SECOND SCREENS: Foodie Edition is an in-home film series with a side of local restaurant love.
As we approach nearly a full year of social distancing and limited communal gathering, we are all looking for creative ways to stay together while keeping apart. Two sectors that have felt this challenge keenly: arts organizations and restaurants. The arts make us think and feel, and our culinary community quite literally adds flavor to our lives. But a global shutdown has left them without the human connections that keep them running. Everyone from artists to performers to chefs to wait staff have spent the last year scrambling to stay afloat while also keeping their patrons safe.
So how do you hold a film festival during a pandemic? You start by bringing it home and adding food.
“We were trying to think of an innovative, interesting way to virtually engage folks to watch movies in their own home but also provide an interactive element to make the experience more fun,” says C. Jacqueline Wood, FotoFocus’s Film Curator at Large. Thus originated SECOND SCREENS: Foodie Edition, a new take on an established FotoFocus film series that pairs movies celebrating a milestone anniversary with a local chef.
Each month, February through May, “the series is a celebration of a certain film,” says Wood. “We are partnering with a local chef to promote the film and the different cuisines the film represents. We’re looking at these as pairings just like you would pair food with wine.” The chefs are also participating in accompanying videos themselves, talking with FotoFocus about all things film and food.
SECOND SCREENS was originally launched in January 2020 as a monthly in-person screening series where a different film was shown in a different location throughout the city on the second Tuesday of each month, such as Woodward Theater, Union Terminal, and Rhinegeist, explains Wood. When, just months after, that became impossible due to the pandemic, SECOND SCREENS hosted a drive-in style event in July.
“Although SECOND SCREENS: Foodie Edition is a different format, which encourages independent at-home screenings,” Wood says, “it is still rooted in our goal of watching, learning, and celebrating the cinematic medium. We look forward to in person screenings again in the future, when it is safe to gather again, but until that is possible, this digital initiative is a creative way to still fulfill our mission.”
How does it work? Rather than prescribe a specific order of operations, FotoFocus is letting you guide your evening (of choice) with a set of curated suggestions and resources. February matches Big Night with Chrissy Antenucci of The Wheel; March brings Spirited Away and Kiki’s chef Hideki Harada; for April, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is brought to life by Frances Kroner of Sleepy Bee Café; and to wrap up the series in May, Jean-Robert de Cavel of French Crust Café and Bistro, Le Bar a Boeuf, and Frenchie Fresh is paired with Amélie.
“What we really want people to do is watch the film, on their own time in their own house — these films are widely accessible — and be able to cook a meal or order takeout along with that,” Wood says. “It’s really about this concept of dinner-and-a-movie, and bringing that into your own home,” Wood says. FotoFocus will offer downloadable recipes from the partner chefs. “The dishes that they’re making, they’re not super complicated. Anyone can make them,” Wood says. If you’d rather order in, each month the featured chef’s restaurant will offer a promotional takeout item that complements their film.
“Along with celebrating food in film we also want to celebrate the chefs, and we want to support the local restaurant industry,” Wood says. “And we understand that things are very stressful right now. We want it to be exciting and creative. But we’re also interested in the chefs’ stories — who they are and the cuisines they cook. The films are kind of the starting point; they are about food and they celebrate workers.”
Says Wood: “This is a project to think about food and how fun it can be.” So go forth, and let a favorite local chef guide you through making dinner, with the evening’s entertainment all lined up, too.