What if food waste could feed the hungry?
That’s the question posed in the new trailer for “Theater of Life,” exclusive to Variety.
The documentary follows chef Massimo Bottura, whose Osteria Francescana was named world’s best restaurant in 2016 and featured on Netflix’s “Chef’s Table,” as he embarks on an ambitious project. But instead of elites and gourmands, he’s serving refugees, recovering drug addicts, former sex workers, the homeless and the hungry.
Bottura created the soup kitchen featured in the doc, dubbed the Refettorio Ambrosiano, during Expo Milano 2015. Hundreds of pounds of uneaten food from the expo were saved from the waste bins, and a rotating lineup of 60 top international chefs, including Mario Batali, Ferran Adria and Alain Ducasse, crafted gourmet meals nightly from the scraps.
The title, “Theater of Life,” comes from the name of the venue — an abandoned theater in the working class neighborhood of Greco in Milan. The stage was turned into a kitchen and the auditorium into a dining room. Director Peter Svatek chronicled the chefs and those who were fed for the film.
“Most who ate at the Refettorio had never heard of any of the famous chefs. Would they care? Would it mean anything more than any free soup-kitchen meal?,” Svatek asks. “But the philosophy of the Refettorio was different from that of most soup kitchens. There were no lineups. Food was served restaurant-style by volunteers. The place was beautiful, decorated by Italy’s finest artists and artisans. It became a homelike environment. The same guests returned every day. Relationships were formed. So the question arises: What is ‘home’ for a homeless person or a political refugee?”
Watch the trailer below.
“Theater of Life” will have its world premiere at the San Sebastian Film Festival on September 17. The Canadian premiere is scheduled for September 19 at the Atlantic Film Festival.
Bottura opened another Refettorio Ambrosiano in Rio during the recent Olympics. He’s also planning on opening one in the Bronx in New York in 2017, in collaboration with Robert De Niro.
Bottura hopes both foodies and film lovers will walk away both greater compassion and understanding the environmental impact of food waste.