Filmmaker Renée Rietveld shares her first local pick: the Reel Food Film Festival

The Reel Food Film Festival is back in action with two evenings of films this spring. Each will feature a full-length film and one short.


Renée Rietveld is a lifetime Ottawan and current Sttitsvillian, who is a senior public servant by day, and a documentary filmmaker (and co-owner of On the Street Cinema) by night. Apart from her sometimes unhealthy obsession with the world of film, she also enjoys long distance running, traveling, photography, reading, and having a pint at Darcy McGee’s. But not all at the same time.

I’ve lived in Ottawa almost all my life (23 years), and sometimes it’s easy to forget about how amazing and creative a city this is. While to me this place has always been a big dish of comforting sights: museums, galleries, OC Transpo buses, people skating on the canal… I think I love it most when it surprises me.

Case in point: Ottawa’s thriving film scene.

We often think of Toronto or Vancouver as the ‘film capitals of Canada’ and they’ve earned that right. Sure, Ottawa can’t compare to say, the Toronto International Film Festival, but this city is made up of a large group of  dedicated filmmakers and festival promoters that make the it a great place to be a film buff.

Being an aspiring documentary filmmaker myself, and an all around film nut, I was lucky enough a few years ago to stumble across a little group of locals that put on the Reel Food Film Festival.

Now in its fourth year, this festival started as a way of getting people to think more about the food they eat and where it comes from, while showing great documentaries about food and how we live with it. They are always looking to support local filmmakers, and work hard to find the best films about food from around the world each year.

The other great thing? Admission is free (with a suggested donation of $5), and while there you can check out and support great local food programs like The Ottawa Good Food Box.

Sound like something you’d be into? This year’s spring session of films (they also do a small screening in the fall) will be screened on March 24 and 30, 2011 in the Ottawa Public Library Auditorium. Each showing also includes at least one accompanying short film.

This year’s feature-length films are:

March 24, 2011: DIVE!, a film by Jeremy Seifert (45 min, 2010, USA)

Inspired by a curiosity about his country’s careless habit of sending food straight to landfills, DIVE! follows filmmaker Jeremy Seifert and friends as they dumpster dive in the back alleys and gated garbage receptacles of Los Angeles’ supermarkets. In the process, they salvage thousands of dollars worth of good, edible food – resulting in a documentary that is equal parts entertainment, guerilla journalism and call to action.


March 30, 2011: La reine malade, a film by Pascal Sanchez (90 min, 2009, Canada)

Presented in French with English subtitles

A film about Anicet Desrochers, a Quebec beekeeper and internationally renowned expert on sustainable agriculture. Since taking charge of his parents’ Hautes-Laurentides hives in 1998, Desrochers noted a spectacular collapse of the world’s bee colonies as a result of the industrialization of farmland. In order to shed some light on this traditional and threatened form of farming, filmmaker Pascal Sanchez decided to document the Desrochers family’s unique way of combining genetics and traditional techniques to protect their queens from predators and bad weather, as well as their worries about the consequences that declining pollination is likely to have on 40 per cent of today’s food production.

Surprised that you didn’t know about this awesome little festival? There are plenty more like it. Stay tuned and I can hopefully provide you with more great Local Tourist film-going suggestions throughout the year.

Someone hand me the popcorn!

Thanks Renée! We look forward to hearing more film tips from you!