Hot Docs 2023: Qs à la mode with… Laura Gabbert (Food and Country)

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In Food and Country, director Laura Gabbert teams with esteemed food critic Ruth Reichl to explore how the pandemic has exacerbated the problems with the food system in the United States. We posed our Qs à la mode to Laura, and here’s what she shared!

If I had to describe my film using only three adjectives, they would be: Eye-opening, compassionate, and expansive.

I decided to make this film because: [Ruth and I] were concerned about the fate of our food system at the beginning of the pandemic. 

The thing that surprised me most about my film’s subject/topic was: That, for the most part, the people behind our food — the independent farmers, ranchers and fishermen — transcend political divisions and agree more than they disagree about how to make our food healthier, more equitable, and better for the planet. 

My favorite moment/scene/sequence in my film is: The one in which Kansas rancher, Steve Stratford, talks about the erosion of rural America. He so is eloquent and it’s moving to hear Steve describe the decline of his town — Pratt, Kansas.

The most challenging part of making my film was: The editing of the film, because of the sheer number of fantastic subjects Ruth Reichl interviewed over the course of a year. The film takes on many aspects of our food system, and it was challenging to find the right balance of issues, and then interconnect our subjects to those issues. 

My most invaluable piece of doc-making gear was/is: Probably my N95 mask was the most invaluable doc-making item as we shot most of the film when Covid-19 was still raging.

One piece of documentary-filmmaking advice I’d like to share with aspiring documentarians is: I think young documentary filmmakers should watch and study as many documentaries as possible. I’m often times surprised by how few documentaries aspiring filmmakers have seen. 

Want to check out Laura’s film or just learn more about it?
Get the scoop, and your tickets, here!


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