Grapes and seeds

Food documentaries worth biting into

A scene from Open Sesame: the Story of Seeds

The inaugural A Taste of Art: Boulder’s Art and Food Festival at The Dairy Center for the Arts includes several interesting documentaries. Here are BW’s picks for the tastiest viewing. A wine tasting from Hazel’s Wine Bar will follow the screening of A Year in Burgundy on June 13th and a Q&A with the director of Open Sesame will follow the screening on June 12th. Tickets and more information at


According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2012, 35 percent of Americans picked wine as their beverage of choice over beer and liquor. Each year, wine consumption continues to increase and more Americans are savvier wine drinkers. Yet, so many questions still surround wine. How is wine made? What is a good vintage? Why does that bottle cost so much? What in the world does terroir, bouquet, aroma, body, finish and tannins actually mean? Filmmaker David Kennard asks a simpler question:

“Where does really great wine come from?” 

The answer Kennard comes up with is right there in the title of his latest documentary, A Year in Burgundy. Kennard, who writes, produces and directs, provides a crash-course in winemaking by following seven families through one entire year of winemaking. Each of these families has been making wine for many generations and their knowledge and technique has been handed down through hundreds of years of tradition. Kennard documents the 2011 seasons in spring with planting and bud-break and charts the prog ress from growing to picking, crush to ferment, barrel age and cellaring to finally pruning the vines in the foggy and smoky winter in preparation of the next spring. Although the narration and sober piano that accompanies the soundtrack can get overbearing at times, Kennard seeks to educate his audience as best he can in the many steps involved with winemaking. It is far more complex than simply growing grapes. Winemaking takes an unbelievable amount of toil and attention and Kennard lovingly documents the work. Burgundy wine is pricey to begin with and can get ridiculously expensive, but once you see the steps involved, it doesn’t seem as ridiculous.


Documentarian M. Sean Kaminsky follows organic farmers and seed archivists from Canada, Indian and the U.S. as they try to keep the knowledge and diversity of seed culture alive. These farmers and educators know that now is the time to step in and protect the seeds that are under siege from the giant corporation Monsanto and their genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

In 1982, Monsanto planted its first GMO, and since they have very successfully sold their product everywhere they can, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimating that 94 percent of soy and 88 percent of corn in the U.S. is GMO.

Seeds play a more integral part to our diet than one might think. According to a statistic from the documentary, upwards of 90 percent of our caloric intake is from seeds, both directly and indirectly. No wonder Monsanto wants to get in on that racket. No wonder these people are pissed off. Watching this movie, you might wonder, ‘Why aren’t more?’ 

Instead of organic patents and corporations, the farmers of Open Sesame want an open source movement based on the success of open source software that enforces sharing over monopolization. Each person holding themselves accountable and taking matters into their own hands can achieve this. Open Sesame remains optimistic that someday, David will slay Goliath.

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