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Flatirons Food Film Festival launches ‘Dinner and a Movie’ series ahead of fall event

Participants can enjoy culinary pairings from local eateries and post-film Q&As via Zoom

Attendees of the Flatirons Food Film Festival take in a film in October 2019 at Boulder Public Library. FFFF is offering a virtual experience with the ‘Dinner and a Movie’ series that debuts April 24. As of now, the 8th annual festival is scheduled for Oct. 8-11.  (Bryan Edward/ Courtesy photo)
Attendees of the Flatirons Food Film Festival take in a film in October 2019 at Boulder Public Library. FFFF is offering a virtual experience with the ‘Dinner and a Movie’ series that debuts April 24. As of now, the 8th annual festival is scheduled for Oct. 8-11. (Bryan Edward/ Courtesy photo)

In the months leading up to the annual Flatirons Food Film Festival, organizers often host mixers and social events at area art venues — featuring cuisine from local chefs — to give folks a taste of the festivities that lie ahead. With coronavirus closures and the stay-at-home order, festival executive director Julia Joun is bringing the event experience right to people’s residences with the launch of “Dinner and a Movie” — a virtual smorgasbord consisting of films paired with corresponding take-out meals from area restaurants, along with Savory Spice Shop recipes folks can prepare in their home kitchen and Zoom Q&As with culinary industry professionals.

From left, Suzanne Prendergast, instructor at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts and former festival board member, and Jeff Reid, festival volunteer and Savory Spice Shop employee, sample food at the 2019 Flatirons Food Film Festival at Boulder Public Library in October. (Bryan Edward / Courtesy photo)

The series kicks off 6:30 p.m. Friday with “Tazzeka,” a dramedy about a Moroccan boy who wants to become a French haute-cuisine chef. Approximately one hour before the event, all participants will receive an email with access information for the streaming film, a live film intro and post-panel discussion via Zoom. A $5 viewing fee is required. On Friday, May 1, “East Side Sushi” will be screened. Takeout and delivery meals will be available from Japango.

We caught up with Joun to find out what it has been like taking these in-person experiences to the web, what attendees can expect from the festival in October and what she looks forward to doing once we no longer have to practice social distancing.

Daily Camera: Obviously this year’s circumstances have made it so we can’t gather and share food, but y’all are offering some virtual events ahead of the main fall event in such a creative way. What’s the process been like organizing these?

Julia Joun: We have always conducted many of our organizing remotely through email, texts or phone calls, such as asking for film previews and soliciting event speakers and restaurants. However, there are situations, such as building relationships at social events, meeting busy chefs in their restaurants to go over details and coming to collective decisions at committee meetings, that work best in person. Now, we do everything remotely with the addition of video-conferencing for a more human connection — albeit one where I am wiggling to find a position that makes me look OK online.

DC: Love that you are working with restaurants to offer takeout that goes with the theme of the films. What are some of the culinary offerings you are most excited about?

JJ: Chef and owner Dakota Soifer of Cafe Aion has a long history of offering Moroccan cuisine. I am already imagining the succulence of the braised-beef short rib of his Tazzeka dinner. Also, I love that he is offering a Moroccan vegetarian dinner, too. Chef Hosea Rosenberg’s Blackbelly is offering a classic and fabled Moroccan dish, chicken Bastilla — spiced chicken, saffron, almonds, crispy phyllo — that I have always wanted to try. Babettes Pizza and Pane in Longmont is no longer just a stellar bakery. They are offering sophisticated dinners. When I recently saw that they were offering a chicken tagine as a special, I had to ask them to participate.

DC: What can we expect from the upcoming Q&A with pioneer of culinary travel Peggy Markel and Sara Brito, president of Good Food Media on Friday?

JJ: We just had a trial run of the event. Our viewers will be in for a treat. Peggy Markel loves Morocco and the Moroccan people. She has been spending time there for over 20 years and knows so much about the cuisine and culture. Sara and Peggy are friends and have already been mapping out what to discuss. Viewers can expect fascinating personal observations and stories from Peggy facilitated by Sara’s keen intellect and deep preparation.

Stef Ferrari, three-time Emmy-winning and James Beard-nominated documentary producer of “The Migrant Kitchen” series, speaks at the opening night of Flatirons Food Film Festival in October 2019 at Boulder Public Library. (Bryan Edward / Courtesy photo)

DC: Are you still planning on hosting the fest in October 2020? If so, what are you planning for the eighth annual event?

JJ: It’s a wait-and-see time for our eighth festival, scheduled for Oct. 8-11. If it is safe to gather, we will hold a live festival. If not, our inclination is to hold an online festival. I have booked four films that will have compelling culinary events if we have a live festival. Some topics would be chocolate, hand-rolled pasta and food waste. If we have an online festival, the focus and film lineup will be more about education and speakers. That doesn’t mean that we won’t have a culinary element like we have in our “Dinner and a Movie” series. However, it’s limited what you can do with an online festival. There’s nothing like a bunch of people grooving on food and film together in the same room. If you see photos of our culinary events, you can’t miss the satiated smiles and energy of the crowd.

DC: As a culinary enthusiast and one who loves to share culinary experiences with folks, is this stay-at-home order particularity hard for you? Are you doing a lot of home cooking? What are you most looking forward to once we can gather again?

JJ: I appreciate the wonderful take-out food that restaurants are making despite the hardships they are undergoing, and get takeout whenever I can. However, I really miss restaurants and meeting friends there. The discovery of a great new dish, camaraderie of dining together — they aren’t happening now and it’s sad. I am cooking, but it’s ordinary fare. Once we can gather again, I want to have all of the meals that people are promising to cook me on Zoom, watch a lot of movies in the theaters and talk food with my restaurant and farmer buddies. And, go to the farmers markets.