EXTRACT - FLAVOR ARK- DOCUMENTARY SERIES BY WALTER BENCINI

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“Flavor Ark” is the affirmation that the possibility of producing and cultivating food in a sustainable manner is, today, an economically feasible reality. This reality will be explored on a voyage visiting different italian food communities, with special attention being shown to the type of product each community generates, their modes of processing and distributing it, and, finally, their projects for the future. Although the logic of a local enterprise in a global economy based on large numbers and astronomic balances might appear anachronistic, it is the only possible path. These communities and the food they produce represent the avant-garde of a new sustainable agriculture and of a philosophy of food production attentive to organoleptic quality, sustainability and social equity, founded on a complicity and solidarity that transforms seasoned consumers into modern co-producers.

Length 4x30'
Format 4:3 PAL SECAM
Edition Italian
Shooting format Betacam SP
Director Walter Bencini
Produced by Insekt Multimedia 2006
 
Episode 1: A Designer Bean, The Rebel Chicken of the Arno Valley (32mn)
Episode 2: Zeri Lamb, a Frontier Animal (29mn)
Episode 3: The Chestnut Civilization, Pig Culture: Tarese and the Pork Artisans (29mn)
Episode 4: Maremma, Land of Presidia (29mn)

Episode 1

A Designer Bean
The Zolfino bean is legendary in Tuscany’s agriculture and cuisine, a star that has stolen the show in recent years like few other products. Rare, highly sought-after and expensive, the bean has even been imitated by poor-quality fakes as though it was a designer handbag. The local farmers have been sowing the beans for many generations, even though their cultivation is fraught with difficulties and demands great effort.
The Rebel Chicken of the Arno Valley
Valdarno White chickens are a hardy breed, rebelling against cages and long appreciated for their firm and flavorful meat. The breed has survived thanks to the rural tradition of raising a few chickens for family consumption, and the dedicated commitment of a dozen small-scale producers, who are now networking themselves with a new professionalism.

Episode 2
The Tradition of Zeri Lamb
Over the course of the centuries, the Zeri sheep breed has managed to distinguish itself from its other Italian cousins because of forced isolation in remote environments. Even though Zeri lamb is one of the jewels of Italian gastronomy, it was at risk of extinction. But a few years ago several local farmers, mostly young people and women, decided to dedicate time, energy and passion to tending and breeding these sheep, developing a small-scale economy and safeguarding a rich heritage of skills and traditions.

Episode 3
The Chestnut Civilization
Along with grapevines and olive trees, the chestnut tree plays a leading role in the Tuscan culture and landscape. This large tree has been known for centuries for its nuts and the versatility of its wood, used in everything from agriculture to crafts. Scholars talk about the “chestnut civilization” to emphasize its importance in the daily life of mountain communities.
Pig Culture: Tarese and the Pork Artisans
Tarese is one of Italy’s largest cured meats, reaching up to 3 feet in length. The rare pancetta had been almost completely forgotten, but a small group of artisan butchers decided to revive its production, supported by a Slow Food Presidium project and the local authorities. Though only a few hundred are produced each year, nonetheless Tarese has become an important symbol of a project linking local taste and culture.

Episode 4
Wild Beef
Maremmana cattle roam freely in the Tuscan Maremma, an imposing white breed with characteristic lyre-shaped horns. The cattle can only survive when they have access to large spaces. The herds are tended by cowboys on horseback, who oversee every single one of their farm’s cows from birth onwards. Despite the growing demand for Maremmana beef, the few remaining farmers find it impossible to expand their herds, because of the lack of space available for pasture.
Lagoon Fishers
The marshy lagoons along the Tuscan coast have been fished since Etruscan times. The focus is a type of mullet, whose roe is used to make the famous Orbetello bottarga. Production is managed by a community of local fisherman, who are responsible for the entire chain, from fishing to processing to direct sales. They even run a restaurant, which serves the best of the lagoon cuisine.
The Pearl of the Seas
Known as palamita in Italian, the Atlantic bonito is a fish similar to tuna, which has long been part of the diet of Elba’s families. Recently, however, it has been reevaluated as an important source of income for the local economy. Though it is not yet an “at risk” species, stocks are suffering from the industrial fishing fleets that are over-exploiting the resources of the Mediterranean.

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