Stephen Jardine: Food on Film a festival to savour

Stephen Jardine. Picture: Jane Barlow
Stephen Jardine. Picture: Jane Barlow
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IN THE new movie about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty, there is a key scene. When torture fails to break an al-Qaeda suspect, his interrogators turn to food.

Outside the torture chamber they feed him figs and hummus in the hope that a reminder of the milk of human kindness will be enough to make him cooperate. It is a small gesture that speaks volumes.

This weekend, the relationship between food and the movies is being celebrated at a unique Scottish festival.

Now in its sixth year, Food on Film was started by a chef, a filmmaker and the head teacher from the local school in Kingussie. Last year, more than a thousand people flocked to four days of viewing and eating.

The programme this year has a fantastic line up culminating tonight in an evening of Greek food and music and a screening of Papadopoulos and Sons, which follows a man forced to open a fish and chip shop after the recession destroys his business empire.

When you think about our best-loved movies, it’s surprising how often eating plays a critical role. From obvious celebrations such as Chocolat and Babette’s Feast to weird tales like Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, food and films just seem to go together.

As a food lover, most of my favourite movies feature it in some shape or form.

In Billy Wilder’s film The Apartment, Jack Lemmon plays a lonely bachelor who survives on TV dinners. He tries to climb the corporate ladder but along the way gets involved in a complicated romance with a girl from the office.

You know his life has changed when he cooks spaghetti and tomato sauce for her using a tennis racket to make up for his lack of kitchen equipment. For him, food equals love.

The mark of a great foodie film is when it leaves you hungry. On the way home I had to stop off for a spaghetti bolognese after watching Cher in Moonstruck. Thankfully, I didn’t feel that way after Silence of the Lambs.

The organisers of this weekend’s event in Kingussie understand the link between food and film and have created a special way of celebrating it.

It’s not exactly Hollywood, and big- name film producers will be thin on the ground, but there will be plenty of the food variety to make up for that.

The food hall will showcase everything from local fish and game to honey, baking and artisan chocolates.

Scotland needs more local events. Outside big corporate events in cities there are too few opportunities to gather and celebrate our natural larder.

So well done to the team behind Food on Film. On paper, launching a film festival linked to food in Kingussie at the start of February sounds like the plot of a disaster movie.

It’s success is a testament to ambition and determination and proof that, on screen or on the plate, we can’t get enough of our food.