Film Review: A Place at the Table
Director: Kristi Jacobson & Lori Silverbush
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Mariana Chilton, Tom Colicchio, Ken Cook, Barbie Izquierdo, James McGovern, Marion Nestle, Raj Patel, Janet Poppendieck
Distributor: Participant Media
Running Time: 85 min
Debuting at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival under the name Finding North, Participant Media’s stark new documentary A Place at the Table, specifically addresses our country’s hunger crisis while also speaking to the larger American dream.
In America today, it has become far too typical that the poverty-stricken & working-poor American’s nutritional cycle can be sum up as the following: poor diet creates a person’s health decline, money is put towards getting better health thus equaling less money toward better food. Participant Media’s follow-up takes a closer look at this issue under the bigger spectrum of the so-called “food insecurity” crisis. Under such a term, almost 50 million American men, women, and children who at any time wonder where their next meal will come from.
Compiled as a companion piece to Food Inc., Table takes a closer look at the food crisis in the forms of spotlights with 4 central areas of the US: rural Colorado, inner-city Philadelphia, obese-ridden Mississippi and Washington D.C. While the most visceral parts of the film are indeed about the actual victims of this domestic crisis, Table boldly and effectively unveils the dichotomies of the spotlights while also maintaining a feed to help pull all areas back toward the central issue – the United States Government and how Capital Hill can help solve the entire solution. By shining a light in each of these areas, viewers get to peer into a part of society that is all to prevalent and now becoming the norm in daily life.
Table Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush have done well by compiling well-thought interviews with many articulate, knowledgeable and entertaining spokespeople for such an uneasy topic. Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio; Mariana Chilton, the founder of Witnesses to Hunger; nutrition policy leader Marion Nestle; Dr. J. Larry Brown, author of Living Hungry in America; and Raj Patel, the author of Stuffed and Starved, along with Actor Jeff Bridges, the founder of the End Hunger Network (and a Producer on the film) all make great use of their time on camera to get each of their perspectives advocacy projects brought to light by continuing to re-iterate the effects each topic has on each of the films’ real-life cultural spotlights.
The same clever and easily swallowed graphics in Food Inc., make another appearance in A Place At the Table, as viewers are treated to black & white stats & figures that without such slides, wouldn’t be as hard hitting in the midst of this documentary – the hard truth of reality may just be too much for some people to take at face value, and both Directors seem to know how to play this to a strength. Musically, T. Bone Burnett and The Civil Wars also provide a wonderful interwoven soundtrack to set the backdrop of America’s landscapes and lifestyles to even further the connection to the characters in this piece.
Overall, A Place At the Table isn’t the most light-hearted documentary you will watch in 2013. The sad fact is that come next year or even say 2015, this documentary may well be still very relevant. While cinematically the documentary doesn’t provide anything that is challenging or of note, it allows the foremost topic to always be center stage. The unfortunate event is that the film does lose a little of it’s entertainment value due to the topic overall, but what it lack in watchability, it makes up for in thoughtful perspective to hopefully bring this important crisis to a forefront. For this reason, everyone is encouraged to check this doc in whatever way you can.
For more information on the overall film topic or the individual advocacy groups which appear in the film, please click below:
FILMMAKER SITE: Take Part.’
BREAD FOR THE WORLD – http://www.bread.org/ol
FEEDING AMERICA – http://feedingamerica.org
FOOD RESEARCH AND ACTION CENTER – http://frac.org
SHARE OUR STRENGTH – http://www.nokidhungry.org
“A Place at the Table” currently has limited release nationwide and can be screened at Century Landmark in Chicago.
Note: the previous review was contributed from Fresh Roasted Film, visit the direct review HERE
– Matt Miles, Contributing Writer, Producer of Fresh Roasted Films
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