Community·DEVOUR! 9.5

Devour! The Food Film Fest celebrates 10 years Oct. 21-25

This year marks the 10th instalment of the Devour! The Food Film Fest, coined Devour! 9.5 to reflect travel restrictions and smaller in-person gatherings, during the five-day event, October 21-25.

Virtual/in-person lineup includes opening at the Valley Drive-in, Mi'kmaq traditions and more than 44 films

Mi'kmaq culture, history and food traditions will be front and centre at the Beyond Terroir event as part of Devour! The Food Film Fest on Oct. 23 at Benjamin Bridge winery. (Courtesy of Devour! The Food Film Fest)
Devour! The Food Film Fest is proving that hybrid is just as mouth-watering as the original with an in-person and digital festival combo.

This year marks the 10th instalment of the festival, coined Devour! 9.5, to reflect travel restrictions and smaller in-person gatherings, during the five-day event, October 21-25.

Devour! 9.5 will serve up 44 films through a combination of in-person and digital screenings including 19 feature-length films and 25 shorts.

Phil Rosenthal, of the Emmy-nominated unscripted documentary series Somebody Feed Phil, will be joining the Devour! The Food Film Fest virtually this year. (Courtesy Devour! The Food Film Fest)
This includes the Opening Gala film and Disney classic, Ratatouille, taking place in-person at the Valley Drive In Theatre, and curated by the 2020 festival headliner, Phil Rosenthal (of the Emmy- nominated Netflix series Somebody Feed Phil) who will be joining virtually for a post-film Q&A and interview with long-time friend of the festival and host, Bob Blumer.


We asked Executive Director Michael Howell and Managing Director Lia Rinaldo to weigh in on a few topics:

With a re-imagining of the Festival, Devour 9.5, during a year like no other, what was your greatest challenge going from screen to stream to a virtual festival, while trying to maintain some "hybrid" in-person, personally distanced events?

"Figuring out what would be possible given a major global pandemic is all new to us, new to ALL of us, in fact."

"Through the spring and summer, we watched global festival giants fall, spent endless hours researching and on Zoom calls with festival colleagues and partners with no clear answers, just trying to figure out what we could do as a bricks and mortar festival and a true destination event."

"The greatest challenge was to not just pivot and plan, but to be prepared to have to pivot again on short notice,  not knowing what the physical environment will actually be like at festival time, after months of planning."

What are some stand-out films that will stick with audiences long after the festival?

Toxic Puzzle — about the globally pervasive and potentially VERY dangerous blue-green algae blooms, that were even identified here in Nova Scotia this summer

The Forum — A spectacular inside (for the first time ever) look at the World Economic Forum and the players making decisions on behalf (or perhaps, in spite of) the global populace.

Forgotten Flowers — Canadian film starring French actor Roy Dupuis — a visual fantasy exploring meat, GMOS, industrial agriculture and love.

The Truffle Hunters — The magic, mystery and mayhem behind-the-scenes of one of the world's most elusive foods and the dogs and personalities therein — with the recent discovery of truffles in New Brunswick, we may find that they are all over Canada and create a new hunter-gatherer culture

What is the best kept secret at this year's festival? Perhaps it's that one film, that one chef, an organizational triumph, that made YOU, or you believe will make audiences go "WOW"? That Wow Factor?

The Mayors' Bike Ride is a thrill, a great way to see the backroads of the Annapolis Valley and get behind-the-scenes at Camp Aldershot, as the Armed forces become involved in Devour!

Pai Toronto owner, Food Network Judge and Devour! favourite Chef Nuit Regular demonstrates a delicious, yet surprisingly simple Thai recipe directly from her new cookbook Kiin: Recipes and Stories from Northern Thailand on Sunday, Oct. 25 at 11 a.m. (Courtesy Devour! The Food Film Fest)
Chef Nuit Regular is doing an extraordinary Pad Thai workshop virtually, joined by our pal Ali Hassan, very familiar to CBC listeners as the host of Laugh out Loud and hosting many national CBC radio shows. It will be tasty, funny and you can cook along at home with the recipe.

Is there an unsung hero of Devour! already emerging even before the fest opens (a film / guest / chef / program already creating a buzz perhaps)?

"Our Culinary coordinator Jason Lynch (Executive Chef - Le Caveau) is our hero. He makes all the food aspects of Devour! appear magically, flawlessly and unbelievably flavourful."

"And Bob Blumer, who even from Los Angeles is throwing himself in full throttle hosting Phil Rosenthal, doing filmmaker Q&As and cooking with Jason Priestley virtually."

Can you explain a bit about the excitement around the Opening Night Gala at the Valley Drive-In?

"Being able to work with the Valley Drive-In, operated by the regional Lions Club, is yet another way for Devour! to help build community and attract a different audience to our festival. It's not all about celeb chefs and fancy dinners, it's about fun for all. Phil and Bob Blumer are going to be streaming in from Los Angeles, so it should make for a very cool evening. 

"And, we will be announcing this year's winner of the Nourish Nova Scotia Film Challenge for Youth."

Chief Sidney Peters of the Glooscap First Nation addresses guests at the 2019 Beyond Terroir event at Devour! The Food Film Fest. (Courtesy of Devour! The Food Film Fest)


The desire to engage the Indigenous community in the Devour! The Food Film Fest has long been part of the festival's plans.

One of the most popular events is Beyond Terroir. It was borne out of the desire for the festival to combine the vibrant Mi'kmaq history, culture and food traditions through a partnership with the Glooscap First Nation and Benjamin Bridge winery. 

Festival guests attending Beyond Terroir visit outdoor fire pit stations, where culinary collaborations between the Mi'kmaq community and chefs Jason Lynch and Stéphane Levac take place on the grounds of Benjamin Bridge Vineyards in Gaspereau Valley. (Courtesy Devour! The Food Film Fest)
"Two years ago when Benjamin Bridge worked with us to plan an outdoor event that showcased Devour!, Benjamin Bridge and First Nations culture, they (Benjamin Bridge) conceived of the idea and laid the ground work," explains Michael Howell, executive director of Devour!

"It's the vision of Benjamin Bridge and their team that we have simply helped facilitate bringing it to life."

Lia Rinaldo, Devour's managing director, admits when people saw it two years ago they said, "It was the best event we ever hosted."

Since time immemorial, the Mi'kmaq have harvested, foraged, gathered, hunted, prepared, and consumed food on their traditional territory of Mi'kma'ki, which includes Nova Scotia. 

In search of the deepest roots of the Gaspereau Valley, Benjamin Bridge invites guests to its vineyards to learn about terroir beyond the contemporary definition of soil and climate. 

In partnership with Glooscap First Nation, this unique walking workshop includes Mi'kmaq leadership, cultural representatives, and allies speaking on an array of themes at outdoor fire pit stations, where culinary collaborations between the Mi'kmaq community and chefs Jason Lynch and Stéphane Levac are paired with wine and other drinks.

Tune in to CBC's Mainstreet (Nova Scotia) with host Jeff Douglas to learn more about Beyond Terroir and Devour! The Food Film Fest.

There are two Beyond Terroirs taking place during the festival:  Friday, October 23 from 3-5 p.m. and Saturday, October 24 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Benjamin Bridge in the Gaspereau Valley.