Eating and Drinking with Les Blank
Eating and Drinking with Les Blank
“I can’t believe that anyone interested in movies or America…could watch Blank’s work without feeling they’d been granted a casual, soft-spoken revelation.” - Time Magazine
“Blank is a documentarian of folk cultures who transforms anthropology into art.” – New York Times (John Rockwell)
“A master of movies about the American idiom… one of our most original filmmakers.” - New York Times (Vincent Canby)
“A brilliant filmmaker” - Rober Ebert
Les Blank is a renowned independent filmmaker, whose poetic work offers intimate, idiosyncratic glimpses into the lives, culture, and music of passionate people at the periphery of American society. Topics have included Cajun, Mexican, Polish, Hawaiian, and Serbian-American music and food traditions, Afro-Cuban drummers, Texas bluesmen, Appalachian fiddlers, flower children, garlic, and gap-toothed women.
ALL IN THIS TEA co-director Gina Lebrecht will be in attendance for a Q&A.
And, just like Les used to do at some of his screenings, we'll have jambalaya by the stage in crockpots available for a donation.
Les Blank marries his passion for spicy, down home food and his love for Cajuns and Creoles in this mouth-watering, exploration of the cooking and other enthusiasms of French-speaking Louisiana. Features tangy music, Marc Savoy, Paul Prudhomme, and other great cooks.
A zesty paean of praise to the greater glories of garlic. This lip-smacking foray into the history, consumption, cultivation and culinary/curative powers of the stinking rose features chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, and a flavorful musical soundtrack.
The SF Chronicle called this paean to garlic “a joyous, nose-tweaking, ear-tingling, mouth-watering tribute to a Life Force.” Nothing less than a hymn to the stinking rose of the kitchen, this lovingly photographed documentary is an odyssey of garlic feasts alternated with uniquely individual interviews of garlic afficionados. Not only does the film promote garlic as our first line of defense against all forms of blandness; it also titillates the taste buds with shots of garlic dishes sizzling in their pans. Les Blank shows again that he knows how to have a good time and share it on film – especially if it involves food!
At the end of 2004 ‘Garlic’ was one of 25 films, selected by The Library Of Congress, to be added to the National Film Registry list of now 400 motion pictures, to be preserved in perpetuity.
ll In This Tea takes us into the world of tea by following world-renowned tea expert David Lee Hoffman to some of the most remote regions of China in search of the best handmade teas in the world.
Hoffman is obsessed; during his youth, he spent four years with Tibetan monks in Nepal, which included a friendship with the Dalai Lama, and was introduced to some of the finest tea – that golden nectar with which we can taste the distant past.
Unable to find anything but insipid tea bags in the U.S., Hoffman began traveling to China to find tea for himself. In the process, he discovered the rarity of good, handmade tea, even in China, where the ancient craft of making tea has given way to mass production. This craft cannot be learned from a book, but has been handed down through generations of tea makers for thousands of years.
Hoffman tries to convince the Chinese that the farmers make better tea and that their craft should be honored and preserved. He drags the reluctant tea factory aficionados up a lush, terraced mountainside in their blue suits and bring them face to face with those ‘dirty’ farmers. In an ironic twist, Hoffman reintroduces them to their own country and one of its oldest traditions.
Images of the farmers standing streetside, selling a week’s harvest for three dollars, in the shadow of China’s increasing number of high rises illustrate the paradox that stepping into the modern world imposes. But, Hoffman is even a step ahead of his own country in that he is advocating ‘fair trade’ and organics. Despite Hoffman’s at times argumentative and condescending manner, we become increasingly empathetic to him; he is only one small voice against a vast and complex machine.
As his first film shot digitally, Les Blank was a one-man crew who blended in with the environment, taking his famous fly-on-the-wall approach even further. A handheld camera provides an unpolished intimacy with the farmers’ faces and their tea-stained hands. The film moves from a modern, urban setting to a pastoral China rarely glimpsed by westerners. Scenes shot in cinema verité are interwoven with more formal presentations about the fundamentals of tea, including a brief history lesson. This helps make clear what is at stake, and thereby lends weight to Hoffman’s endeavor.
It is hoped that the viewer will feel as if they have been somewhere they’ve never been before, and ask themselves what is out there that is worth preserving.