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The Flatirons Food Film Festival (FFFF) is back—pandemic notwithstanding. This year, the Boulder-based event will be virtual, of course, but attendees can expect many of the same components from years past, including live screenings, Q&A discussions with esteemed culinary experts, and ample opportunities to munch on local goodies.
The eighth annual FFFF, which runs from Thursday, January 28 to Friday, February 5, includes 13 food-centric film programs and post-film conversations. There are also five separate activities that encompass music, art, kid-friendly crafting, and conversation with Colorado hospitality pros. “There’s a lot to tune in to,” says Julia Joun, executive director of the FFFF.
As always, the festival aims to provide a “well-rounded depiction of our food culture,” says Joun, through the lenses of agriculture, activism, chefs, and restaurants. In 2021, participants will notice an extra emphasis on Indigenous and underrepresented cultures, with films and post-film discussions including:
- A $6 Cup of Coffee, which follows an indigenous Tzeltal-Maya family as they struggle to sell their coffee abroad while protecting their identity, land, and quality of life. After the film, there will be a recorded discussion led by researcher Leigh Holbrook, founder of OneHome Collective, a nonprofit that supports Indigneous communities in Mexico.
- Gather, which documents Native Americans reclaiming their spiritual and cultural identities through their ancestral food systems. A post-film discussion will be led by Clint Carroll, associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies and executive board member of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies at CU-Boulder.
- Keepers of Black American Food Culture, a series of seven short films from the Southern Foodways Alliance that spotlights Black American culinary personalities. Following the films, Adrian Miller, the subject of one of the films and an award-winning local food writer, will discuss the series with filmmaker Joe York.
- A Taste of Sky, which follows two students from Gustu, a cooking school and fine-dining restaurant for underprivileged Bolivian youth established by Noma co-founder Claus Meyer. After the film, Best Served podcast host Jenson Cummings will lead a live discussion with Michael Lei, the film’s director.
- Setting the Bar: A Craft Chocolate Origin Story, which documents top American craft chocolate makers as they go to the Peruvian Amazon jungle to meet cacao farmers, search for undiscovered varieties, and showcase their chocolate-making. Post film, local food journalist John Lehndorff will explain how to taste craft chocolate and lead a discussion with three of the experts in the film.
For an even more immersive experience, festival goers can buy four paired dinners from local restaurants to enjoy as they watch corresponding films. “Restaurants have supported us so generously every year, and so this is our opportunity to actually help them out and to spotlight their great food and steer business to them,” Joun explains. These pairings include:
- French dinners from Brasserie Boulder, Mateo, and La Merise to go with the screening of Vatel, a costume drama set in 1671 that follows a master chef as he orchestrates elaborate meals and entertainment for a visit by King Louis XIV of France
- Early 19th century Oregon Territory-inspired dinners from the Post Brewing Co. (Boulder, Denver, and Lafayette locations) to enjoy with First Cow, a critically acclaimed drama about a cook who travels West in the 1820s to seek fortune
- Pasta meal kits from Frasca Food and Wine and Pastificio Boulder that correspond with Funke, a documentary about esteemed handmade pasta chef Evan Funke
- Mexican mole dinners from Sancho’s Authentic Mexican Restaurant and Teocalli Cocina, and a three-pack of craft chocolate bars to go with Setting the Bar: A Craft Chocolate Origin Story
Yet another highlight of the FFF, which in 2019 drew more than 1,200 attendees: Several of the events are free or pay-what-you-can. “We’re not an elitist festival,” says Joun. “We’re a community festival. And we think that food is important and compelling for everyone, or should be, and so we want to have things that are affordable.” Free and pay-what-you-can events include:
- A live discussion about how independent local restaurants are weathering the pandemic and what we can do to help save them, featuring Caroline Glover of Annette, Dana Query of the Big Red F Restaurant Group, Jimmy Seidel of Snarf’s Sandwiches, and Bobby Stuckey of Frasca Hospitality Group. Sara Brito of the Good Food 100 will moderate the discussion.
- A children’s program featuring two short sock puppet films, plus a make-your-own sock puppet tutorial from master puppeteer Cory Gilstrap in Arvada
- A food and film trivia game night with prizes from Weldwerks Brewing Co., Stem Ciders, and ThermoWorks
- A live discussion about food waste in the Denver metro area with UpRoot Colorado, the Boulder Food Project, and the City and County of Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency
If you attend: The 2021 virtual FFFF runs from Thursday, January 28 to Friday, February 5. Tickets cost up to $15 per event. You can also buy a virtual film pass to view all films (from $90) or ticket packs to view a selection of films (from $22). Most programs are available throughout the U.S. and some are also available internationally. Attendees can watch the films as they premiere, or view them on-demand at a later date, says Joun. Visit the festival’s website for ticketing, a full schedule, and more details on events.