Imagine staring at a 30-by-70 foot cheeseburger. Fresh from the grill, its meat sizzles before you, a dollop of bright red ketchup slowly oozes from the bun. Craving one? That's what filmmaker George Motz figured when he released his 2006 documentary Hamburger America featuring eight mouthwateringly unique burger joints across the country. Which is why Motz decided it wasn't enough just to show the movie, although the film received critical success and a James Beard Award nom, viewers needed to taste those juicy burgers.
"We showed the film and served the burgers, and people loved it," Motz says. "I realized we were onto something here." That something was the inspiration for the Food Film Festival which, eight years later, has expanded into a three-city celebration showcasing the very best in cinematic gustatory art. And this week it arrives in Charleston.
"It's extraordinarily complicated to pull off," says Motz. For this year's Charleston event, the organizer and his team have wrangled a distillery, a brewery, four nationally acclaimed pitmasters, 13 chefs, and the flight deck of the USS Yorktown. That's in addition to the 21 short films that attendees will view while eating what they see on the screen over the three-day fest.
So how did Charleton luck out as a FFF location? Family, of course. "My mother grew up in Awendaw and North Charleston," says Motz. The city's booming culinary scene didn't hurt either. "The food culture here has always been robust, but in the last few years it's become robust-plus." Motz knew Charleston would have both the interest and the chef manpower to make the festival work.
But as to whether Charleston is ready for the second edition of FFF's more bawdy offering Thursday night, the filmmaker isn't so sure. "The Food Porn Party is a night of movies that feature beautiful extreme close-ups of food set to music. And the World's First Food Porn Star, Larry Caldwell, will be there too." For more on Caldwell and a breakdown of the highlights of each night, be sure to watch the Eat food blog.