Recognizing the power of film as an educational tool, two contests — both geared towards highlighting the importance and complexity of the world’s food system — through short films are accepting submissions.
The first, the Real Food Media Contest, is part of the Real Food Media Project, a collaborative initiative with both online resources and grassroots events nationwide for sharing stories of sustainable food and farming, and ‘myth-busting’ in the process.
“The Contest taps into the growing interest about food from all corners of the country and inspires up-and-coming filmmakers alongside established ones to create original, bold — and super short — content,” said founder and director Anna Lappé.
Consistent with the trend of shorter and shorter video content online, thanks in part to Instagram and Vine, entries must not exceed four minutes in length. The Grand Prize-winning film will debut at TEDxManhattan — Changing the Way We Eat on March 7, 2015 in New York City and at the Food + Farm Film Festival in San Francisco (date TBA).
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The first annual Real Food Media contest generated more than 100,000 views of the top finalists’ films, with the top five awarded cash prizes totaling $10,000. The Grand Prize winner, Homeward, went to Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine for their film about a community of transplanted Mexican farmers who create a thriving cooperative with organic oregano.
The rest of the top five covered topics ranging from the vanishing breed of beekeepers to feeding students in the poorest congressional district in America and raising ‘organic citizens.’
This year’s submissions will be voted on by a panel of celebrity foodies including Michael Pollan, Padma Lakshmi, Alice Waters, The Jamie Oliver Foundation and chef Tom Colicchio; the top 10 will be decided by public online vote.
“More and more people are curious about the story behind their food,” Colicchio, chef and owner of Craft Restaurants and executive producer of A Place at the Table, said in the official release. “The Contest inspires filmmakers to make creative short films and provides a platform to get these important stories seen and heard by a huge audience. We can't wait to see the new crop of films."
The Real Food Media Project is a program of Food Mythbusters, known for its own series of videos that debunk various food myths - such as this video from 2012 that addresses the claim that industrial agriculture is required to feed the world, and 2013’s The Myth of Choice: How Junk-Food Marketers Target Our Kids, which specifically called out McDonald’s. The organization says its efforts to engage with younger kids are an ongoing priority in order to cultivate more consciously aware next-gen consumers.
Across the pond in the UK, the Edible Films 2014 competition is also aimed at engaging kids about food: producing, cooking and eating it. Now accepting entries from fledgling filmmakers aged 4-25 years, qualifying films must be extra-short — 50 seconds or less — perhaps designed to appeal to its younger filmmakers’ short attention spans.
The emphasis on children is the work of Jane Langley, founder and CEO of Cool It World, whose organization, Cool it Vision — which works with schools, corporations and charities to create art installations, films, media events, exhibitions and education workshops with a sustainability message — sponsors the contest.
“This idea came to me because I thought, ‘what’s the best way to get these messages out to the population?’ And the obvious answer was very short films,” Langley explains in this video. “The films that have been submitted have been absolutely wonderful, and the feedback from teachers, as well. The teachers have said, just as a way of engaging kids, it's been spectacularly successful. … The contest privileges young people by giving them a platform of cultural significance.”
The competition’s theme is tied in with the yearly efforts of the UN — 2013’s theme was “Hot Water,” to align with the International Year of Water Cooperation; this year’s competition ties in with the UN International Year of Family Farming. View the current submissions here.
The Edible Films competition is free to enter and closes October 30, 2014. Winning films will receive a £500 cash prize and be shown at a celebration screening in central London on December 2.
No art passes our conscience in the way film does,
and goes directly to our feelings,
deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.”