Tuesday, April 28, 2015

SFIFF: City of Gold

Last Saturday evening I joined a line at the Kabuki Cinema that went around the block for City of Gold, a new documentary about Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic for the LA Times. The rumpled Mr. Gold comes across as a critic for the people, as we see him drive around LA in a Dodge pickup, adventurously eating anywhere, from food trucks to modern French restaurants. He shows a warm enthusiasm for everything, even places he hates. We're made to feel like we're just hanging out with him while he's out to lunch with Calvin Trillin or at home with his family.

The film contains excerpts from Mr. Gold's reviews, interviews with food writers & chefs & nice stories about the small, hard-working restauranteurs that he has made successful by writing about them. The festival audience laughed at the look of fear that glazes over the face of the chef at a fancy restaurant when the critic walks in with a party of 6. It's also fun seeing footage of Mr. Gold playing cello in a punk band back in the day. Like Mr. Gold's reviews, the movie is really about Los Angeles itself, which is presented as a colorful & vibrant hive of ethnic enclaves.

Director of Programming Rachel Rosen conducted a Q&A with filmmaker Laura Gabbert & Mr. Gold after the screening. Ms. Gabbert told us she was able to gradually approach Mr. Gold about being the subject of the film because both their kids go to the same school. She shot the film on & off over a period of 5 years. The ending credits show Mr. Gold cooking at home with his family, & it was nice to learn that he actually cooks for his family most days before he goes out to work. Of course all the audience wanted to know was where Mr. Gold was going to eat while he was in San Francisco. I sat next to a dedicated festival-goer who was seeing 8 films over the weekend & was primarily interested in documentaries.

§ City of Gold
Director: Laura Gabbert
USA, 2014, 91 mins.

§ 58th San Francisco International Film Festival
April 25, 2015   6:30 p.m.   Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
April 28, 2015   9:15 p.m.   Sundance Kabuki Cinemas

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