Acclaimed at film festivals at home and abroad, Peter Svatek’s feature documentary Theater of Life begins a theatrical tour December 3 in Toronto, bringing an inside look at a unique social and culinary experiment to cities across Canada.
Co-produced by Triplex Films and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in association with Phi Films, Theater of Life is a movable cinematic feast, coming to the following cities:
- Toronto, Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, December 3–5
- Montreal, Cinéma du Parc, starting December 23
- Montreal, Cinéma Beaubien, starting December 23 (French-language version, Le théâtre de la vie)
- Edmonton, Metro Cinema, December 23, 26–28
- Quebec City, Cinéma Cartier, starting December 23 (French-language version, Le théâtre de la vie)
- Vancouver, Vancity Theatre, January TBC
In an extraordinary soup kitchen in Milan, two vastly different worlds have been brought together by a unique social experiment. Theater of Life captures the remarkable relationship forged between the finest haute cuisine chefs in the world and the city’s most disadvantaged groups: refugees, recovering drug addicts, former sex workers, and a host of others with no place else to go.
Renowned chef Massimo Bottura, whose Osteria Francescana was named world’s best restaurant in 2016, asked 60 international chefs to join him in transforming surplus food from Expo 2015 in Milan―whose theme was Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life―into delicious and nutritious meals for Italy’s hungriest residents.
Among the top chefs lending Bottura a hand are Canadians Jeremy Charles of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and John Winter Russell from Montreal, alongside international stars like Ferran Adrià, René Redzepi and Alain Ducasse. They’ve all become engaged in Bottura’s vision for sustainable cooking, relishing the experience of gathering around a table with their hungry guests to share a meal in the beautiful Refettorio Ambrosiano, decorated by Italy’s finest artists and artisans. A visual feast in itself, Theater of Life puts a human face on its powerful message of social justice while raising awareness about the enormous environmental impact of food waste, in which 1.3 billion tons of food per year are thrown away globally, or fully a third of all food produced.
Theater of Life was named Best Canadian Feature at Toronto’s Planet in Focus International Environmental Film & Video Festival and also garnered the Tokyo Gohan Award, given to the winner of the San Sebastian Film Festival’s Culinary Zinema section. The 94-minute film was produced by Josette Gauthier (Triplex Films) and Annette Clarke (NFB), and is distributed by the NFB (Canada) and Seville International (international sales).
Food for Soul is a non-profit organization, founded by Massimo Bottura, that empowers communities to fight food waste through social inclusion. Bottura and his wife, Lara Gilmore, created Food for Soul to open more refettorios around the world.
If you are a fan of Netflix’s ‘Chef’s Table’, then The National Film Board of Canada’s ‘Theater of Life’ is for you with a slight twist.
Let’s remove the decadence and keep it simple. The eye candy you may anticipate seeing is there but ladled with a different glaze for a just as worthy mouth.
Feel free to have dalliances with the exquisite film footage depicting the best meals from the likes of Massimo Bottura and René Redzepi. But the truth in terms of what this doc is really about is in the pudding.
‘Theater of Life’ provides beautiful and yet painful portraiture of Italy’s most disadvantaged at their most vulnerable. In their homes, on the streets, alone and soaked in a pain that is far too difficult to wash away. Their stories are rich, diverse and speak of similar sentiments. The need for acceptance, respect and emotional nourishment ooze from the film’s subjects.
Simple gestures expressing an interest in their life, concern, a warm meal made with the simplest of ingredients from the mouth of someone who has not paid it any mind and discarded is transformed into a second coming for those who would normally do without from the hands of Michelin starred Chefs.
This film is a must watch as we head into the holiday season. What can we do to give back to those in our community who need a helping hand? What small or large gesture could illuminate someone’s life and help them start 2017 with a full heart, mind and physical strength?