Robert Kenner isn't really a food guy, or at least he didn't start out that way. As he puts it, he's just a guy who makes movies.
Yet it has come to pass that Kenner, an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning director (TV's Two Days in October) who grew up favoring a diet of roast-beef sandwiches on rye, is traveling the country these days not only to promote his powerful new documentary Food, Inc., but also to discuss the state of the nation’s supermarkets, which are routinely stocked with genetically modified vegetables and chemically enhanced meats.
Now playing at the Embarcadero Center Cinema, one of the year’s most important films, Food, Inc., traces the industrial food revolution from its mid-20th century beginnings, when new, profoundly influential restaurant chains like McDonalds introduced the factory-inspired concept of line cooking in their kitchens, to the present, when supermarkets are routinely stocked with genetically engineered meats and vegetables.
The Sonoma International Film Festival kicks off tonight with the Northern California premiere of The Answer Man, a shrewdly amusing drama starring Jeff Daniels (The Lookout, Traitor) as the author of a spiritual self-help book.
The film, which earned critical raves and a Grand Jury Prize nomination at Sundance, marks the feature debut of writer-director John Hindman, who was able to lure Daniels to the project on the strength of his script alone. (At the time, Hindman had no movie deal, much less a budget for big-name talent.) Daniels, whose reclusive writer believes none of his own bestselling psychobabble, heads a talent-rich cast featuring Lauren Graham, Kat Dennings and Juno’s Olivia Thirlby.