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.
When making sushi, the rice is as important as the fish, a Tokyo chef insists at the start of Sushi: The Global Catch, Mark Hall's documentary that enjoys its world premiere tonight. But eaters worldwide are fixated on getting their fill of sea creatures, inciting a potential environmental crisis, according to the experts who populate this polemic that aims to tell a Food, Inc.-style story at sea.
Sushi: The Global Catch corrals chefs, wholesalers, scientists, and fish ranchers to bemoan the skyrocketing demand for bluefin tuna--China's incipient hunger looms like a thundercloud over the onscreen discussions--and corresponding depletion of Atlantic bluefin stocks. "No species has fared worse at the hands of humans," Monterey Bay Aquarium's Mike Sutton says.
The documentary chronicles an entrepreneurial Australian visionary growing tuna in captivity, but advocates bluefin abstinence until he's perfected the ocean-saving technique: Sushi closes with a Monterey Bay Aquarium spokeswoman demonstrating her institution's handy Seafood Watch iPhone app.
Like many political films, Sushi suffers from simplifying its central plotline. After establishing sushi's reach by poking fun at the sweet, saucy rolls sold in Poland by a former pizza parlor owner and the rib-eye, cilantro, and jalapeno rolls popular in Texas, it's harder for the film to pin bluefin blame on new sushi eaters. Still, the starkly saturated images of Japanese fish auctions, upscale sushi bars, fishing trips, and bluefin tuna meat are gorgeous--and perhaps too pretty for the producers' tastes. "Makes you never want to eat sushi again, huh?," a movie-house staffer asked an attendee leaving a recent screening. "Actually," the moviegoer said, "it kind of makes you crave it."
Sushi: The Global Catch, Admiral Theater, 7 p.m.
Additional screening on Friday at Harvard Exit, 4:30 p.m.