Didactic docu "We Feed the World" is sincere but monotonous as it decries the excesses of globalized food industry. Even sympathetic viewers may find themselves casting eager glances at their watches during the ponderous progression of talking-head interviews, statistic-crammed titles and globe-hopping reportage.

Didactic docu “We Feed the World” is sincere but monotonous as it decries the excesses of globalized food industry. Even sympathetic viewers may find themselves casting eager glances at their watches during the ponderous progression of talking-head interviews, statistic-crammed titles and globe-hopping reportage. Only sporadically effective at generating a genuine sense of outrage, pic is destined to preach to the converted at niche fests, non-profit venues and fund-raising events.

Austrian helmer Erwin Wagenhofer travels to various spots from France to Brazil, noting how local farmers, fishermen and livestock growers are being driven out of business by multinational corporations. Time and again, large companies are accused of upsetting eco-balances and wasting natural resources while pursuing profits. In Brazil, for example, huge swaths of rain forest are sacrificed to enable the growing of soybeans for animal feed sold in Europe. Bakers in Vienna routinely trash enough unsold bread each day to supply Graz, Austria’s second-largest city.

Pic is particularly critical of Nestle Intl., the world’s largest food production company. Interviewees complain about the firm’s ever-increasing distribution of bio-engineered foodstuffs. In a revealing on-camera interview, however, Nestle CEO Peter Brabeck calmly rejects the notion that natural or organic food could be any tastier or healthier than the hybrids his researchers have developed. At the very end of “We Feed the World,” Brabeck sounds unnervingly like a mad-scientist visionary as he gazes at robotic devices in a Nestle factory and marvels how, someday, he will employ hardly any people.

Tech values are OK for this sort of DV-shot docu. Wagenhofer’s fondness for tediously extended montages — fishermen toil at their work, farmers till their fields, etc. — slows the pace to sluggish crawl. But long sequence detailing work of a slaughtering unit in Austrian chicken processing plant is perversely fascinating. It’s enough to put you off poultry.

We Feed The World

Austria

Production

An Allegro Filmproduktion GmbH production. Produced by Helmut Grasser. Directed by Erwin Wagenhofer.

Crew

Camera (DV, color), editor, Wagenhofer; music, Helmut Neugebauer; sound, Lisa Ganser, Helmut Junker. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Real to Reel), Sept. 9, 2005. Running time: 96 MIN. (German, French, Portuguese dialogue)
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