That first "F" in SIFF stands for film, not food, but there's plenty of onscreen eating at the festival to entertain the culinary-minded moviegoer. As a supplement to Seattle Weekly's coverage of the Seattle International Film Festival, Voracious will highlight the program's films of particular interest to those viewers who spend more time in dining rooms than screening rooms.
If you don't have reservations for dinner at El Bulli this summer, you'll never eat there: The legendary Spanish restaurant closes on July 30.
But the documentary El Bulli: Cooking in Progress gives mere plebeians a peek at El Bulli. German filmmaker Gereon Wetzel filmed months of activity in Ferran Adria's kitchen, capturing head chefs brainstorming, experimenting, sampling, and cataloguing new dishes.
For moviegoers who don't identify as food lovers, watching the painstaking process is no more fascinating than a behind-the-scenes glance at laundresses sorting clothes. Cooking in Progress utterly perplexed a blogger who caught the film when the SXSW Film Festival screened it:
"Who goes to this restaurant? How much does it cost? Who are these chefs?" Jette Kernion wrote. "The question of whether some of the dishes actually qualify as food is another one I would have enjoyed seeing explored."
Yet viewers who are familiar with El Bulli are likely to be transfixed by the film's gorgeous images of what many gourmands consider the world's most sophisticated food. While Variety's Alissa Simon felt "the pic doesn't have the narrative drive or emotional appeal of a documentary like D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus' Kings of Pastry," she praised Cooking in Progress as "immaculately crafted."
El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, Saturday, 9:30 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m., Harvard Exit