DIR: Yung Chang | Canada | 2012 | 90 mins | English
RAIFF | Saturday Nov. 17 | 7:00 pm | Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts
Theatrical Release | Friday Nov. 23 | 8:45 pm | The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
The Fruit Hunters will change the way you look at your fruit bowl.
Inspired by the New York Times acclaimed book of the same name, Yung Chang‘s documentary The Fruit Hunters is a delicious journey through space and time. Chang (director of Up The Yangtze and China Heavyweight) introduces us to a handful of fruit obsessed adventurers who guide us through a world of fruit beyond the grocery store.
From the jungles of Borneo to the hills of Hollywood and from the markets of Bali to the monasteries of Umbria, these hunters quest for the exotic. Sumptuous close-ups of rare fruits fill the screen—shapes, sizes and textures that exceed the imagination of most fruit salads.
True to Chang’s description of a day spent foraging with fruit hunters in Hawaii’s backcountry, “like getting a secret tour of Willy Wonka’s factory,” Chang’s film presents a playful celebration of fruit.
But any film that deals with the environment can’t be entirely upbeat.
The impacts of monoculture factory farming, that produces the bulk of the fruit found in supermarkets, is an undercurrent that runs throughout the film. And the threats of logging means that many exotic fruits hang in jungles and forests in perilous states. Tasting and collecting, cataloging and propagating—fruit hunters act as guardians of biodiversity.
Chang tells us that the variety of fruit available in the world is almost infinite. And, stylistically, The Fruit Hunters is nearly as diverse as its subject.
Take the story of the lychee, for example, the fruit that brought down the Tang Dynasty. Chang uses animation and dramatic reenactments to weave in this historical narrative. And then there’s the Bing cherry, the McIntosh apple, the Hass avocado, and the Clementine orange. The tales of how these fruits were introduced to the world is portrayed with the help of actors and setsMcIntosh applestraying from the ordinary, one could argue monoculture, documentary approach.
The Fruit Hunters had its sold out world premiere at the Montreal International Documentary Festival on Saturday Nov. 10 and will be screening at the Reel Asian International Film Fest on Saturday Nov. 17, followed by a sampling of exotic fruit in the theatre’s lobby.
The Fruit Hunters has its theatrical release at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Nov. 23.
Zoe Tennant is a Vancouverite who has lived elsewhere for many years. You can follow her @Zoe_Tennant