IDFA Forum / Central Pitch. Andreas Johnsen's "Ai Weiwei The Fake Case" screened in IDFA's main competition last year. The Danish filmmaker's next documentary, "Bugs", digs into the phenomenon of entomophagy, or "insect eating."
In the company of two talented chefs from Noma's non-profit Nordic Food Lab, director Andreas Johnsen travels the world to sample a variety of insects and investigate whether bugs are the solution to global malnutrition and food shortages. He took the time to answer some questions on the topic.
Why is it important to study how insects can become part of our diet in the Western world?
"Basically, it’s a question of feeding the world’s growing population while still looking out for the planet. Insects are predicted to be the next big food trend because of their nutritional potential, low environmental cost and, some would say, good taste. But to have a real impact, it has to advance from an interesting idea to a greater trend."
What are the biggest obstacles to that?
"Clearly the cultural barriers against eating insects ... We have no tradition for it. So most people think it's disgusting. I try to examine how to break down the cultural barriers. If you had never seen a shellfish or a chicken before, you would think that was disgusting, too. How do you change that attitude? But it’s also a matter of how the food is going to be produced. If we successfully persuade people to eat insects, we have to start mass-producing them, and how do we ensure that industrially produced bugs taste as good as what we find in nature?"
What's your most extreme experience so far?
"I have always been a very curious person and I'm never afraid to try all sorts of weird things, seen from a Western perspective. So it wasn't really that much of a leap for me to start eating insects. The chefs and I even ate them alive sometimes just to see how that tasted. There's a reason why people all over the world eat insects. It usually has to do with the fact that they taste good."
Is there any specific insect you would recommend?
"Yes, take something like a termite queen, a termite roughly eight centimetres long and full of eggs. It's really delicious, almost like foie gras."
Ben Reade and Josh Evans are two chefs working on a three-year grant to study the practice of eating insects in different cultures around the world. Andreas Johnsen tags along to record and document their fieldwork. To date, they have visited Australia, Mexico, Peru and parts of Africa. Their next stop is Japan.
"Bugs" is produced by Sigrid Dyekjær for Rosforth Film and Danish Documentary Production.
Between Two Worlds
IDFA Forum / Round Table. It's been nearly a decade since we first met Sommai, Kae and Basit, three Thai women arriving in a small, windswept village in Denmark to find husbands.
Now, in "Between Two Worlds", director Janus Metz is back to record their lives and the effect their decision to leave their home in Thailand has had on them and their loved ones.
Sommai lives by the North Sea in Denmark and heads a wide network of mail-order brides from Thailand who are married to Danish men. She was the first Thai to arrive in the area and ever since she has been helping her "sisters" make the same journey.
Set in Thailand and Denmark, and centring on Sommai, "Between Two Worlds" follows four married couples over 10 years in a drama about globalisation seen from the perspective of marriage migration.
The unique time frame of the filming has made it possible to portray the changes in the characters' lives as well as the changes happening in Thailand and Denmark. We witness dreams meeting reality and actions having consequences.
"Between Two Worlds" is a documentary project embracing four individual films and a feature-length documentary. Back in 2008, Janus Metz released "Love on Delivery" and "Ticket to Paradise", about Sommai and her endeavour to help Thai women. Returning to the same characters, he is now making "Seven Years Later" and "A World Apart" from all new material. Finally, "Between Two Worlds" is based on the material of all four individual films.
Like its predecessors, the new films are made in close collaboration with anthropologist Sine Plambech, whose internationally recognised fieldwork among marriage migrants and sex workers is the backbone of the project.
"Between Two Worlds" is produced by Henrik Veileborg for Upfront Films and Metz Film.