This year’s FFF has toned down the food element considerably from previous years, retaining just vestiges of past events: the chef-heavy panel discussions, the multiple special dinners and parties, the food-themed film programs. That said, 2014’s slimmed-down offerings look tasty.
Kicking things off on the first Saturday of the festival, Locally Fresh! combines a short film about some of our local farmers and food producers with a tasting of their goods, and winds up with an actual farmers market on the Enzian lawn. It’s not the usual panel discussion, but it’s a fair bet that representatives of Lake Meadow Natural Farms, Palmetto Creek Farms, Olde Hearth Bread Co. and/or East End Market, all featured in the video presentation, will be on hand to chat. (film and tasting 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., farmers market noon-2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at Enzian)
This year’s Italian Cinema Night, a longtime favorite dinner-and-a-movie party, offers a screening of Elio Petri’s Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion. This twisty cat-and-mouse thriller won the 1971 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and it’s heady and challenging fare, paired with a less challenging spread from Buca di Beppo. You may be relieved and happy to retreat into a simple meatball-topped spaghetti with red sauce after Petri’s suspenseful mindfuck. (6:30 p.m. film, 8-9:30 p.m. tasting Monday, April 7, at Enzian)
Although you could make the argument that FFF 2014’s opening night film, The Trip to Italy, is a “food film” – consisting as it does of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon traveling around Italy, bickering and eating – the fest has just one narrative feature, one documentary and one short overtly categorized as food films this year. First up we have After Winter, Spring (4:15 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at Regal Winter Park Village), a lyrical documentary about the Périgord region of France, a part of the world that has been continuously cultivated by farmers for more than 5,000 years. Preceding it is a three-minute doc on Cajun heritage foodways, Faces From Places–Louisiana: La Boucherie. Doing a 180 on tone, Le Chef is a fun French farce starring Jean Reno (The Professional) as a three-star classical chef coasting on his reputation confronted by a changing culinary world and young, hungry kitchen challengers. (12:30 p.m. Sunday, April 6, at Regal Winter Park Village)