CFI wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving with these three films to feast on! From multi-cultural culinary masterpieces to cooking disasters and family drama, these films provide all the Thanksgiving staples. Bon appétit!
MVFF PROGRAMMING ASSOCIATE CELESTE WONG SELECTS
PIECES OF APRIL
Director: Peter Hedges (US, 2003) 80 min
“What’s Thanksgiving without a little family dysfunction? In this charming holiday indie, April (Katie Holmes) invites her estranged family over for Thanksgiving in an attempt to reconcile and to prove to them that she is now a responsible adult and not the troubled daughter she once was. Interweaving the misadventures of April’s attempts to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, and her family begrudgingly making the road trip to see her, Peter Hedges’ directorial debut provides a grounded, humorous, and touching glimpse into all of the ups and downs of family drama that this particular holiday is famous for. Featuring a brilliant Academy Award®-nominated performance by Patricia Clarkson as April’s terminally-ill, wise-cracking mother, Pieces of April is the perfect film to make the non-culinary inclined and awkward family members feel seen.” –Celeste Wong
CFI EDUCATION PROGRAM MANAGER MELANIE NICHOLS SELECTS
DIANA KENNEDY: NOTHING FANCY
Director: Elizabeth Carroll (US/Mexico, 2019) 75 min
“An absorbing and inspiring food-soaked chronicle of Diana Kennedy, the unstoppable, indefatigable, nonagenarian cookbook author and renowned gastronomical anthropologist who has dedicated over six decades of her life to traversing Mexico–seeking out authentic regional cuisines, recipes, preparations, and ingredients. The film follows her to local farmers’ markets and lets us ride along with her as she travels tiny roads to small villages and pursues her life’s mission.” –Melanie Nichols
MVFF DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING ZOË ELTON SELECTS
SOUL OF A BANQUET
Dir. Wayne Wang (US, 2014) 78 min
In 1961, Cecilia Chiang opened San Francisco’s world-famous Mandarin Restaurant, and a culinary star was born. Centered around an absorbing, emotional interview with Chiang herself and sprinkled with colorful insights from Alice Waters and Ruth Reichl, this mesmerizing, moving tribute brings to the table a unique San Francisco success story.
Read the profile on Wayne Wang and Cecilia Chiang, written by Cheryl Eddy in the MVFF37 Program Guide(pages 44-45).
“It was in 2014 that Wayne Wang’s delicious Soul of a Banquet played at MVFF and offered us the rare opportunity to honor a chef and restaurateur, Cecilia Chiang, the subject of the film. Chiang was a trailblazing entrepreneur, known for The Mandarin, her famed restaurant in San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square. Born and brought up in China, she fled the Japanese during World War II and came to San Francisco, where she discovered that Chinese food being served in restaurants bore no resemblance to the dishes she grew up with. Through a series of unlikely events, she opened her own restaurant and introduced Americans to dishes like potstickers, Sichuan eggplant, moo shu pork, and sizzling rice soup. Alice Waters compared Chiang’s role in elevating Chinese cuisine in America with what Julia Child did for French cuisine. And so she did, earning her place in culinary history as ‘the mother of Chinese cooking.’” –Zoë Elton, honoring Cecilia Chiang (1920–2020).