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NY Times piece on the Berlin Film Festival’s Culinary Cinema Program includes Last Call at the Oasis events

February 13, 2012, 6:00 am Food Takes the Spotlight at Berlin Film Festival By CHARLY WILDER It’s not that we don’t like popcorn,” said Thomas Struck, director of the Culinary Cinema program, which runs through Feb. 18 as part of this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. “But either the food doesn’t get the attention, or the movies don’t – it is a habit, but it’s not a nice one.” Mr. Struck founded the program in 2007 with Dieter Kosslick, the Berlinale director and a longtime proponent of the International Slow Food Movement. Chefs were asked to create meals inspired by films about food – particularly those that explore the global, cultural and environmental dimensions of what we eat. This year’s French-inflected lineup matches six star chefs, like  Andoni Luis Aduriz, a Basque country standout, and Marco Müller of Berlin, with 15 features and short films under the motto, “Trust in Taste.” The features are screened at 7:30 p.m. at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, followed by a three-course  meal served in an opulent mirrored tent dubbed the “Gropius Mirror.” “Movies and food have a lot more in common than you might think,” Mr. Struck said. “The dimension of timing, from the ingredients to the mise en place – the drama on the screen reverberates on the plate.” Tomorrow night pairs a menu by the award-winning German chef Michael Kempf with the world premiere of “Step Up to the Plate,” Paul Lacoste’s documentary about the Michelin-starred chef Michel Bras and his son. Wednesday includes “Last Call at the Oasis,” Jessica Yu’s documentary about the global water crisis. The screening will be preceded by a talk with one of the movie’s stars, the American activist Erin Brockovich, and followed with a meal by Christian Lohse, who runs the kitchen of one of Berlin’s top-rated restaurants, Fischers Fritz. Since the program’s inception,  collaborations have been launched at film festivals in San Sebastian and Poznan, and last year MoMA in New York honored Dieter Kosslick with a food-and-film event he helped to curate. Similar projects have cropped up throughout Europe, from Croatia and the Netherlands to Scotland. “We just want to be part of the discourse on the importance of food,” said Mr. Kosslick, who says he doesn’t see the project as necessarily high-end and suggests that  “star cuisine” could draw audiences to movie houses in a way comparable to the film industry’s star system. Yet with Culinary Cinema’s 59-euro ticket price (about $77), it seems unlikely that mainstream movie audiences will trade in their popcorn any time soon. “It is a niche for sure,”  Mr. Struck conceded, “but many good things are happening in niches – particularly in culture – and food should be thought of as culture.” http://intransit.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/food-takes-the-spotlight-at-berlin-film-festival/