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‘Because food is something close to everyone, that everyone has to eat every day’, says Austrian filmmaker Erwin Wagenhofer when asked about the topic of his latest documentary “We Feed the World”.

In Brittany, a fisherman brings us out to sea to observe his daily routine. He warns of the dangers of the industrial fishing that threatens his livelihood: “You can’t play around with Nature’s precision.” Back at port, a fishmonger demonstrates the difference in quality between the fresh catch brought in from the small boats and that brought to market from the commercial trawlers. “This is only for selling,” he suggests of the commercial catch.

In his latest documentary, “We Feed the World” , Austrian filmmaker Erwin Wagenhofer takes a critical look at the production of food and the effects on it from globalization and commercialization. In the wake of best seller “Fast Food Nation” and such recent movements as Slow Food, the globalized food industry is subject to increasing scrutiny and disdain.

“We Feed the World” is divided up into sections. Distressing questions like “Why doesn’t a tomato taste like a tomato?” or “How does one explain that two hundred million people in India, supplier of eighty percent of Switzerland’s wheat, suffer from malnutrition?” are mapped out in detail in each of these sections, which show fishermen
in Brittany, the use of hybrid seeds in eastern Europe, the production of soya in Brazil, and the biggest food corporation of the world, Nestle, Switzerland. The interviewees, among them Nestle CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, an Austrian, tell their
stories and give their opinions on the way the western world deals with food.

Interspersed are interviews with a food expert from the UN who provides insight into how the things shown in the film are affecting, often adversely, people around the world. When asked how he managed to secure the interviews, especially with people who might not normally participate in such a documentary, Wagenhofer says the first time he approaches someone, he never brings a camera. In fact, he doesn’t for the first 4 or 5 times, by which time people see he is not out to make fun of them, and they eventually agree to be filmed.

The film causes us to think about how and where the food we eat is
produced and how so many people in the world can be starving when so much food is produced and wasted in the industrialized world. In other words, “We Feed the World” tells us that we are all part of the system, and that it is up to “us” to change it, as we are the ones who should desire to do so.

Movie-goes can watch “We Feed the World” in Austrian cinemas from 30 September.

We Feed the World

Director: Erwin Wagenhofer
Country: Austria
Year: 2005
Language: German, Portuguese, French

Erwin Wagenhofer was born in Amstetten, Austria, and studied at the Vienna Institute of Technology. He has worked variously as assistant director, assistant cameraman, writer and director of films and has been an assistant lecturer at the Danube University Krems and the University of Applied Arts Vienna. His work includes documentaries and features for the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation and the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation, commercials and short films.

Text: Christina Merl
Photos: Courtesy of Allegro Film

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