Below please find our annotated food filmography, including animated films and documentaries. Each entry in the following list contains a hyperlink to the film’s page on the International Movie Database. If the film is available in University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Media Resource Center, you will find its call number as well as a hyperlink to its page in the MRC database. Finally, you will find a brief synopsis of each title as it relates to food, and links to any student essays on the film. (Anything marked with an asterisk needs a new synopsis.) This work is in progress, so if you can think of films that we have omitted, or if you would like to contribute an annotation, please do post a reply and let us know!
3 Idiots. Hirani. 2009, India. Three friends, Rancho, Raju, and Farhan, are college roommates who dream to become engineers. After witnessing tragedies occur to other students at the hands of their brutal principal, Virus, they become scared, until Rancho sparks confidence in the other two over a dinner at Virus’ daughters’ wedding. This inspiring moment over delicious food at Mona’s wedding propels the friends into following the dreams that they want to follow, and not just becoming engineers like their parents desired them to be. Synopsis by Abhishek Das.
50 First Dates. Segal. 2004, USA. (65-DVD1780) Henry Roth (Adam Sandler) is a commitment-free man until he is introduced to the perplexing and gorgeous Lucy (Drew Barrymore). Within the first day they hit it off and Henry believes that he has met the woman of his dreams, until he discovers that she has short-term memory loss and forgets him every night. Set in Hukilua Café and the bustling restaurant atmosphere, every morning Henry woos her again and takes her on their “first date”. Beautiful cinematography by Jack Green highlights the picturesque Hawaiian environment and the thriving young love between the characters while using simple objects such as waffles to create humor. By Junessa Sladen-Dew.
301,302. Park. 1995, South Korea (65-DVD2155). Two aloof neighbors with tumultuous pasts live very different lifestyles in response to their traumas. 301, the chef, obsessively cooks elegant meals and engages in unattached sex to cope with the years she spent in a loveless marriage. 302, the writer, lives in extreme austerity, unable to eat or have sex as the result of years of sexual abuse by her step-father. When 301 decides to cook for the withering 302, the two become uneasy acquaintances and begin to rehash their past traumas. As their relationship escalates, it becomes clear that 302 will never be able to eat, presenting a unique impasse for the already unstable duo. This film explores the connection between sexual and culinary desire, as well as the symptoms of their complete absence. Carnality is at the very core of this disturbing, yet enthralling film. Synopsis written by Michael Palumbo.
A Feast at Midnight.A Feast at Midnight. Hardy. 1995, United Kingdom. A young boy, Magnus, is sent to a private school called Dryden Park where he is forced to consume bland food that he hates. In an effort to change the food culture at Dryden, Magnus makes friends with an older girl, Charlotte, and other friends to stand up to those that bully him and create a secret society that makes food illegally in the school. After gathering a following and showcasing his passion for cooking, he is thrown out of the school. From this point, he is able to reconnect with his father and follow his passion for food knowing he made a lasting effect on the people at Dryden. Synopsis by Abhishek Das.
The Adventures of Food Boy. Dane Cannon. 2008, USA. (No Call #) Disney Channel Original Movie about a teenage boy who discovers he has the ability to generate food from his hands. This film displays how food can be used to bring people together and it shows food being used not only as nourishment for the body, but nourishment for social well being and relationships. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
Age of Innocence. Scorsese. 1993, USA. (65-DVD3595) Based on the novel by Edith Wharton, a tale of 19th-century New York high society, in which a young lawyer falls in love with a woman separated from her husband, while he is engaged to the woman’s cousin. The film uses a series of formal dinner settings to reveal the power dynamics and class structures at work in New York society.*
Alice in Wonderland. Geronimi, Jackson, and Luske. 1951, USA. (65-DVD17034) Alice, a curious young girl, falls into an alternate world called Wonderland. Along her way, she encounters various food and drink that help or hinder her, such as a shrinking drink and a gigantifying cake. Various characters in Wonderland are also defined primarily by food: the Cook who uses too much pepper, the Caterpillar who teaches Alice about a shape-changing mushroom, the Knave of Hearts accused of stealing tarts, and, most famously, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse whose tea party Alice joins. Philip Ardagh comments on the significance of the edibles in Alice’s adventures here: https://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/eating-and-drinking-in-alices-adventures-in-wonderland. Synopsis by Shirley Pu.
American Beauty. Mendes, Sam. 1999. Lester Burnham is the focus of this dystopian film about a suburban American family that gets flipped upside down when the father (Kevin Spacey) starts to fantasize about his daughter’s best friend. The film follows the Burnham family as Lester’s cheerleading daughter starts dating the drug-dealing boy next door, real-estate agent wife begins an affair, and as he, himself quits his job to start doing drugs and working out – all for the attention of his daughter’s 16-year old best friend. The illusion of happy, picturesque suburban America is shattered as the viewer sees the last months of Lester’s life unfold. Synopsis by Madison Whalen. See essay on this film here.
American Pie. 1999.Weitz. Unites States. (65-V7723) The film that defined a generation and made the symbol of America, the apple pie, an unforgettable innuendo scarring the minds of generations to come. Jim Levenstein, Stiffler, Oz, and Finch are all high school friends trying to maneuver their way through the complex social jungle gym that is high school. Seeking the true path to love, each of these boys scatter along different routes to find the one love in this coming of age tale. *
Babe. Noonan, 1995, United States (65-DVD16965). Babe is the story of a pig who is transformed from potential food to quasi-human family member as he learns to provide an alternative value for his existence. After his mother is sent to “pig paradise”, Babe is won at a county fair by Farmer Hoggett and joins a working farm where he is adopted by a border collie. After discovering he is destined for the Christmas dinner table, Babe devotes his time to becoming a useful member of the family by learning to be a sheep-pig. The other farm animals have difficulty accepting the change in order. This film explores human categorization of animals, gender roles and the objectification of livestock. Written by Georgia Jeffrey.
Babette’s Feast. Axel. 1987, Denmark. French-Catholic refugee Babette Hersant takes work as a housemaid and cook for pious sisters Martine and Philippe, who lead the tiny Puritan congregation of their isolated village on the Danish Coast. When Babette miraculously wins the Paris lottery after years living in Denmark, she cooks a decadent French meal for her employers and their austere flock. The event, which the villagers originally fear will be a gluttonous “witches’ Sabbath,” renews the ties of faith and love that hold together the Puritan community; like the bread and wine of the Eucharist, Babette’s feast combines spiritual and bodily satiation. Synopsis by Brady Gilliam. See essay on this film here.
A Bad Mom’s Christmas. Moore & Lucas. 2017, United States (65-DVD22740) Three moms feel pressure to make Christmas the best for their families and their mothers. As one of the moms, Amy, tries her best to prepare a feast for their Christmas dinner, she is upstaged by her mother has her own ideas of what Christmas should be like. Synopsis written by Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez.
Beasts of the Southern Wild. Zeitlin. 2012, Russia. (65-DVD15243 c. 2) Beasts of the Southern Wild centers around a small girl named Hushpuppy as she learns to survive after her father is stricken with a fatal illness and her community is destroyed by a hurricane. Her evolving relationship with food emphasizes her progression to self-reliance. Synopsis by Willow Barefoot. See essay on this film here.
Beginning of the End. Gorden. 1957, USA.*
Beowulf. Zemekis. 2007, USA. The legendeary Geatish warrior Beowulf must fight and defeat the monster Grendel who is terrorizing Denmark, and later, Beowulf must also fight Grendel’s avenging mother. Feasting in the film becomes an important symbol of community and allows the perpetuation of memories, as well as the preservation of traditions. Synopsis written by Jennifer Lyu.
The Big Feast, Marco Ferreri, France, 1973.(65-DVD8238) This film is about a pilot, a cook, a TV star, and a judge who decide to eat themselves to death with fancy cuisine. This film displays the idea that food can be a catalyst for gluttony. There are also various culinary gender roles placed within this film like only men are socially accepted to eat sloppy. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel dir. Madden. 2011. USA. (65-DVD14911 c. 2) British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways. Acceptance of the new culture is charted via food choices, and attention to those who serve it.*
Big Night. Scott and Tucci. 1996, USA. Two Italian immigrant brothers struggle to keep their family restaurant in business while competing with a popular Italian-American restaurant across the street. The brothers wrestle with ideas of a cook’s artistic integrity versus a businessman’s financial know-how. The brothers cook one epic final feast in hopes of saving their restaurant. Synopsis written by Markella Patitsas.
Bon Appetit. Pinillos. 2010, Spain.A romantic comedy centered on two young cooks and a female sommelier working in a famous Zurich luxury restaurant.*
Bottle Shock. Miller. 2008*
Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Edwards. 1961, USA. (65-V688) A money-hungry socialite becomes acquainted with her new neighbor and invites him into her extravagant lifestyle. Holly Golightly and Paul Varjak indulge in expensive drink despite their financial dependence on others, representing their phony identities. Although Holly appears put-together she suffers from unidentified neurosis, which is only calmed when she breakfasts on pastries and coffee in front of Tiffany’s storefront, a visual feast of the glamour she longs for. Holly’s poor cooking skills and empty refrigerator are representative of her scrambled personality and unsustainable life. Synopsis by Jennifer Na.
The Breakfast Club. Hughes. 1985, USA. Five high school students, each a member of a different clique, are forced to spend a Saturday in detention together with a villainous principal. Despite their perceived differences, they soon come to realize that they have more in common than they thought. The food in the film essentially stands as a representation of the stereotype that labels each teen and the clique that they belong to. Synopsis written by Jennifer Lyu.
Burnt. Wells. 2015, USA. (65-DVD20353). Two Michelin star chef Adam Jones returns to London after completing his self imposed penance of shucking one million oysters in New Orleans. This was his penance for mistakes of the past that hurt his closest friends – friends he now persuades to financially back his new restaurant and pursuit of his third Michelin star. In addition to showing Adam’s remarkable gustatory and culinary skills, it also depicts his transformation from a hot-tempered chef that screams and throws dishes in the kitchen to a person who is able to make food that astounds, but also knows the importance of the love that must go into making that food. Synopsis by Tori Placentra.
Call Me By Your Name. Guadagnino. 2017, United States. (Not available) Set during the breathtaking summer of 1983 in Lombardy, France, the plot follows the coming-of-age love story between a boy and a slightly older man. The gentle but passionate movie follows the 6-weeks of summer and the growing romance of the men through intensely realized but weighted moments creating an energy similar to a thriller. Throughout the movie, scenes follow the transformation of passionate love through averted eyes at dinner tables, shared picnics, hidden gifts of food and finally in the climax of the movie where a peach is used as an erotic tool for the men. The underlying message of hidden sexuality is beautifully portrayed through the lens of both nature and organic food, building a raw and immediate energy from the opening credits to the final lingering scene. Synopsis by Junessa Sladen-Dew.
Cannibal! The Musical Parker. 1993, Parker.The sole survivor of an ill-fated mining expedition tells how his taste for gold was replaced by that of human flesh.*
Charlotte’s Web. Winick, 2006, United States (65-DVD4017). A film about a terrific, radiant spring pig and his desperation to avoid becoming bacon before the first snow fall of winter. Fern, the daughter of a farmer, develops an attachment to Wilbur who as the runt of a litter was almost shot dead by her father. The film explores how our attachment to animals as pets and as categorized beings for consumption can cause challenging conflicts. Written by Georgia Jeffrey.
Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie. dir. Buñuel. 1972, USA. (65-DVD8149)A surreal, virtually plotless series of dreams centered around six middle-class people and their consistently interrupted attempts to have a meal together.*
Cheeni Kum. Balki. 2007, India. Buddhadev, a 64 year-old-chef and owner of London’s top Indian restaurant, falls in love with a very young, traditional woman, Nina, after they meet over a dish at his restaurant. After a sequence of dates at his restaurant over different dishes each meal, they decide to travel to India and ask for a blessing from Nina’s father, Omprakash. He declines, but after tasting Buddhadev’s authentic and world-class cooking and sensing his undying love for his daughter, Omprakash deems Buddhadev fit to marry his daughter, and they move back to England to marry. Synopsis by Abhishek Das.
Chef. Favreau. 2014, USA. Carl Casper is a professional chef who loses his job at a popular, affluent Los Angeles restaurant and decides to start his own food truck business selling traditional Cuban food. The shift in food that Carl prepares, from the delicate American cuisines to the Cuban cubanos, reflects a parallel shift in the values Carl possesses throughout the film. The restaurant cuisines ultimately portray his deep concern for his self-image and reputation, whereas the cubanos take him back to his roots and he begins to prioritize his life and see the true value of friendship and family. Synopsis written by Jennifer Lyu. See essay on this film here.
Chef’s Special Velilla. 2008, Spain. (65-DVD15290) Maxi (Javier Cámara) thinks his life is perfect. He is a famous cook who owns a top hyped restaurant in Chueca (the gay district of Madrid), with his most important goal being to get the restaurant rated by the Michelin guide. He is living the homosexual lifestyle without problems and hangups, with his employees as his closest confidants -including Alex (Lola Dueñas) and Ramiro (Fernando Tejero). But when his son Edu (Junio Valverde) and daughter (who were born from an unsuccessful marriage) appear and a new neighbor, Horacio (Benjamín Vicuña) moves in (an attractive famous Argentinian ex-soccer player), they will completely turn his life upside down and make him question his values…. It has non-stop comedy twists involving Maxi, the children, the employees in the restaurant, the handsome neighbor, and Maxi’s parents. Just when you think you can’t laugh anymore, it takes things one step further.*
Chinese Feast. Tsui. 1995, Hong Kong. (65-DVD11143) Kit is a master chef who struggles balancing his work in the kitchen and his time spent with the woman whom he loves. When his girlfriend soon breaks off their relationship, Kit becomes an alcoholic and his sense of taste is lost. However, his life is turned around once more when he is asked by another restaurant owner, Au, to enter a cooking challenge and defeat the Super Group supremo in order to help save Au’s restaurant. Food and cooking ultimately becomes a healing mechanism for Kit, as it reflects his both his emotions and identity. Synopsis written by Jennifer Lyu.
Chocolat. Hallström. 2000, USA. (65-DVD721). Chocolat tells the story of Vianne Rocher, a chocolatier, and her daughter who travel across Europe and settle in a small town in rural France during the winter of 1959. Rocher opens a chocolate shop across from a church during lent and is met with some pushback from the conservative townspeople who are stuck in their traditional ways. However, after she coaxes them to taste her unbelievable chocolate during lent, the townspeople accept Rocher and her chocolate shop despite the mayor’s efforts to shut down her store. A group of drifters visit the small town, and Vianne meets a gypsy named Roux who helps her plan a “Grand Festival of Chocolate” on Easter Sunday. Synopsis by Christian Ortiz.
Chocolat. Denis. 1988*
Christmas in Connecticut. Godfrey. 1945, United States (Not Available). In her newspaper column, prominent food writer Elizabeth Lane pretends to live in a mansion in Connecticut, tend to her farm, and cook luscious, intricate dishes for her husband and child. In her articles she lives an idyllic American life, but in reality, she lives alone in a small apartment in the New York City, not at all the character she plays in print. She has gotten by on the lie for a long time, but when her newspaper editor asks that she and her “family” host a service member at their lodge for Christmas out of patriotic obligation, she must scramble to pull off the scene. One of the chief problems: she cannot cook for her life but is expected to prepare an immaculate Christmas feast with the food she has described in her column. To evade exposure, she convinces her dear friend Felix, a renowned chef who gives her the recipes to describe in her writing, to do the cooking for her. Elizabeth and Felix do not conform to the stereotypes or genders assigned to cooking, and thus are able to carry out the ruse because their friends don’t expect that a woman wouldn’t know her way around the kitchen, especially one who speaks so eloquently about doing so. The film combats pervasive gender stereotypes about women in the kitchen by showing just how silly antiquated views of the sexes can be. Synopsis by Jenna Holtz.
Chungking Express. Wong Kar-wai. 1994, Hong Kong. One after another, two cops wander through their lives looking for love amid the crowded Chungking Mansions area of Hong Kong. The characters experience memories of past romances, missed opportunities, and heartbreak as time passes around them. Packaged food becomes both a substitute and metaphor for love and loss in the busy streets of Hong Kong. Synopsis written by John Ligtenberg. See essay on this film here.
A Clockwork Orange. Kubrick. 1980, United States (65-DVD-6451) In a strange futuristic world, a gang-leader named Alex leads his “Droogs” through a series of horrific crimes. When they aren’t causing chaos, the gang hangs out at a sexually themed “milk bar” where they drink milk laced with a drug that fuels their physical and sexual violence. The milk represents the defiling got innocence and the result of being nurtured and nourished in this futuristic land. Synopsis written by Andrea Brucculeri.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Lord and Miller. 2009, USA. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs tells the story of a clumsy, failed inventor named Flint Lockwood. Swallow Falls, his home town, is forced to eat sardines because of the local sardine cannery – the town’s primary source of income. Tired of eating the fish, Flint invents what he calls “The Flint Lockwood Diatomic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator” that converts water into food. The device doesn’t work properly and sends food into the atmosphere, causing it to rain food all across Swallow Falls. The mayor tries to use his invention to help the community, but ignores the ensuing danger it will cause. Synopsis by Christian Ortiz.
Coffee and Cigarettes. Jarmusch. 2003, USA. Coffee and Cigarettes is a series of 11 vignettes that follow conversations between two or three people. Each conversation is in a restaurant where the characters, over cigarettes or tea and coffee, argue or discuss various obscure topics. However, there are themes that connect each vignette, including conversation about why cigarettes and coffee are bad for you and how you should drink more than coffee for lunch, celebrity worship, and Nikola Tesla’s belief that Earth is a conductor of acoustical resonance. Jim Jarmusch uses coffee or tea and cigarettes to depict how, even though they are a social lubricant, the two only help facilitate surface level conversation, many times creating awkwardness due to the lack of common ground. Synopsis by Christian Ortiz.
Coming to America. Landis. 1988, USA. (65-DVD240 c. 2) Prince Akeem, rightful heir to the throne of Zamunda is fed up with his extravagant lifestyle. On his 21st birthday his parents arrange his engagement to the daughter of a wealthy man from Zamunda. Although his wife-to-be is beautiful and obeys his every command, Akeem longs to find a woman who wants him for who he is and not what he has. Thus, Akeem embarks on a journey to find his true love, and future wife in America with his companion and servant Semmi. This movie highlights the stark contrast between what those with money have and those in the working class have. It also touches on the way Africa and African food is portrayed in America, which is contrasted with typical American junk food. Synopsis written by Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez.
Consuming Passions Foster. 1988, Portugal.A tragic mishap at a chocolate factory results in candy lovers getting an unexpected ‘extra’ in their sweets. The problem is that they want more!*
The Cook, the Thief, the Wife, and her Lover. Greenaway. 1989, USA.The wife of an oafish restaurant owner becomes bored with her husband and considers an affair with a regular patron.*
Daphne Does Dinner (2003 Frasier episode)*
Delicatessin. Caro and Jeunet. 1991, France. (65-DVD3010) Post-apocalyptic surrealist black comedy about the landlord of an apartment building who occasionally prepares a delicacy for his odd tenants.*
The Devil Doll. Browning. 1936, USA.*
Dinner and a Movie. Kors. 2001, Germany.*
Dinner at Eight (1933)*
Dinner at Fred’s (1997)*
Dinner at the Ritz (1937)*
A Dinner of Herbs (2000) (TV mini-series)*
Le Diner de Cons /The Dinner Game. Veber. 1998, France. (65-DVD12699 c. 2)Each week, Pierre and his friends organize what is called as “un dîner de cons”. Everyone brings the dumbest guy he could find as a guest. Pierre thinks his champ -François Pignon- will steal the show. Synopsis written by Laurence Chassaling.*
The Dinner Party (2007)*
Dinner Party (1999)*
Dinner Rush. Giraldi. 2000, UK.Is it just another evening at the hugely popular Italian restaurant of proprietor and bookmaker Louis Cropa in New York? Anything but as tonight’s guests include; a local police detective and his wife specially invited by the owner; on the balcony rival bookmaker gangsters from Queens who want to become partners in the restaurant; in the corner renowned food critic ‘the food nymph’ is her usual demanding self; and at the bar, seemingly unnoticed, is Ken. As the evening continues enter Duncan, inveterate gambler and sous-chef on-the-line in the frenetic kitchen downstairs, who acts as the catalyst that causes the evening to draw to its inevitable, explosive, deadly conclusion. Synopsis written by Mark Smith.*
Dinner with Friends. Jewison. 2001, USA. Based on the 1998 play by Donald Margulies, the film captures the lives of a happily married couple, Gabe and Karen, who are also world-traveling food critics, and another married couple, and Tom and Beth. Gabe and Karen later find out from Beth at the dinner table that she is getting a divorce from Tom, who has been unfaithful. Gabe and Karen soon begin to reevaluate the strength of their own seemingly tranquil relationship. Food essentially plays a nourishing role throughout the film, as well as the role of a mediator for social interactions. It also serves a deeper role in tying the body and soul together. Synopsis written by Jennifer Lyu.
Eat Drink Man Woman. Lee.1994, Taiwan. A father and his three daughters endeavor to reconcile tradition with modernization. Father and Senior Master Chef Chu uses carefully prepared meals as a means of communicating with his daughters who are growing distant. Many of the familial struggles emerge during the Sunday evening dinner ritual. Synopsis written by Markella Patitsas.
Eating Raoul. Paul Bartel. 1982, USA. (65-V815) As is hinted at by their surname, Paul and Mary Bland are a rather boring and prudish couple. The pair are discontent about their current social status, and want nothing more than to be able to quit their jobs and open up their very own restaurant. Synopsis by Christian Villacres.
Eat Pray Love. Murphy. 2010, USA. (65-DVD12131 c. 2A married woman realizes how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction. After a painful divorce, she takes off on a round-the-world journey to “find herself”.*
Eat Your Heart Out. Tucker. 2008, USA.In the heart of New York City, men are dying in very violent ways. They are being torn up and ripped apart…and eaten. The only connection is that they all die after hiring a prostitute. And searching for love in this city is Jeffrey…Jeffrey is a sad and lonely man. He hates his job, he hates his life and all he wants is a woman to shower with love and affection. Socially awkward and fearing rejection, Jeffrey finds his companionship with hookers. In a bizarre twist of fate, Jeffrey hires this hooker and almost instantly they fall madly in love. Now he has to find out just how much he is willing to accept in the name of true love…She is feeding on the men of New York City…and there is a lunatic that is hunting her down…and caught in the middle is Jeffrey, who only wanted to love and be loved. Synopsis written by Johnny la Guardia.*
Eddies Million Dollar Cookoff. Paul Hoen. 2003, USA. (No Call #) Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-off is a Disney Channel original movie about a young boy, Eddie Ogden, who struggles to balance his passions for both baseball and cooking. This film is one of many that tries to break stereotypes of gender roles through society, and does an excellent job by relating it to cooking. In the end ironically, food ,which was originally the conflict of the movie, brings Eddie, his father, and his friends closer together embracing and supporting Eddie’s passion for cooking, and breaking the status quo. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
Enchanted. Lima. 2007, USA. Enchanted follows the story of Giselle, a soon-to-be princess from the fairytale land of Andalasia, as she is acculturated to the harsh land of New York City. In this foreign land, Giselle learns from her new friends, divorce attorney Robert and his young daughter, what it means to be a “real” human. During this metamorphosis, food both details Giselle’s descent into reality and also brings in biblical elements that tie the plot into a greater narrative that traces the cosmic battle between good and evil. Synopsis by Olivia Holder.
Estomango, A Gastronomic Story, Marcos Jorge, 2008, Brazil. (No Call #) This film is about Raimundo Nonato comparing his successful life as a cook to his life as a prisoner. It exemplifies the phrase “The world comprises those who eat and those who are eaten” and Raimundo cooks in order to survive both in his life as a cook and a prisoner. The cook must also provide for others and himself and the cook only knows which part tastes the best. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
A Feast at Midnight. Hardy. 1994, UK.A new student at a British public school forms a secret society centered around cooking and midnight feasting with other school misfits and outcasts.*
Felicia’s Journey. Egoyan. 1999, USA.A lonely middle-aged catering manager spends all of his time studying tapes of an eccentric TV chef. Meanwhile, a young woman is making her way from Ireland to find her boy friend, who moved to England to get a job in a lawn-mower factory. On arrival, she makes an early contact with the caterer, who recommends a boarding room to her. Slowly, it is revealed that the caterer has in fact befriended and subsequently abused more than a dozen young women. He, of course, now sets his sights on this woman. Much of the story is told in flashbacks, revealing how each of the characters grew to the point where they now find themselves. However, the drama of the character interaction is more important to director, Atom Egoyan, than the potential horror of the situation. Synopsis written by John Sacksteder.
Finding Nemo. Stanton. 2003, USA (65-DVD1382). The film follows Marlin, an over-protective clown fish, and his adventurous son Nemo whose curiosity isn’t hindered by his foreshortened fin. The injury itself came from a barracuda attack when Nemo hadn’t yet hatched, an attack that took his mother and siblings, exemplifying the predator-prey relationship in the open ocean. The bond between Nemo and Marlin is strengthened, therefore, as they are the only family the other has. When Nemo ventures too far from their safe reef home, he’s captured by divers and taken to an aquarium in a dentist’s office. Along with a blue reef fish named Dory (who suffers with short-term memory loss), Marlin sets out to save his son and bring him home, overcoming dangers like sharks, jellyfish and powerful tidal waves along the way. While the film is accurate to a great degree about marine life, it also takes artistic freedom by playing off the predator-prey relationships in the ocean, often using this well-known relationship to humorous and ironic effects (as in the way of the sharks and the comedic seagulls which Marlin and Dory encounter). Set in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, this animated film is the story of a father who will go to any lengths to bring his son home, and of a son who turns his “lucky fin” into his greatest asset. Synopsis by Sierra Smith.
The Fish Fall in Love. Rofle. 2006, Netherlands. (65-DVD14003)After 22 years, Aziz decides to return to his hometown, to sell some family possessions, including the house where he was born. But for his astonishment, the place is now a small restaurant, run by four women, one of them a girl whom he once dated. Attieh, the girl, tries to convince him not to sell the place by, instead of telling him a story a day as Sheherazade, cooking him a delicious dish every day. Synopsis written by firstname.lastname@example.org.*
Food. Švankmajer. 1992, Czechoslovakia. Available online at https://vimeo.com/50746661, or as part of compilation here: (65-DVD2786) Švankmajer brings his surrealistic touch to the human process of eating in his 1992 short film, Food. The film is split into three parts, aptly named Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Breakfast expresses a political message against the communist regime of 1970s Czechoslovakia through its portrayal of a prison-like room where men cycle in and out robotically, following instructions hung from their necks on a chain and exchanging roles as eating and dispensing a bland meal. Lunch shifts to a comment on capitalist Czechoslovakia, with two men, one well-clad and another shabby, sitting at a restaurant and gesturing for attention at ant-like waiters in vain. The men, impatient and hungry, begin to devour their surroundings, beginning with the flowers and ending with the wealthy man descending with knife and fork brandished upon the poorer, his ravenous appetite a clear analogy to capitalistic greed and demands. Dinner, the conclusion, portrays a series of individuals consuming their own body parts, their cannibalistic tendencies a nod to the destructive nature of aggrandizing bodily images. Synopsis by Shirley Pu.
The Founder. Hancock. 2016, USA. (65-DVD21925) The true story of how salesman Ray Kroc turned a speedy local burger stand into the world’s largest restaurant chain. The simple McDonalds hamburger is a representation of the attention to detail and efficiency that Kroc builds his empire on top of. However, this film strays from the happy-go-lucky story of success and highlights the distrust between Kroc and the McDonalds brothers, underscoring Kroc’s greasy behavior in his takeover of the restaurant franchise.
Frankie and Johnny. Marshall . 1998, USA. (65-V3355)Johnny has just been released from prison, and gets a job in a cafe beside waitress Frankie. Frankie is a bit of a loner, but Johnny is determined their romance will blossom.*
Fried Green Tomatoes. Avnet. 1991, USA. (65-V3517) Evelyn Couch meets elderly Ninny Threadgoode, who tells the story of Idgie Threadgoode, her sister-in-law. The story is mostly centered around Idgie and Ruth Jamison and their close friendship. When Ruth is married, pregnant, and abused by her husband Idgie comes and brings her back to their childhood home. Idgie and Ruth start a café to afford to care for Ruth’s newly born son. Their entire family help the business succeed. Ruth’s abusive husband Frank suddenly dies and Ruth is considered a suspect, until she is let off. She then is diagnosed with cancer and slowly dies. The café closes and many people move away. This ends the story and Ninny comes back to live with Evelyn. Synopsis by Skyler Tapley
Friday Night Dinner (2011)*
Get Out. Peele. 2017, United States (65-DVD22035 c. 2). Chris, a black man, makes a seemingly innocuous visit to the family of his girlfriend Rose Armitage, a white woman. The trip becomes increasingly uncomfortable for Chris as the Armitages and their wealthy white friends make strangely progressive yet racist presumptions about the experience of black people in the United States. The family turns out to be lethal, and Chris must flee to save his body from invasion. A distinct comparison between black individuals and food animals highlight the racial tensions that dominate the storyline. Throughout the meal, animals are tortured by pain, talked about as inferior, and used as taxidermy to foreshadow Chris’s danger. Rose’s consumption of white foods separate from colorful food reveals her racial preferences, even though she seems liberal for the majority of the film. After a killing rampage, the resultant of self-defense, Chris escapes the plantation with the help of his friend Rod. Synopsis by Genna Holtz.
Gilmore Girls: A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving (2002) – TV Episode*
The Gods Must be Crazy. Uys. 1980, South Africa. After a bottle of coca-cola falls from an over-flying plane into a simple Bushman tribe in the Kalahari desert, trouble merges in the clan who have never come into contact with modern technology before. This comedy explores what happens when the tribe leader sets off on a journey to the ends of the earth to be rid of the troublesome object. Synopsis by Markella Patitsas.
The Gold Rush. famous shoe-eating scene*
Good Burger. Robbins. 1997, USA. (65-DVD12957)Two dim-witted teenage boys, are forced to save the fast-food restaurant they work at from going out of business, despite a new-and-improved burger joint opening across the street that want to be the “Top Dog” in the fast food industry.*
The Goonies. Richard Donner. USA. 1985. (65-DVD5018) This film is about a group of child misfits who set out to find a pirate’s ancient treasure in order to save their homes from foreclosure. This film contains one scene in which one character named Chunk is held captive with a beast named Sloth. Chunk and the beast bond over sharing a Baby Ruth exemplifying how food, especially candy, can be used to bring people together and create joy out of dark situations. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
Grand Day Out with Wallace and Grommit Park. 1989, UK. Wallace and Gromit are relaxing at home, trying to determine where to go for their upcoming bank holiday. When they realize they are out of cheese, they determine their holiday will be focused around acquiring more of it. They then have the realization that the best place to go is the moon, because according to Wallace, “everybody knows the moon’s made of cheese.” They build a rocket and reach the moon, where — indeed — the moon is made of cheese. They sample the cheeses before being chased by a robot back into their rocket. As they blast off, the robot remains on the moon skiing happily. Synopsis by Skyler Tapley.
Grave of the Fireflies. Isao. 1988, Japan. World War II orphans Seita and Setsuko are outcast by their distant aunt and abandoned by society. Clinging to the possibility of their father returning from war, the siblings attempt to survive on the outskirts of a village, pillaging and scavenging for any available food. In the climax of Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies, malnutrition strikes and the children slowly starve to death under the apathetic gaze of their fellow villagers. Synopsis by Kristy Sakano.
The Great Gatsby. Luhrmann. 2013, USA. (65-DVD16312) Narrated by Nick Carraway, a wealthy Midwesterner who has come to the island of West Egg, Long Island, to work as a bond salesman, The Great Gatsby tells the story of Jay Gatsby and his pursuit of his long lost lover Daisy. The movie highlights the extravagant feasts that Gatsby would throw every night in the hopes that one day Daisy might come over from her house across the water and be impressed with his incredible wealth. The association of love with food and the extravagance of feasts is central to the plot of this film. Synopsis written by Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez.
Greedy Guts. Svankmajer. 2001, Czech Republic. (65-DVD13414)When a childless couple learn that they cannot have children, it causes great distress. To ease his wife’s pain, the man finds a stump in the backyard and chops it and varnishes it into the shape of a child. However the woman takes the root as her baby and starts to pretend that it is real. When the root takes life they seem to have gained a child; but its appetite is much greater than that of a normal child. Written by IMDB user Bob the Moo*
Gremlins. Joe Dante. USA. 1984. (65-DVD9790) This film is about a boy who breaks three rules concerning his new pet his father brought from China, which causes the pet to unleash many mischievous monsters within the boys town. The three rules include no bright light, don’t get him wet, and no feeling him after midnight. The rule about not feeding the pet after midnight plays on the relationship between food and gluttony. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
The Green Butchers Jensen. 2003, Denmark. Two aspiring butcher shop owners, Svend and Bjarne, open a butcher shop as an offshoot to their previous boss, Holger. When Holger asks to order meat one day, they resort to cannibalistic tendencies and sell him human flesh fresh from their meat locker. Keeping this secret of cannibalism from their fellow orphan friend, Astrid, and Bjarne’s now recovered twin brother, Eigil, the two men continue to sell meat of their fellow human beings until Bjarne discovers Svend locked Eigil and Astrid in the locker. Soon after, the health authorities come but do not find human meat, but the shop closes down anyways. The four orphans, Eigil, Bjarne, Astrid, and Svend, take a vacation to the beach where it is noticed that Svend and Bjarne enjoy a setting that preserves life. Synopsis by Abhishek Das.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?. 1967. USA. Kramer. (65-DVD1955). Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? takes on the issue of confronting implicit racial bias. In the film, Joey Drayton has brought her black boyfriend, Dr. John Prentice, home to San Francisco to introduce him to her parents and tell them that they are getting married. However, neither the Drayton’s nor the Prentice’s know that either of their children’s partners are of a different race. Throughout the film, the attitudes towards race are metaphorically represented by the food each character has. Specifically, each character exhibits some change in attitude which is also tracked by their choices in food. Ultimately, Joey’s dad who was the strongest opponent agreed that the couple should get married because their love is so deep. Synopsis by Renuka Koilpillai.
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle Leiner. 2004, United States. Promising but immature medical student, Kumar, and his best friend, Harold, come under the influence of cannabis after stressful days at work, and both set out on trip to the nearest White Castle to satisfy their culinary desires. After they encounter Harold’s secret love, Maria, in addition to Neil Patrick Harris and a cheetah, the duo arrives at White Castle. The elation and emotional fortitude that both Harold and Kumar experience after concluding their journey at White Castle allow Harold to ask Maria to a date and Kumar to succeed in a medical school interview. Synopsis by Abhishek Das.
Haute Cuisine. Vincent. 2012, France. Haute Cuisine depicts the trials and tribulations of Hortense Laborie, a cook for the French President who strives to preserve her passion for the culinary arts regardless of the bureaucratic system. By cooking simple and authentic recipes, Laborie manages to recreate a local and pastoral feast in the jaded and rigid environment of the Élysées. Synopsis by Hoang My Link Luu. See essay on this film here.
The Help. Taylor. 2011, USA. (65-DVD13822 c. 3) In The Help societal roles are determined by food, namely, who serves and who is served. Some characters question the rationality and morality of these culture norms and strive to fight the inequalities present in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi in small ways- by questioning them, writing about them, and implementing better practices within their homes. Synopsis by Markella Patitsas. See essay on this film here.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Jackson. 2012, USA.A younger and more reluctant Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, sets out on an “unexpected journey” to the Lonely Mountain with a spirited group of Dwarves to reclaim their stolen mountain home from a dragon named Smaug.*
Home Alone. 1990. Columbus. (65-DVD8156). The large McCallister family is taking a trip to Paris for Christmas. The night before the trip, Kevin, the youngest of the family, gets in everybody’s way and causes trouble leading him to wish that he had no family at all. During the chaos of leaving for the trip, the family forgets about Kevin, and when Kevin awakes and finds no one in the house, he believes that his wish has come true. Throughout the film, food is used to express how Kevin feels about his place in the family. Kevin starts off feeling excluded which is indicated by the lack of pizza and the food mess created by his fight. He then indulges in junk food when he first realizes he is alone, proving that he is better off without his family. However, Kevin starts to miss his family, and when it becomes apparent he must protect his house from two neighborhood burglars, his eating patterns start to break down. Kevin decides that is his duty is to stop the burglars as the new man of the house. In preparation, he crafts an elaborate trap and cooks a microwave macaroni and cheese dinner to fuel up. Kevin successful stops the burglars, and when he wakes the next morning on Christmas day, he is greeted by his family’s return from Paris. Synopsis by Renuka Koilpillai.
House (Hausu) 1977*
How to Cook Your Life. Dörrie. 2007, Germany.A Zen priest in San Francisco and cookbook author use Zen Buddhism and cooking to relate to everyday life.*
How to Eat Fried Worms. Bob Dolman, Genndy Tartakovsky. 2006, USA. (No Call #) This film is about a fourth grader named Billy who moves to a new town with his family. Billy struggles with transitioning to the new school and encounters the school bully on the first day. The school bully; Joe Guire and his crew target Billy and pick on him on the first day by putting worms in his lunch. Instead of showing his embarrassment, Billy decides to deter the negative attention and eat the worms to show that he is unbothered. You can see the disgust on Billy’s face, however he says that he loves the worms and even fries them from time to time. Billy successfully eats a worm and Joe places a bet for him to eat ten fried worms in one day without throwing up. Although this film teaches individuals to stand up to bullies, it also displays the boundaries society places on the definition of food. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
How to Train Your Dragon. DeBlois, Sanders. 2010, USA (65-DVD12454). The animated film takes place on the fictional island of Berk, home to a clan of Vikings threatened by dragons who steal their livestock. In order to protect their source of food, the Vikings have learned to fight and kill dragons, a practice deeply ingrained in their culture and identity. Hiccup is the outlier in this world of dragon fighters—a scrawny blacksmith, he’s the laughing stock of his town. When Hiccup manages to wound a Night Fury, a legendary dragon no one in Berk has ever laid eyes on before, he has a chance to make a name for himself. Touched by the vulnerability and fear of the creature, Hiccup instead releases the dragon, going against everything he’s been raised to do and believe about dragons. With a peace offering of a fish, Hiccup creates a friendship with the dragon whom he names Toothless, proving that Vikings and dragons don’t have to be mortal enemies. When introduced to a greater threat to Berk than livestock-stealing dragons, Hiccup unites his fellow Vikings and the dragons in order to protect Berk, and to create a world in which the two species can coexist. Synopsis by Sierra Smith.
The Hundred Foot Journey. Hallström. 2014, USA. After a mob attacks their village and family restaurant in India, the Kadam family is forced to move to France where they attempt to start a new life. They decide to open a restaurant in a local village, incorporating their traditional Indian spices and ingredients into their menu. Hassan, the eldest son of the family, has a knack for cooking, yet the family struggles to compete with the upscale French restaurant across the street. The film is a journey of competition, artistry, and tradition as Hassan seeks to integrate Indian and French cuisine while overcoming the obstacle of stubborn mindsets and cultural preferences. Synopsis written by Rachel Murray.
Hyde Park on Hudson. Mitchell. 2012, UK. The film tells the story of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s love affair with his distant cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley amidst the weekend in 1939 when the King and Queen of the United Kingdom visited FDR at his home in Hyde Park, New York. On the brink of war with Germany, the King and Queen of the United Kingdom came to the United States to seek support from FDR, making for an unforgettable weekend with the Roosevelt family. There is an evident cultural and social disconnect between the Roosevelt family and King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth II, however an unsuspecting meal, a hot dog, bridges the gap between the two parties, ultimately giving the United Kingdom the United States’ support in the war. Synopsis by Christian Ortiz.
I Am Love. Guadagnino. 2009, Italy. (65-DVD11653 c. 2)A tragic love story set at the turn of the millennium in Milan. The film follows the fall of the haute bourgeoisie due to the forces of passion and unconditional love.*
Inglorious Basterds. Tarantino. 2009, USA/Germany. (65-DVD10418) Quentin Tarantino delivers the juxtaposed stories of a team of Jewish-American guerilla soldiers dubbed the “Basterds” and a young cinema owner named Shoshanna, both in Europe during WWII and both with the same goal: to dismantle the Nazi party. Tarantino uses food and drink as a way to visualize power hierarchies among characters; what the characters eat and how they eat it shows who’s at the top and who makes the rules. In this case, it’s a milk and strudel-loving Nazi colonel who’s in charge. Synopsis by Oliver Eisenbeis.
Interstellar. Nolan. 2014, USA. (65-BLU178) In the near future, when mankind can no longer look down to the Earth for food, it looks up to the heavens. As an unstoppable blight slowly makes farming on Earth unsustainable, pilot-turned-farmer Cooper is charged with leading a scouting mission through a wormhole in search of another habitable world. Separated in space and time from his children, Cooper hopes for the day he will return to Earth. This film confronts the consequence of an over-specialized population, where the overzealous pursuit of engineering and science has left humanity without adequate cultivators of the Earth. Moreover, it connects the withering of crops to the sickly wasting of humanity. Synopsis by Michael Palumbo.
It’s Complicated. Meyers. 2009. USA & Japan. (65-DVD11188) Jane Adler is divorced businesswoman running her own restaurant. Jane begins a spicy romantic affair with a married man who just happens to be her ex-husband. Jane has a sense of wholeness and peace that is shown through food. Food is Jane’s gateway to conversation with her ex-husband, her means of financial autonomy, and the key to her identity as an independent woman, not confined to the roles of just someone’s mother or just someone’s wife. It’s Complicated reinvents the stereotypical picture of the divorced woman, painting Jane as an exciting and vibrant independent character who is able to use food as her avenue to individuality. Synopsis by Hannah Williams.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Geib. 2012, Denmark. Documents the daily life of Jiro Ono, founder and head chef at Sukiyabashi Jiro, a renowned Tokyo sushi restaurant with a simple menu and exorbitant prices. The film illustrates Jiro’s obsessive relationship with his sushi preparation, reigning dominant over his health and personal relationships. Synopsis written by Martha Isaacs. See essay on this film here.
Julie and Julia. Ephron. 2009, USA. (65-DVD10457 c. 2) The story behind the culinary legend Julia Child and New York blogger Julie Powell intertwine as the two women find themselves through cooking. Julia’s road to becoming a cooking extraordinaire is shown alongside Julie’s challenge to cook through Child’s cookbook within a year. The recipes and cooking serve to show the everlasting joy and presence of cooking through time. Synopsis written by Mai Dvorak.
The Jungle Book. Favreau, 2016, United States (65-DVD21278). Mowgli, raised by wolves, is a boy of the jungle. However, when Shere Khan, the menacing tiger scarred from an encounter with humanity, demands that Mowgli the “man-cub” leave the jungle or he will unleash his wrath on everyone else, the other creatures become on edge and begin to resent Mowgli for the danger he poses. Mowgli’s place as a man among beasts alienates him from the animals of the jungle, particularly in his close relation to element of fire or “The Red Flower.” He is raised alongside organisms, that would be his prey and his food if he had been raised as a normal boy. Mowgli struggles to fight the fact that humanity has ruled over animals for nearly all of time. The animals fear him because of the destruction his kind brings. Mowgli must confront this truth and either embrace it or reject it in order to discover his identity. Synopsis by Elliott Millner.
Jurassic Park. Spielberg. 1993, USA (65-DVD10661). Through extraordinary scientific advances and ingenious genetic engineering, scientists have successfully cloned dinosaurs from their preserved genetic material. John Hammond, the mind and money behind this incredible feat, has populated a private island with the ancient beasts and brings a select group (including his two grandchildren) to preview his Jurassic Park. Yet when park systems catastrophically malfunction, the dinosaurs are set free to aimlessly wander the island. What started as a fun vacation has become a scramble for survival. Confronted by the dinosaurs, the visitors come face-to-face with new apex predators. Jurassic Park confronts the philosophical and ethical outcomes of resurrecting extinct life that harbors the intense desire to hunt and eat humans. How will humanity handle no longer being at the top of the food chain? Synopsis written by Michael Palumbo.
The Killer Shrews Kellogg, 1959, USA. (Not Available) This film looks at Thomas Malthus’ theory that human population growth will outrun food supplies. Professor Cragis is in the midst of conducting an experiment aimed at reducing the size of humans to ‘solve’ the overpopulation crisis. However, some of his experiments on ‘shrews’ have gone wrong. An interesting take on genetic modification concerns of the time, the film combines science fiction and horror to create a tense survival story. Synopsis written by Georgia Jeffrey.
Lady and the Tramp. Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson. USA, 1955.(65-DVD232 c. 3) This film is about a romantic relationship between a rich uptown Cocker Spaniel dog and a street downtown mutt. This film contains the infamous romantic scene where the two dogs share spaghetti and meatballs as they accidently kiss over a shared strand of spaghetti. This film shows how food can bring about synergy and people of different backgrounds together. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
The Land Before Time. Bluth. 1988, USA (Not Available). A prehistoric animated drama about dinosaurs forced to migrate to the legendary Great Valley after their food source is depleted in a drought. When an earthquake separates the dinosaurs, a young brontosaurus named Littlefoot, along with his various dinosaur friends, must find his own way to the Great Valley, following the instructions of his mother who passed away protecting him on the journey. The film is an exploration of friendship through the adventure of the young dinosaurs, and touches on the associations between food and memory, and the power food (and the lack of it) holds over populations. Synopsis by Sierra Smith.
La Ricotta. Pasolini. 1963, Italy. In La Ricotta, Pasolini uses food not merely as a symbol of inequity, but as the most tangible element of hypocrisy and exclusion. The Italian auteur portrays separation and starvation as ironic elements of the feast that exist in the Roman Catholic society he critiques.*
Last Holiday. Wang. 2006, USA. (65-DVD3053) Georgia Byrd, a woman who keeps her biggest dreams on the back-burner in order to live a very calculated life, has her perspective changed when she is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Georgia finds joy through food and uses the pleasure of food to live the rest of her life to the fullest. Food becomes the hallmark of a life well lived. Instead of holding back, over-indulging in all aspects of life becomes the essence of “living life to the fullest.” By Hannah Williams.
Letters to Juliet. Winick. 2010, USA (65-DVD11521). The romantic comedy follows Sophie, a fact checker for the New Yorker, who dreams of becoming an established writer. She and her fiancé Victor, a chef whose Italian restaurant is approaching its grand opening, travel to Verona on a pre-wedding honeymoon to spend time together before Victor’s restaurant opens. While in Verona, the couple spend more time apart than together as Victor gets swept away in the food culture of Italy, visiting restaurant suppliers and eventually traveling by himself to a wine auction across the country. Divided by Victor’s obsession with food, Sophie looks for her own purpose and excitement in Verona, happening upon a letter to the Secretaries of Juliet written by Claire Smith, dated fifty years ago. The letter tells of heartbreak and how Claire left her one true love Lorenzo because she was scared to commit to love. When Sophie responds to Claire’s letter, the pair—along with Claire’s cynical grandson Charlie—set out to find Lorenzo, scouring the Italian countryside for true love. Over the course of the film, Sophie is forced to reevaluate her own idea of love, and what kind of relationship she seeks for herself. Synopsis by Sierra Smith.
Like Water for Chocolate Arau. 1992, Mexico. Tita, the youngest daughter of three, becomes an incredibly talented cook at a young age and falls in love with a man named Pedro. Due to her verbally abusive mother, strict heritage, and being the youngest in the family, she is denied the opportunity to love Pedro. Tita’s ability to allow others to feel her emotions by eating her food keeps Pedro at bay, and after breaking off a marriage with Dr. Brown, she is safe in her love with Pedro, but both die after Pedro is overcome with happiness and her with sadness. Tita’s forbidden love story and her unique ability to stand in the face of social order to find love is told by her niece, Esperanza. Synopsis by Abhishek Das.
Little Forest: Winter/Spring. Mori. 2014, Japan. [Not Available] Disenchanted with the frenetic bustle of a big city, Ichiko moves back to her small hometown in the mountains and becomes a self-sustaining farmer and forager. Where the season of winter is characterized by self-preservation and survival amidst the cold, barren landscape, spring heralds renewal with budding crops and foraging wild herbs. Interspersed throughout the film are reflections of a disjointed childhood and reminiscences of heirloom recipes. Little Forest: Winter/Spring is the finale of Junichi Mori’s four-part epic of pastoral culinary perfection. Synopsis by Kristy Sakano.
The Lion King. Allers and Minkoff. 1994, USA (65-BLU207). Simba, the young lion next in line for the throne, can’t wait to rule over the African savannah. Yet when tragedy strikes with the premature death of Mufasa, Simba’s father, hyenas take over his kingdom, and Simba is forced into exile. In his exile, Simba adopts a new mantra of “no worries,” and lowers himself from peak carnivore to lowly insectivore. When Simba’s past returns to confront him, he must decide whether to leave behind his carefree life, or to take back his rightful spot as king of the savannah. The film repeatedly explores the idea of the “circle of life,” and the interrelatedness of animals as food sources for each other. Through this analogy, the film connects the idea of responsible rule with diet, using carnivorous, insectivorous, and scavengerous creatures as examples. Synopsis written by Michael Palumbo.
The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)*
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Jackson. 2002, USA (65-DVD3600 pt.1 c.3). A sequel to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, this film follows Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee as they continue their journey to Mordor to destroy the One Ring, guided by Gollum, a creature tortured by his obsession with the ring. As Frodo and Sam continue their quest, the three remaining members of the Fellowship—Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas—work to return order to the kingdom of Rohan, whose king is being manipulated by Saruman. This film delves into the clashes between cultures, often over food, and explores themes of trust, loyalty, and destruction beyond salvation. Synopsis by Sierra Smith.
The Lunchbox. Batra. 2013, India. When a mistaken lunchbox delivery in Mumbai connects a housewife named Iia and a retired accountant, Saajan together, they begin to build a fantastical relationship through written letters. This epistolary romantic film expresses and passes on emotions and passions of the characters through the food itself that is being transferred. The film demonstrates that ultimately some revolutions simply begin with lunch. Synopsis written by Jennifer Lyu.
The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)*
Master of None: The Thief. Yang. 2017, USA. (Unavailable) Our entire lives surround food whether it is a date, happy hour with friends or a family dinner, the majority of our social time is spent surrounded by food. Dev played by Aziz Ansari shows that food is not only a central plot point but a character itself in the exploration of pasta making in Italy. After leaving New York and the culinary culture of fast-paced city, Ansari begins his self-prescribed therapy through the slow and gentle process of pasta making. As the story unfolds, Ansari takes the viewer along a journey of delicious Italian restaurants from famous bistros to family kitchens exhibiting the connection between food and self-care. By Junessa Sladen-Dew.
Mean Girls. Waters. 2004, USA & Canada. (65-DVD5186) Cady Heron, a home-schooled student from Africa, has her ideas of popularity challenged when she crosses paths with the “plastics,” a group of ultra-popular girls in her new American public high school. Cady soon discovers that popularity and the ability to fit in correlate with physical attractiveness which stems from eating habits. Cady dominates the starring role of the “plastics” through the take down of their leader, Regina George. By controlling Regina’s physical appearance through food manipulation and otherwise diminishing her reputation, Cady’s character transforms into a negative figure that reflects the effect the pressures of popularity have on young Americans. By Hannah Williams.
Melvin Goes to Dinner (2003)*
Merci pour le chocolat Chabrol. 2000, Facnce. (65-DVD7912)In Lausanne, the aspirant pianist Jeanne Pollet has lunch with her mother Louise Pollet, her boyfriend Axel and his mother. Lenna leans that when she was born, a nurse had mistakenly told to the prominent pianist André Polonski that she would be his daughter. André has just remarried his first wife, the heiress of a Swiss chocolate factory Marie-Claire “Mika” Muller and they live in Lausanne with André’s son Guillaume Polonski. Out of the blue, Jeanne visits André and he offers to give piano classes to help her in her examination. Jeanne becomes closer to André and sooner she discovers that Mika might be drugging her stepson with Rohypnol. Further, she might have killed his second wife Lisbeth. Synopsis written by Claudio Charvalho.*
Mid-August Lunch. Gregorio. 2008, Italy. (65-DVD14536)Gianni is a middle-aged man living in Rome with his imposing and demanding elderly mother. His only outlet from her and the increasing debt into which they are sinking, are the increasingly frequent quiet sessions at the local tavern. As an Oriental saying goes, ‘Moments of crisis are moments of opportunities’. These appear during the celebration of the holiday of Ferragosto on 15 August. That’s when everybody leaves town to have fun. Opportunity knocks on Gianni’s door in the most unexpected way. Synopsis written by <email@example.com>.*
Miracle Apples. Nakamura. 2013, Japan. (No Call #) Mikami Akinori is an apple farmer in the village of Tsugaru, Aomori Prefecture. At first, it appears that he is quite content – he married his childhood love, Kimura Mieko, and inherited four plots of apple orchards. But when Mieko falls ill because of the pesticides used in apple farming, Akinori dedicates his research to finding an alternative solution. But removing the pesticides from the apple trees induces an infestation, then a tree disease. Rather than admit defeat, however, Akinori presses on, year after year, as three daughters are born and the family finances dwindle to nothing. But in the 11th year, Akinori experiences a breakthrough and births the first organic apple orchard in all of Japan. Synopsis by Kristy Sakano.
Moana. Clements and Musker. 2016, USA. (65-DVD21871) Since childhood, Moana, a young Polynesian island girl, has been told to stay within the reef of her island, Motonui. Because of the easy accessibility to food, safety, warmth, and family, her peers unquestionably accepted the decree, but Moana questions otherwise. When disaster strikes her island, Moana leaves home and the comforts of her family and fellow villagers to traverse across the open ocean on a mission to return a stolen trinket to a Polynesian Goddess. Through her journey, Moana discovers the truth to her identity; she is, and always has been, a wayfinder. Synopsis by Kristy Sakano.
Mostly Martha. Nettelbeck. 2002, Germany. Martha, a talented but mentally unstable chef in a German restaurant, must begin to take care of her niece, Lina, because her sister died in a car crash. In addition, Martha’s chef who was next in line, Lea, has been replaced by a crazy, eccentric sous chef in Mario. As Martha attempts to deal with her new kitchen staff and the new addition to her life, she becomes flustered and looks to cooking as an escape from her troubles, and Lina does the same to cope with the loss of her mother. After Martha is caught being negligent with Lina, and after Martha loses Lina to her father, Martha looks to Mario for help to bring their newfound family together again, and succeeds. Synopsis by Abhishek Das.
Motel Hell. Kevin Connor. 1980, USA. Farmer Vincent kidnaps unsuspecting travellers and is burying them in his garden. Unfortunately for his victims, they are not dead. He feeds his victims to prepare them for his roadside stand. His motto is: It takes all kinds of critters…to make Farmer Vincents fritters. The movie is gory, but is also a parody of slasher movies like Last House on the Left. Synopsis written by Scott Lanne.*
Mrs. Doubtfire. Chris Columbus. USA. 1993.(65-DVD273 c. 2 ) This film is about an ex husband who disguises himself as a female housekeeper in order to spend more time with his children held in custody by his former wife. This film displays various gender roles through a culinary lense. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Zwick. 2002, USA. (65-DVD1098 c. 3) Toula Portokalos is supposed to marry a Greek boy, have Greek children, and be a perfect Greek woman — meaning she should “feed everyone until the day she dies.” Toula was never a typical Greek girl and ends up falling in love with Ian Miller who is not at all Greek. After much resistance from Toula’s parents, the two decide to get married. Throughout multiple cultural differences related around food — such as the Miller’s giving a Bundt cake to the Portokalos’ and they responding with “there’s a hole in this cake” or Ian being a vegetarian and Toula’s family thinking lamb is a substitute for him — the families finally come together. This coming together is shown by Toula’s father saying “in the end we are all fruit” based on the origin of both last names. Synopsis by Skyler Tapley.
My Blueberry Nights. Wong. 2007, France. (65-DVD8390) A young woman takes a soul-searching journey across America to resolve her questions about love while encountering a series of offbeat characters along the way.*
My Dinner with Andre. Malle. 1981, USA. (65-DVD11142) Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, apparently playing themselves, share their lives over the course of an evening meal at a restaurant. Gregory, a theater director from New York, is the more talkative of the pair. He relates to Shawn his tales of dropping out, traveling around the world, and experiencing the variety of ways people live, such as a monk who could balance his entire weight on his fingertips. Shawn listens avidly, but questions the value of Gregory’s seeming abandonment of the pragmatic aspects of life. Synopsis written by Rick Gregory.
Nankyoku ryorinen. Okita. 2009, Japan. Nishimura has a passion for cooking, but never would he have imagined the task before him now: He is unexpectedly assigned to a south polar mission to serve as head chef at the Dome Fuji station. Leaving wife and daughter behind for a year, he and the other crew members experience one existential crisis after another in the icy cold. And then they run out of Ramen! Synopsis written by Pehr Meretyk.*
Nina’s Heavenly Delights, Pratibha Parmar, Britain, 2006. (65-DVD16462) This film is about Nina Shah who returns to Scotland for her father’s funeral and discovers that her family’s restaurant is for sale. Her father entered a “Best of the West” cooking competition before he died, and Nina vowed to enter the competition and win for him and the fate of the restaurant. As soon as the competition and Nina’s kitchen heats up, her passion for food and her partner Lisa rises. This film displays how food can be used for motivation. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
O Brother Where Art Thou. Coen and Coen. 2000, USA. A group of escaped convicts go in search of a large fortune. Along the way they encounter various types of hospitality including an unfortunate run-in with Big Dan, a Bible salesman who cons the travellers while schmoozing them over a lunchtime meal. Parallels with Homer’s Odyssey in cooperation with a Southern setting investigate of what it means to be good Southern host. Synopsis written by Markella Patitsas.
Ocean’s Eleven. Soderbergh. 2001, USA. (Not Available) Eleven thieves of varying specialties assemble to plan the robbery the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas. They are led by Danny Ocean, who wants to be reunited with his wife who has left him for Terry Benedict, owner of the Bellagio. Rusty Ryan, Ocean’s right-hand man, inconspicuously but constantly consumes fast food while they plot the casino’s demise. They successfully achieve the seemingly impossible heist through clever, innovative, and cutting deceit. Synopsis by Genna Holtz.
Okja. Joon-ho. 2017, USA. (Not Available) Since childhood, Mija, a young South Korean girl, has been a caretaker and constant companion to Okja – a special kind of super pig. But everything changes when the agro-chemical Mirando Corporation takes Okja from Mija and transports her to New York, where its image obsessed CEO has big plans for Mija’s closest friend. Okja’s oppressors plan to provide the world with cheap yet high quality meat by any means possible. With no plan besides her desire to protect her best friend, Mija sets out on a rescue mission and leads a protest against factory farming and genetic engineering, while allying herself with groups such as the Animal Liberation Front, who want to take Okja for themselves. By Marcella Pansini.
Oliver! Reed. 1972, United States (65-DVD16662). The film follows Oliver Twist, a young orphan who longs for companionship.Every day, when Oliver and his fellow half-starved orphan boys enter the workhouse dining room for dinner, they are fed only thin gruel, but find comfort in imagining a richer, more exotic menu. One day, Oliver gathers up the courage to ask for more food and he is immediately told to gather his belongings by Mr. Bumble and the Widow Corney, the heartless and greedy caretakers of the workhouse. Bumble and Corney treat Oliver and his fellow orphans solely as sources of labor and feed them only the bare minimum to stay alive and complete the work that needs to be done. Due to a lack of familial relationships, food is the only source of comfort for the orphans. It is also an object of desire as nutritional or enjoyable food is often denied to them. After Oliver escapes the orphanage, he is taken in by a group of pickpockets, led by the Artful Dodger and Fagin. When Oliver is falsely accused of stealing a wallet, he is rescued by the wealthy Mr. Brownlow, to the anger of the merciless and thieving Bill Sykes. After a failed house robbery, Sykes kidnaps Oliver, with tragic results for Sykes’s kind-hearted lover, Nancy. Synopsis by Marcella Pansini.
Onibaba. Shindo. 1964, USA. (65-DVD15093) After being forcefully inducted as a soldier into war in 14th-century Japan, his wife and mother remain living in a swamp. They eke out their living by ambushing worn-out warriors, killing them and selling their belongings to a greedy merchant. The woman comes to mistrust her daughter-in-law who has coupled up with a deserter, and begins to wear a facial mask she has taken from a slain samurai. Soon the mask will not come off again. In this disguise she is at first taken for a demon by her daughter. Synopsis written by Michael Jurich.
Ordinary People. Redford. 1980, Australia. (65-DVD11222)The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son.*
Oyster Farmer. Reeves. 2004, Australia.A love story about a young man who runs away up an isolated Australian river and gets a job with eighth generation oyster famers.*
Paddington 2. King. 2017, UK, France, & USA. (Not Available) Paddington, a marmelade-loving bear living with a wonderful family in Windsor Gardens, finds himself in jail on account of a false accusation. Through Paddington’s courageous choice to propose much-needed innovation in the jail cafeteria, Paddington forms relational bonds with the most callus characters in the film. Food, and the creativity involved in baking, bonds hyper-masculine felons in the areas words and explicit communication fall short. Synopsis by Hannah Williams. Synopsis by Hannah Williams.
Passengers. Garcia and Tyldum. 2016, USA (65-DVD-21857) On a 120-year trip to a new planet, Jim Preston wakes up from a medically-induced ageless sleep 90 years too early. The film follows him as he wakes up Aurora Lane and struggles to save the space ship of over 5,000 passengers from ultimate destruction. The food and bar become symbols of comfort and humanity for the two protagonists, and the bond formed at food-related settings is one that lasts a lifetime. Synopsis written by Andrea Brucculeri.
Phantom Thread. Anderson. 2017, United States (Not Available). The fastidious and controlling Reynolds Woodcock heads the most prestigious fashion house in the UK. Alma, a fortitudinous waitress Reynolds meets in the country, is the first person ever to chastise him for his juvenility and bullying. She makes fun of the fragility of his breakfasts and how particular he is about the food he chooses to eat. As she turns from his muse to lover, their volatile relationship becomes emotionally and verbally abusive. Alma prepares an intimate dinner for the two of them to try to rediscover each other, but Reynolds rebukes her and chooses not to recognize her efforts to love him. To salvage their life together, Alma utilizes poisonous mushrooms to weaken her husband physically and mentally and to make him recognize the fragility of life itself. The allows him to rely on her, fall back in love with her, and ultimately greatly strengthens their relationship. The dinner Alma prepares for Reynolds, breakfast meals, and Alma’s creative use of mushrooms shows that food is love, and when prepared properly, can strengthen body and soul. Synopsis by Genna Holtz.
Pieces of April. Hedges. 2003, Germany.A wayward daughter invites her dying mother and the rest of her estranged family to her apartment for Thanksgiving dinner.*
Pocahontas. Gabriel and Goldberg.1995, USA. When Captain John Smith and his company of English soldiers arrive in the New World, conflicts emerge from a difference in Algonquin and English customs. The Algonquin’s lifestyle is heavily dependant on the earth, especially the cultivation of corn, while the English hope to introduce Eastern imports and foodstuffs to the tribe. The English must learn how to make a sustainable living in harmony with the earth. Synopsis written by Markella Patitsas.
Pretty Woman. Marshall. 1990, USA. (65-DVD1219) The idyllic expectation of behavior in upper-class American society is shown through the use of gourmet food in Pretty Woman. Vivian Ward, a prostitute in LA, becomes part of the life of a wealthy man named Edward. The social and cultural divide between Vivian and Edward is demonstrated through the use of social etiquette, especially etiquette surroundings meals and food consumption. The barriers that discourage Vivian from accepting the role of a wealthy woman are outlined through her ignorance in proper behavior, especially during meals. Synopsis by Hannah Williams.
Pride and Prejudice. Wright. 2005, UK. (N/A) The Bennet family resides in the countryside of Meryton, England in the 18th century. Mrs. Bennet’s chief aim is to marry off her five daughters. The chance of an advantageous match becomes more possible with the arrival of the wealthy Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy who take a nearby house for a season. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy’s adversarial interactions rife with social, economic, and political overtones. The tensions between them are cinematographically captured through food. Uncomfortable meals at the Bennet household and Rosings Park demonstrate that power and food are intrinsically tied and dictate who belongs to higher social circles. Synopsis by Genna Holtz.
The Princess and the Frog. 2009. Clements and Musker. USA. (65-DVD10799). Tiana lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, and has worked her whole life to achieve her childhood dream of opening a restaurant. The dream began with her father who also loved to cook, but unfortunately passed away. In the present day, she works at a restaurant as a waitress. While working one day, her friend hires her to cook her famous beignets for a party welcoming Prince Naveen of Maldonia, who is turned into a frog by a voodoo magician. In an attempt to cure himself, the frog accidentally turns Tiana into a frog as well. The two frogs are chased out of the party and into the Bayou. While trying to get back to the city, they actually find their answers to their problems through food. A magical gumbo and Tiana’s cooking ability highlight that the two frogs are in love with each other. The film ends with the two frogs getting married and turning back into humans. Synopsis by Renuka Koilpillai.
A Private Function. Mowbray. 1984, United Kingdom (65-DVD12619). A British comedy set in 1947 post-war Britain. Princess Elizabeth is about to marry and the country wants to celebrate with her but rations make the most desired food, meat, hard to come by. Joyce and Gilbert Chilvers steal an illegal pig in hopes to raise their status in the community but Gilbert cannot bring himself to kill it. Issues of masculinity, class and attachment to animals are played out in this comical star-studded film. Synopsis written by Georgia Jeffrey.
Pulp Fiction. Tarantino. 1994, USA. (65-DVD19270) Two hit men, a mob boss, his wife and a boxer all seem unrelated, but their lives are woven together through both an unconventional film structure and continuous consumption/discussion of food. Hamburgers, pancakes, pop-tarts and coffee serve as dishes that characters bond over, but are also used to assert power and introduce gratuitous violence. Synopsis by Oliver Eisenbeis.
The Ramen Girl. Ackerman. 2008, Russia. (65-DVD8168)An American woman is stranded in Tokyo after breaking up with her boyfriend. Searching for direction in life, she trains to be a râmen chef under a tyrannical Japanese master.*
Ratatouille. Bird. 2007, United States. Remy, a talented chef of a rat, comes into contact with an untalented chef, Alfredo Linguini, and decides to use him as a mode to express his expertise in cooking. As the secret duo becomes better at making food, questions start to arise in the management of Gusteau’s, the restaurant, about the validity of Linguini. As Linguini takes on a rocky adventure of fame and struggles with coworker relationships (including Remy), he finds importance in Remy and let’s all others know, even the staunch food critic that tells the fate of their restaurant, Gusteau’s motto: anyone can cook. Synopsis by Abhishek Das. See essay on this film here.
Raw. Ducournau. 2017, Belgium. (Not Available) Justine, an innocent lifelong vegetarian and aspiring veterinarian, enters university only to find herself sucked into a dangerously seductive world filled with sadistic hazing rituals. Frantic to fit in, she disobeys her parents and her own principles to eat raw meat for the first time whilst being hazed. This initial taste of flesh awakens something primal and starving within Justine, and her hunger threatens to expose a long hidden family secret. Justine’s newfound cannibalism transforms her into a brazen seductress and she soon becomes intoxicated by the taste of blood, which becomes her drug of choice. The young student soon suffers as chasing her desire for flesh causes her true self to emerge, to the detriment of those around her. By Marcella Pansini.
The Revenant. Iñárritu. 2015, United States. Glass, an explorer during the 1800s, sets off on an expedition with other men to chart unexplored Native American territory. After weeks of hardships, men dying, and food sources depleting, Glass and the rest of the men must resort to eating raw meat in the frigid tundra, but the meat is not viable enough to provide them sustenance. After weeks of this lifestyle and being attacked by natives and wild animals, only Glass remains to kill the man that killed his son. Only Glass saw the importance in cooking his meat to retain nutrients and keep himself alive. Synopsis by Abhishek Das.
Rinco’s Restaurant. Tominaga. 2010, Japan. After a bad breakup, a young woman returns to her hometown and opens a menuless restaurant.*
The Road. Hillcoat. 2009, United States (Not Available) Nameless main characters “the boy” and “the man” travel through a post apocalyptic wasteland in a quest to survive. The two must overcome extreme weather, cannibals, and starvation as they travel down a seemingly never-ending road. The food these two share is a symbol of their love for one another and the way they take care of each other as the odds and the elects fight against them. Synopsis written by Andrea Brucculeri.
Robin Hood with Errol Flynn, Saxons and Normans compare styles of feasting.*
Romantics Anonymous. Amaris. 2010, USA. (65-DVD14394)What happens when a man and a woman share a common passion? They fall in love. And this is what happens to Jean-René, the boss of a small chocolate factory, and Angélique, a gifted chocolate maker he has just hired. What occurs when a highly emotional man meets a highly emotional woman? They fall in love, and this is what occurs to Jean-René and Angélique who share the same handicap. But being pathologically timid does not make things easy for them. So whether they will manage to get together, join their solitudes and live happily ever after is a guessing matter. Synopsis written by Guy Bellinger.
Rocky. John G. Avildsen. USA, 1976. (65-BLU26) This film is about a small town boxer who gets the chance to fight the heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. He wishes to win in order to gain respect from others and himself. One of the scenes in this film contain Rocky waking up early in the morning to drink five raw eggs before training. This scene shows us how committed Rocky is to preparing for his fight and that food is ultimately supposed to be fuel. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
Rush Hour, Brett Ratner, 1998. USA. (65-V7134 ) This film is about a Chinese diplomat’s daughter being kidnapped in Los Angeles. Inspector Lee is called in from Hong Kong to help assist with detective James Carter from the LAPD. Although detective James Carter is African-American and Inspector Lee is Chinese, they put their cultural differences aside and work together in order to locate and bring back the diplomat’s daughter. There are a lot of stereotypes within this comedic film including one scene that incorporates foreign perception of an ethnicities culinary culture. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
Sausage Party. Conrad Vernon, Greg Tiernan. 2016, USA. (No Call #) This film is about anthropomorphic food items that dream to be selected by human shoppers so that they can reach “The Great Beyond”. This film is very raunchy, foul-mouthed and offensive. It blatantly stereotypes ethnic groups and their culture. The plot of this movie begins at a supermarket entitled Shopwells. The main character is Frank who is a sausage who dreams of living with his hot dog bun girlfriend Brenda in “The Great Beyond”. Both Frank and Brenda’s packages are selected by a human shopper, however their packages are ripped causing them to fall onto the floor of the supermarket. This causes an accident leading to the human shopper spilling all her items and deterring the dreams of the food items from reaching “The Great Beyond”. Long story short, Frank finds out that “The Great Beyond” is a lie and it is where food items go to be abused and killed by the human shoppers. The movie involves Frank trying to tell Brenda and other food items the truth about “The Great Beyond”. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
Scooby-Doo. Gosnell. 2002, USA. (Not available) Two years after their tumultuous break-up, the members of Mystery, Inc. reluctantly reunite to solve a mystery on Spooky Island, a hotspot for college students on spring break. Supposedly ruled by demons in its ancient past, Spooky Island has been plagued by the chronic disappearance of its patrons. Cowardly and easily frightened, Scooby-Doo (the titular anthropomorphic dog) and Shaggy will do near-anything in exchange for a Scooby Snack dog treat. The film connects food, motivation, and bravery. Moreover, it examines gluttonous over-consumption and the dichotomy between true hunger and superficial desire. Synopsis written by Michael Palumbo.
The Secret Life of Bees. Prince-Blythewood, 2008. USA. Escaping her troubled past in 1960’s South Carolina, Lily Owens leaves her father and finds spiritual healing that is catalyzed by an encounter with jars of Black Mary honey. Her stay at the home of the beekeeper Boatwright sisters, the source of these jars, is similar to the Israelites entrance into the promised land of milk and honey, representing food’s religious and restorative power. Synopsis written by Maggie Rutherford. See essay on this film here.
The Secret Life of Grain, Abdellatif Kenchiche, 2007, France.(No Call #) This film is about the life of a struggling French-Arab family. Slimane wants to open a portside restaurant specializing in his ex-wife’s couscous and fish, the family’s passion and problems escalate throughout the movie displaying how food food plays in family life and the core of the immigrant experience. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
The Scent of Green Papaya. Huang. 1993, USA. (65-DVD9743)A little girl, Mui, went to a house as a new servant. The mother still mourns the death of her daughter, who would have been Mui’s age. In her mind she treated Mui as her daughter. 10 years later Mui (now a young woman) was sent to another family, a young pianist and his wife. The musician falls in love with the peasant, he taught her literacy and they eventually married. A movie about a girl’s life. Synopsis written by Zheng Wang.
Senba Zuru 1969—version of Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes—expressing decadence of modern society through decay in traditions surrounding Japanese tea.*
The Shawshank Redemption. Darabont. 1995, United States. (65-V4935 c. 2) After big-shot stockbroker Andy Dufresne is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for killing his wife and her lover, he tries to make the best of his situation. The movie follows Andy on his almost 20 year journey in Shawshank prison as he struggles to make his way up in the system by trading his knowledge of accounting for special privileges from the warden. The film analyzes the monotony of prison food and the dehumanization it goes along with. The movie also makes a statement about how food from the outside world can make a person feel normal in prison, if even for a second. Synopsis written by Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez.
Short Order. Bedham. 1986, USA.Number 5 of a group of experimental robots in a lab is electrocuted, suddenly becomes intelligent, and escapes.*
Shrek. Adamson and Jenson. 2001, United States (65-DVD-823) An isolated ogre finds himself on a journey to rescue a beautiful princess and bring her to a wealthy lord. Although the ogre and princess come from dramatically different backgrounds, commonalities regarding food begin to bridge the gap between them. When the two share meals and snacks along their journey, not only do they bond over their fortunes and misfortunes, but they learn that they aren’t so different after all. Synopsis written by Andrea Brucculeri.
Sideways. Payne. 2004, USA. (65-DVD2213 c. 2)Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment, embark on a week-long road trip through California’s wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle.*
Simply Irresistible, Mark Tarlov, 1999, USA.(65-DVD12030) This film is about a chef named Amanda Shelton who has trouble attracting customers to her family restaurant. She picks up a magical crab while shopping for ingredients, and her cuisine becomes phenomenal. Whoever consumes her dishes develop strong emotional ties to her. This film exemplifies how food can create feeling. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
The Silence of the Lambs. Demme. 1991, USA. (65-DVD8019) The pursuit of serial killer Buffalo Bill leads a young FBI trainee, Clarice Starling, to seek the insight of former psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter who has been incarcerated for cannibalism. With Lecter’s assistance, Starling manages to locate Buffalo Bill and free his captive, while Lecter escapes his cell and becomes free. Synopsis written by Madison Schroder. See essay on this film here.
Soul Food. Tilman, Jr. 1997, USA. (65-V6658)Matriarch Mama Joe has held her family together for 40 years around a Sunday dinner of soul food. When diabetes hospitalizes her, the dinners stop and tensions among her three daughters start to break the family apart. Two of the sisters feud continuously: Teri is jealous of Maxine’s marriage and irritated that everyone assumes her corporate salary is open to the rest of the family’s uses. Maxine resents Teri’s bossiness and insensitivity to family tradition. Bird, the youngest, newly married to an ex-con, accepts a favor from an old lover that leads to her husband’s arrest. Mama Joe’s grandson Ahmad cooks up a scheme to bring the family together, back to the table. Synopsis written by <firstname.lastname@example.org>.*
Soul Kitchen. Akin. 2009, Germany. (65-DVD12313) A free-spirited, humorous story follows two brothers and their eccentric antics in running a restaurant. The movie begins with a disorganized restaurant owner Zinos, leaving his restaurant to his ex-con brother after deciding to follow his girlfriend to Shanghai. However, this ends in disaster after the brother gambles the restaurant gambles away and Zinos finds his girlfriend with another lover. The ensuing scenes show the enduring story of brotherhood and self-realization that is necessary in order to keep the restaurant running and the dream of food alive. Through the lens of food, the viewer is able to ride the waves of creative impulses of Zinos and his brother while listening to a deep and soulful soundtrack. By Junessa Sladen-Dew.
Soylent Green. Fleischer. 1973, USA. (65-DVD14065). Fleischer. 1973, USA. In 2022, a New York City detective investigates a mysterious murder and finds himself entangled in a food-related government conspiracy. Synopsis written by Josh Green. See essay on this film here.
Spinning Plates 2012*
Spirited Away. Miyazaki. 2001, Japan. (65-DVD1206 disc 1) During her family’s move to the suburbs of Japan, 10-year-old Chihiro and her parents stumble upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park. Despite Chihiro’s premonitions of danger and unease, her parents discover and indulge in an open-air restaurant filled with fresh food, with no workers or customers present. As Chihiro returns from a short walk, she learns that her parents have been turned into pigs for their unfaithful and indulgent personalities. Food, in this film, serves as a grounding to familial ties and building of relationships between characters who dine together. However, in a side plot, the over-indulgence of food unrestrictedly leads to bad consequences, such as a gluttonous monster unable to cease eating and curses placed on innocent characters. Synopsis by Kristy Sakano.
Splash. Ron Howard. USA. 1984. (65-V499) This film is a love story about man who is reunited with a mermaid who saved him from drowning when he was a little boy. There was one scene in which the man and mermaid had a decadent and delicious meal of lobsters served to them and the mermaid ate her meal messily and rambunctiously. This film also plays on culinary gender roles. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
Stanley Ka Dabba. Gupte. 2011, India. Stanley, a fourth grader in India, curiously comes without a lunch box to school every day even though the rest of his peers do. As one teacher daily searches through students lunch boxes’ to rummage for food, he is angered that Stanley does not contribute to his food obsession. He verbally abuses Stanley for this, but his loyal friends are there to help Stanley through his hunger. By the end of the movie, the abusive teacher, who banished Stanley for not bringing food, discovers that Stanley is an orphan and is abused at home and not able to obtain food. Stanley, with the help of his gracious friends, finds food as more than just sustenance, but a mode of bonding between friends. Synopsis by Abhishek Das.
Sweet Movie. Makavejev. 1974, France. The film consists of two unrelated plots and an interspersed montage of footage from a mass exhumation. Miss Canada is used to represent the downside of capitalism. She is selected as Miss World 1984 because of the appearance of her genitals, and eventually suffocates in a pool of chocolate. Anna Planeta is a communist revolutionary who sails a candy-filled ship adorned with a replica of the head of Karl Marx. She seduces children with candy and eventually kills her lover while he is covered in powdered sugar. One of the most striking scenes in the movie involves a feast that gets progressively more obscene, with kissing, spitting, vomiting, urinating, defecating, and extreme overall sloppiness as part of it. Synopsis written by anonymous student.*
The Tale of Desperaux. Fell and Stevenhagen. 2008, USA. (65-DVD7929) The tale of three unlikely heroes – a misfit mouse who prefers reading books to eating them, an unhappy rat who schemes to leave the darkness of the dungeon, and a bumbling servant girl with cauliflower ears – whose fates are intertwined with that of the castle’s princess.*
Tampopo. Itami. 1985, Japan. Two truck drivers, Goro and Gun, stop at a noodle shop owned by Tampopo, a widowed noodle chef, and set out to train her to become a first-class noodle chef. As the trio journeys throughout Japan encountering accomplished chefs and noodle-making mentors, she develops valuable skills in noodle making that were originally reserved for men in Japanese society. Small asides that deviate from the plot of the film showcase comicality, food as a means for sexual desire, and westernization of Japanese culinary culture; providing a contrast to the traditional noodle-making cuisine of Tampopo. Synopsis by Abhishek Das.
The Taste of Tea. Ishii. 2004, Japan. (65-DVD6320)A spell of time in the life of a family living in rural Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo. Though her husband is busy working at an office, Yoshiko is not an ordinary housewife, instead working on an animated film project at home. Uncle Ayano has recently arrived, looking to get his head together after living in Tokyo for several years. Meanwhile, Yoshiko’s daughter Sachiko is mainly concerned with why she seems to be followed around everywhere by a giant version of herself. Synopsis written by Jean-Marc Rocher.*
Tasting Menu. 2013. Spain. Gual. (Not in MRC). Mar Vidal is a world famous chef who owns one of the best restaurants in the world, Chakula. At the height of its success, she has decided to close the restaurant after 15 years to start a new venture in Japan. The movie centers around the restaurants closing night, which brings together a strange mix of people to experience Chakula’s tasting menu. All the diners, as well as the world, have been waiting to see what the dessert will be, as Vidal has prepared it to be the grand finale. Throughout each meal, the audience sees the relationships of the guests unravel, and just when it seems as though the night cannot get any worse, Vidal learns that her main ingredient for the dessert has sank in a boat. Even more, the musicians for the night were on the boat and become lost at sea. The guest rally together to salvage the night by offering to look for the boat. Inspired by their perseverance, Vidal uses the sea water itself to create a new dessert, which the guests enjoy after miraculously recovering the lost boat. Synopsis by Renuka Koilpillai.
The Thief Who Came to Dinner (1973)*
Thirteen at Dinner (1985)*
Titanic. Cameron. 1997, USA. (65-DVD525 c. 2)A seventeen-year-old aristocrat, expecting to be married to a rich claimant by her mother, falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.*
To The Bone. Noxon. 2017, USA. (Not available) Based on the real world experiences of writer and director Marti Noxon, the movie follows the difficult but resilient journey of Ellen, a 20-year-old woman suffering from anorexia nervosa. Ellen joins an atypical group home where the doctor and fellow patients use alternative routes to come to terms with their relationship with food and the pathway to life. Using food or the lack thereof it as a central theme for the movie, the harrowing experience of a young woman struggling against internal and external pressure in modern society unfolds. Through a battle against food and comfort, Ellen must come to terms with self-acceptance and the strength to fight her addiction. By Junessa Sladen-Dew.
Toast. Clarkson. 2010, United Kingdom. (65-DVD14019) Based on the autobiography of British celebrity chef and food critic Nigel Slater, this film explores themes of love, loss and comfort food. A loveless childhood after the premature death of his mother forces Nigel to seek affection elsewhere, in the kitchen. Much to his step-mothers’ disapproval, a (food) fight for his father’s attention ensues. 1960’s gender stereotypes and explorations of sexuality wrap neatly into this beautifully nostalgic piece. Synopsis written by Georgia Jeffrey.
Today’s Special.Kaplan. 2009, United States. Samir, a young and talented sous chef, quits his job at a restaurant in New York City to pursue his dream of studying French cooking in France. After his father falls ill, he leaves his dreams of France and takes up work at his father’s Tandoori restaurant, where he has little knowledge of Indian cuisine. After encountering a famous elderly Indian chef, Akbar, who teaches him the intricacies of Indian cuisine and how to appreciate his Indian heritage, Samir slowly becomes an incredibly successful tandoori chef. Through food, Samir gains love for his heritage and his family. Synopsis by Abhishek Das.
Tom Jones (65-DVD2957 ) The fruit feasting scene pioneered the erotic subgenre of the food film*
A Touch of Spice. Boulmetis. 2003, Greece. (65-DVD12696).A Touch of Spice” is a story about a young Greek boy (Fanis) growing up in Istanbul, whose grandfather, a culinary philosopher and mentor, teaches him that both food and life require a little salt to give them flavor; they both require… A Touch of Spice. Fanis grows up to become an excellent cook and uses his cooking skills to spice up the lives of those around him. 35 years later he leaves Athens and travels back to his birthplace of Istanbul to reunite with his grandfather and his first love; he travels back only to realize that he forgot to put a little bit of spice in his own life.*
Tortilla Soup. Ripoll. 2001, USA. Tortilla Soup tells the story of a retired chef named Martin Naranjo, who lives in Los Angeles with his three adult daughters Carmen, Maribel, and Leticia. Each night, the family convenes to eat an exquisite dinner that their father, Martin, has spent hours preparing, despite his loss of taste and smell. Martin ingrains in his daughters the importance of eating as a family, living at home until marriage, and pursuing a professional career, but they grow tired of his old-fashioned ways, causing conflict within the family. Even during rough times for the Naranjo family, food acts a way to reunite the family and maintain their traditional values. Synopsis by Christian Ortiz.
The Trip. 2010*
The Trip to Italy. 2014. Winterbottom. United Kingdom. (65-DVD18673). After being commissioned by his local newspaper in England to write about restaurants in Italy, Rob Brydon takes his friend Steve Coogan to travel around Italy sampling different foods and tracking the lives of the poets Byron and Shelley. The two middle-aged men are both actors slow to find work. The trip takes one full week, and every day the pair visit a new town in Italy that has some significance to one of the poets. While at each stop they stay at a luxurious hotel and eat at decadent restaurants. In addition to their food adventures, Rob and Steve bond over their ridiculous never-ending impressions of movie characters, as well as their personal struggles. By Renuka Koilpillai.
Troll 2. Fragasso. 1990, USA. (Not Available) A family of four takes a summer trip to the nearby town of Nilbog. The night before his family leaves, Joshua is visited by his grandfather’s ghost who warns him that there are vegetarian goblins secretly living in Nilbog. The very existence of goblins threatens the safety of Joshua’s family as goblins survive by transforming humans into plants by feeding them poisoned food and drink and then eating them. Joshua finds himself quickly running out of time to escape and convince his family of the truth. By Marcella Pansini.
The Truman Show. Weir. 1998, United States (65-DVD120 ) Truman Burbank finds himself in a life that is real and and not real all at once. After a woman tells him his world is not real, Truman begins to suspect he is being watched and begins to think he is in a T.V. show. The film uses food as in-show advertisements in Truman’s life. These items of food represent Truman’s life, real but not also false. Synopsis written by Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez.
Vatel. Joffle. 200, France.In 1671, with war brewing with Holland, a penniless prince invites Louis XIV to three days of festivities at a chateau in Chantilly. The prince wants a commission as a general, so the extravagances are to impress the king. In charge of all is the steward, Vatel, a man of honor, talent, and low birth. The prince is craven in his longing for stature: no task is too menial or dishonorable for him to give Vatel. While Vatel tries to sustain dignity, he finds himself attracted to Anne de Montausier, the king’s newest mistress. In Vatel, she finds someone who’s authentic, living out his principles within the casual cruelties of court politics. Can the two of them escape unscathed? Written by <email@example.com>.*
Volver, Almodóvar (2006). When Raimunda’s sister, Soledad, returns to their hometown following their Aunt’s death, rumors suggesting her thought late-mother Irene’s presence actualize. Although terrified of dead, Soledad houses her mother while running her hair-care business. Meanwhile, Raimunda’s alcoholic husband attempts to rape her daughter Paula, but Paula kills him in self-defense. Raimunda too had been abused by her father, although without her mother’s knowledge or intervention. Raimunda hides his body in a restaurant refrigerator, and then starts a make-shift restaurant with the assistance of a neighbor woman. Through Raimunda’s restaurant and Irene’s domestic cooking foods restore Raimunda and her mother’s strained and closes divides within the family. Synopsis written by Brent Eisenbarth. See essay on this film here.
Waiting… McKittrick. 2005, USA. (65-DVD2880 pt.1) Waiters and cooks at the restaurant Shenaniganz struggle with their emotional problems as they feel their lives are passing them by. For these workers, food, and the way it is prepared, is merely a means of earning money or exacting revenge on customers who have wronged the waiters. Dean, a current waiter and college dropout, struggles with his feelings of inadequacy and must choose to accept a promotion or leave the restaurant in search of a brighter future. Meanwhile, his womanizing co-worker and roommate, Monty, has accepted that his future lies in the restaurant as he struggles in showing around a new employee. By Marcella Pansini.
Waitress. Shelley. 2007, USA. (65-DVD5339 c. 2) Jenna, a waitress in Southern small-town America, is trapped by her abusive husband Earl and dreams of saving enough money to run away. Her claim to fame and only respite from her suffocating life are the pies of her own invention, which she titles in accordance with her experiences. She becomes pregnant with an unwanted baby and subsequently enters into an affair with her doctor, Jim Pomatter. Jenna forms an immediate and unexpected bond upon giving birth to her daughter, Lulu, and breaks off her marriage and affair. By inheriting money from a friend and winning a pie contest, Jenna is finally able to start her own pie diner and live independently with Lulu. By Genna Holtz.
The Wedding Banquet. Lee. 1993, USA. (65-V4792 c. 2)To satisfy his nagging parents, a gay landlord and a female tenant agree to a marriage of convenience, but his parents arrive to visit and things get out of hand.*
What’s Cooking? Chadha. 2000, UK. (65-DVD1975)In LA’s Fairfax district, where ethnic groups abound, four households celebrate Thanksgiving amidst family tensions. In the Nguyen family, the children’s acculturation and immigrant parents’ fears collide. In the Avila family, Isabel’s son has invited her estranged husband to their family dinner. Audrey and Ron Williams want to keep their own family’s ruptures secret from Ron’s visiting mother. In the Seelig household, Herb and Ruth are unwilling to discuss openly their grown daughter’s living with her lover, Carla. Around each table, things come to a head. A gun, an affair, a boyfriend, and a pregnancy precipitate crises forcing each family to find its center. Synopsis written by <firstname.lastname@example.org>.*
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Hallstrom. 1993, USA.Gilbert has to care for his brother Arnie and his obese mother, which gets in the way when love walks into his life.*
When Harry Met Sally. Reiner, 1989, USA. In relation to the Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy, Harry and Sally are seemingly different characters. However, they begin to fall in love over the numerous meals they embark on, and Harry and Sally finally compromise their eating habits on their wedding day. Synopsis by Kerry Walsh. See essay on this film here.
Whiplash. Chazelle. 2014, USA. (65-DVD18922) Andrew Neiman, a 19-year-old jazz drummer, is determined to overcome the failed career of his father, yet struggles to overcome roadblocks on his maniacal path to musical perfection. All the while, Andrew’s personal life deteriorates as he grapples with preserving his personal relationships, both familial and romantic, all centered around food. Normally seen as a place to bring people together, Andrew’s various relationships fall apart at dining tables. Synopsis by Hannah Williams.
Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? Kotcheff. 1978, France. (65-DVD10690) Mystery abounds when it is discovered that, one by one, the greatest Chefs in Europe are being killed. The intriguing part of the murders is that each chef is killed in the same manner that their own special dish is prepared in. Food critics and the (many) self-proclaimed greatest Chefs in Europe demand the mystery be solved.*
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Stuart. 1971, United States. Charlie Bucket, a young boy from a poor family, wishes to find a golden ticket to go to Willy Wonka’s factory for a tour. After four other selfish children find tickets, Charlie finds one, and goes with his grandfather to the factory for the tour. After each individual in the five-man squad loses out on the tour (apart from Charlie), Wonka surprisingly does not declare him the winner, as Charlie drank from the Fizzy Lifting Drinks Room against orders. After re-establishing trust with Wonka by showing he respects Wonka’s precious factory, Charlie wins the competition, and earns his family new ownership of the factory. His perseverance granted him success. Synopsis by Abhishek Das.
Woman on Top, Fina Torres, USA, 2000. (No Call#) This film is about the magic of food, love, and music. Isabella decides to flee from her dysfunctional marriage and gender role induced career as a housewife who cooks and cleans, to pursue her dreams of a real culinary career. This film sheds light on culinary gender roles. Synopsis by Jalen Heyward.
*Most of the entries marked with an asterisk were taken from anonymous contributor to the International Movie Database, and are in need of new and food-centric synopses!