up in the family as the news sinks in, and with all the other pressures of a farming life piling up: will the crop fail, will the rabbits eat it all, and will the supermarkets pay a decent price?  


The Villains (U*) + ScreenTalk with director Daniele De Michele  

Italy 2018, dir Daniele De Michele, 74 min digital 

Sat 19 Aug 6.40pm, Cinema 3  

Meet four Italian holdouts against commercial farming and the homogenization of food culture – all “villains” in the eyes of corporate agribusiness and EU lawmakers.  

Salvatore farms his market garden organically and is reviving an ancient local wheat variety. Luigina sells fresh vegetables and preserves at a local farmers’ market. Modesto runs his dairy farm on traditional lines, milking his small herd by hand, and making his own ricotta and caciocavallo cheeses. The Galasso brothers, from a long line of fishermen, farm mussels off the coast of Puglia.

All find inspiration in the traditional practices of previous generations and see themselves as upholding a kind of excellence in food that falls outside, or is threatened by, the EU’s many laws and food quality schemes. At stake, ultimately, is Italian cooking itself, as it has come down to us: will it survive, or disappear?  


Meat (18) + Introduction

US 1976, dir Frederick Wiseman, 113 min

Thu 24 Aug 8.35pm, Cinema 2 

In 1976, the great American documentarian Frederick Wiseman visited the Monfort Meat Packing Company in Colorado, one of America’s largest meat processing works, to observe ‘animal fabrication’ – the process by which cattle and sheep become consumer commodities. 

The film he brought back tracks the animals’ entire journey from feedlot to hamburger patty, taking in the packing plant, salesroom and back-office. The slaughterhouse scenes are graphic, but this is no outraged exposé: it is a clear-eyed account of the making, selling and marketing of the meat. 

+ Introduction by Rob Percival, Head of Food Policy at the Soil Association, and author of The Meat Paradox: Eating, Empathy and the Future of Meat (Little, Brown, 2023).  

Warning: this film contains graphic scenes of real animal slaughter