As a freelance writer, I write about many topics. Occasionally, I’m lucky enough to write about topics that matter to me personally. While that’s true of many of the articles I’ve written for thinkspirit.net, writing a piece on the Real Food Films Contest has me sitting here with my laptop feeling overwhelmed with gratitude. I get to do work I love writing about topics that deeply matter – to me and to the world at large. These opportunities don’t come around often.
And neither do the amazing stories the Real Food Films Contest 2016 Winners present. I know that sounds like a poor segue, but it’s actually true. I had the pleasure to watch each of the winning videos and hope you’ll take the time to do the same.
The Real Food Films Contest is a collaborative initiative that makes use of film, web-based action, and grassroots campaigning to highlight food and sustainable farming successes stories. Students and organizations alike are encouraged to submit their films. There is a small entry fee and the public votes on the videos, while the final winner decisions are made by a panel of judges.
Drum roll please! This year’s winners:
Grand Prize: Home Flavored, directed by Jamie DeWolf. This gut-wrenching video tells the story of how Coca Cola has become a cultural tradition among Latinos and contributes to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes in their culture, both in America and in their native countries. Featuring a young Latina, the video describes a typical family get together and how it’s centered on Coke – the shiny red label and the glass bottle, rather than focusing on what’s truly important – the family stories and camaraderie. The film leaves you a bit sad for the Latino culture and a lot angry with Coca Cola.
First Runner Up & Best Cinematography: Naturali Tea, directed by Jeremy Seifert. This beautiful and inspiring film tells the story of a tea farmer in Japan who chooses to grow organic green and black tea. The farmer discusses the importance of natural soil, enhanced only by organic means, in producing high quality tea. As tea is the second most commonly ingested liquid (water is number one), removing chemicals from the growing process would have significant global impacts on both soil and public health. I’ve long been aware of this issue and am thrilled that this film is now bringing awareness to others.
Lens on Hunger: Everybody Eats, directed by Justinian Dispenza. Hunger is a growing issue across the U.S. and around the world. Shelters and food banks help, but often people aren’t willing to set aside their pride to ask for help. Or, because they can pay something, don’t want to take free food from those who can’t. An innovative, and increasingly popular solution, to this problem are pay-as-you-can cafes. In this model, as you might expect, people order food and pay what they can. The haves and the have nots dine together without anyone being the wiser and some people pay more for their meal to make up for those who pay less, or not at all. At the register, patrons are asked to make a donation. This film does an amazing job of capturing hunger and this solution with dignity and respect for all involved.
Best Student Film & People’s Choice: Beyond the Seal, directed by Leah Varjacques and Katherine Nagasawa. We’ve all seen the label: Fair Trade Certified. Some of you, like me, probably even know enough about it to know that it helps farmers obtain a fair price for their goods and that it helps them, their families, and communities. It turns out, it means so much more. This film takes us inside the personal story of one banana farmer and what Fair Trade means to him. If you don’t already believe in buying Fair Trade products, you will after you watch this film.
Best Underreported Issue: Saving Sap, directed by Ian Maclellan. As a New Hampshirite, this one is near and dear to my heart. I’ve even been to Parker’s Maple Barn (featured in the beginning of the film.) Using genuine small-town sap producers and insightful wisdom about the effects of climate change on trees, this film opened my eyes to the differences in the types of maple trees, the sap they each produce, and the real danger traditional maple syrup faces as a result of climate change. If you like the sweet gooey liquid on your pancakes or waffles, this film is a must watch.
Best Food Producer Profile: Continue reading