The documentary film “The Fruit Hunters” will be screened Thursday, Oct. 9, at the Magic Lantern Cinemas in Ketchum.
The documentary film “The Fruit Hunters,” to be screened Thursday, Oct. 9, at Magic Lantern Cinemas in Ketchum, opens a world of fruit unknown to most of us who know only what we see in our supermarket bins.
The screening at 7 p.m. is part of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts’ exhibition “Forests, Foraging and Fires,” which explores the forest as an ecosystem, a resource and a place of transformation.
This film from writer and director Yung Chang (“Up the Yangtze” and “China Heavyweight”) examines the activities of people obsessed with fruit and who scour jungles and forests to track down rare specimens and save fruits that are threatened by development and disease. “The Fruit Hunters” travels across culture, history and geography to show how intertwined we are with the fruits we eat.
The film, released in 2012 by Montreal-based Eye Steel Film, was inspired by the book “The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Obsession, Commerce and Adventure,” by Adam Leith Gollner.
Chang spent two years following fruit-obsessed horticulturalists, pomologists (botanists who study fruit) and backyard enthusiasts to places such as Bali, Indonesia, in search of white-fleshed mangoes and to Borneo for the rare kura-kura durian.
Among other stories, the film chronicles movie star Bill Pullman’s crusade to create a community orchard in the Hollywood Hills. Adventurers Noris Ledesma and Richard Campbell scour the jungle for rare mangoes, hoping to intervene before the plants are steamrolled by industrialization. Pioneering Honduran scientist Juan Aguilar races to breed bananas resistant to a deadly fungus that threatens the worldwide monoculture crop. Fruit detectives including Isabella Dalla Ragione investigate Renaissance-era paintings for clues, hoping to rediscover lost fruits.
“Once you realize there is this endless world of thousands of varieties of fruit, it’s almost as if fruit gives you a sense of hope.”
Director ‘The Fruit Hunters’
And, of course, there are the fruits themselves, presented in all their mouthwatering glory: cherimoyas, ice cream beans, durians and more.
“Once you realize there is this endless world of thousands of varieties of fruit, it’s almost as if fruit gives you a sense of hope, a sense that there’s this diversity out there,” Chang told CBC News. “I want people to get hooked, addicted to fruit. I certainly have, in making this movie.”
Chang, a Chinese-Canadian raised in Ontario, made his feature documentary “Up the Yangtze” in 2007. The film used China’s highly contested Three Gorges Dam as a dramatic backdrop for a moving and richly detailed narrative of a peasant family negotiating unprecedented historic changes. “Up The Yangtze” played at numerous festivals and was one of the top-grossing documentary box office releases in 2008. “China Heavyweight” is a documentary on teenagers in rural southwestern China who are recruited as their country’s next Olympic hopefuls.
The Sun Valley Center’s curator of visual arts, Courtney Gilbert, said the programs that are part of the “Forests, Foraging and Fires” exhibition “offer tremendous opportunities for considering our human relationship to the forest from a variety of different viewpoints—what do we take from the forest, how do we manage it, how should we care for it?”
The exhibition runs through Nov. 12.
Tickets for “The Fruit Hunters” are $10 for Center members, $12 for nonmembers. People can purchase tickets in advance at www.sunvalleycenter.org, or call 726-9491 or buy them at the Magic Lantern the evening of the screening.