The “Film for Thought” Film Festival next week offers an opportunity for the people of San Luis Obispo to learn about some of the social and economic issues related to food and health. Presented by HopeDance Films and New Frontiers Natural Marketplace, the festival will screen one film a night at 7 p.m. from Oct. 24-30, leading up to the HANDs on Health Symposium Oct. 30-31 at the Recreation Center on campus.
The documentaries cover a variety of topics related to food, many of which are currently under fierce debate. “Killer at Large” examines the threat posed to America by the spread of obesity, and “Fresh” explores the idea of stopping to think about where, how, and by whom our food is produced. Many of the films feature well-known experts on food and health, including Michael Pollan and Joel Salatin.
The films were chosen by local movie lover Bob Banner, who runs Novel Experience Bookstore on Higuera Street and owns the HopeDance film collection which includes documentaries on many subjects.
“These films focus on topics like obesity, sustainable food systems, overfishing, grass-fed beef, raw food, and successful farm to school programs. Some of the films may be unconventional or even a little shocking, but I want to show what’s really going on as well as what is possible,” said Banner.
Banner is the editor and publisher of “HopeDance,” an online publication that focuses on issues and activities related to creating a sustainable future. He also runs “Edible SLO,” a local magazine that is dedicated to all things related to healthy food and its importance.
“Most people believe that everything is fine, and they don’t see the reality of the decisions that are being made daily about how we access our food. If these films get people to start talking about these issues let alone making healthier choices, that’s a big giant leap,” Banner commented.
Tanushree Bose was also involved in the selection of the films for the festival. A professor in the Cal Poly department of nutrition and a believer in being aware of the issues surrounding our food, Bose spent many years studying genetics and the physical and habitual causes of obesity. She will also be giving a speech after the screening of “Killer at Large.”
“These films are documenting reality,” she said. “They focus on a very captivating medium, and they really get people thinking. The topics include relevant issues like why school lunches in America are so abysmal or how prevalent corn is in our diets, and I hope that students see their importance.”
Professor Bose is also a strong supporter of Cal Poly’s recently established Slow Foods on Campus chapter. Slow Foods on Campus (a division of Slow Foods USA) is a network of student groups at universities across America that work to improve the university’s food system.
The film festival addresses issues that are also important to Cal Poly students. Sophomore biology student Alyssa Semerdjian said that “I think this festival is a really good idea. You can’t ever be too educated about health and healthy eating.”
Another group closely connected with the festival is a research project created by the Cal Poly kinesiology department called Science through Translational Research in Diet and Exercise, or STRIDE. This group is committed to spreading awareness about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and promoting activities and events that foster healthy living.
STRIDE is hosting the first HANDs on Health Symposium at the end of this month. Stephanie Teaford is the community liaison between STRIDE and the city of San Luis Obispo, and was directly involved in organizing the festival.
“When I saw these films, I was inspired to make this festival happen. Many of the films relate directly to the message we try to send and the work we’re doing with issues like obesity and sustainability,” she said.
Donations of $5-7 are encouraged and refreshments may be provided by local sustainable caterers.
All films from the festival are to be shown at the SLO County Public Library, except for the film shown on Oct. 27 which will be shown at the Templeton Community Center, and Oct. 29 which will be shown at the Tullius Chiropractic & Pilates Center in Grover Beach.