ARZAK Since 1897, the documentary by Asier Altuna about the restaurant run by Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena, will open the Culinary Zinema section at the San Sebastian Festival’s 68th edition. The other 3 films in the section include Camí lliure / Free Way (Vía libre), by Ángel Parra, which also has a strong family component and shows the relationship between chefs Raül Balam and his mother Carme Ruscalleda, while La receta del equilibrio, by Óscar Bernàcer, places the chef Ricard Camarena before the challenge of opening his premises after the lockdown. Lastly, The Truffle Hunters, by Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw, brings a portrait of several elderly people and their search for the coveted white truffle in Italy’s Piedmont region.
ARZAK Since 1897, Camí lliure / Free Way (Vía libre) and La receta del equilibrio will screen in San Sebastian as world premieres, while The Truffle Hunters will be an international premiere.
Asier Altuna (Bergara, Gipuzkoa, 1969) returns to the Festival after participating in sections such as the Official Selection, where he competed with Amama (Irizar Award, 2015), having screened Bertsolari (2011) out of competition, and participated in New Directors and the Basque Cinema Gala, where he respectively presented Aupa Etxebeste! (Youth Award, 2005) and Agur Etxebeste! (2019), both co-directed with Telmo Esnal. In ARZAK Since 1897, which participated in the Lau Haizetara Documentary Co-production Forum in 2018, he analyses the transform of traditional cookery into the new cuisine d’auteur through the Restaurante Arzak. Juan Mari and his daughter Elena, who has been running the business for some time now, are the leading characters in a film also featuring the appearance of colleagues including Ferran Adrià, Pedro Subijana, Joan Roca, Karlos Arguiñano, Andoni Luis Aduriz and Dabiz Muñoz, among others.
For his part, Ángel Parra (Madrid, 1978) gets to grips in Camí lliure / Free Way (Vía libre) with the story of how Catalan chef Raül Balam overcame the odds, and how, having beaten his drug addiction, he had the opportunity to run the prestigious restaurant of his mother, Carme Ruscalleda, but rejected the offer to follow his own path. With different responsibilities as a director and producer with TVE, Ángel Parra already approached foodie films in Soul (2017), a documentary about chefs Eneko Atxa and Jiro Ono.
Author of different fictional and non-fictional works, Óscar Bernàcer (Palma de Mallorca, Spain, 1978) has already collaborated with Ricard Camarena over three seasons of the documentary series Cuineres i cuiners. Now, in La receta del equilibrio, he once again works with the Valencian chef, portrayed as he sets about the difficult task of reopening his restaurants after the lockdown while the local vegetable garden, heedless of the pandemic, continues its natural cycle of growth.
Having co-directed their first feature films, The Last Race (2018), Michael Dweck (Brooklyn, New York) and Gregory Kershaw (Utica, New York) join forces once again on The Truffle Hunters, which had its premiere at Sundance Festival and is part of the official selection for Cannes 2020, cancelled due to Covid-19. The film follows a handful of men in their seventies and eighties who, accompanied by their dogs, search the forests of Italy’s Piedmont region for the rare and coveted Alba white truffle.
The four titles in the section will be accompanied by themed dinners, to take place from September 21-24 at the Basque Culinary Center.
ARZAK SINCE 1897
ASIER ALTUNA (SPAIN)
OPENING NIGHT FILM
When Juan Mari told his mother he wanted to study catering and continue in the tradition of the family business, she tried to convince him to choose a career offering a better future. Sixty years later, the social prestige enjoyed by gastronomy is enormous, the change has been revolutionary and today many children encouraged by their parents dream of becoming great chefs. Juan Mari has lived this evolution in first person and has been a fundamental part of it. Arzak, the family eatery situated at the top of San Sebastian’s Alto de Miracruz, has become one of the world’s best restaurants. Today, the new generation has taken up the baton. Elena Arzak, Juan Mari’s daughter, now runs the restaurant and her father is gradually retiring. The time has come to look back, to take stock of a whole life; to analyse the transformation of traditional cuisine into the new cuisine d’auteur.
CAMÍ LLIURE / FREE WAY
ANGEL PARRA (SPAIN)
Camí Lliure (Free Way) is a film that goes deep into the mind, heart and creativity of chef Raül Balam. Achieving excellence in the competitive culinary world is a task that requires hard work, which is no problem for him, because that example has always been present in his mother, Carme Ruscalleda. For several years, Raül was immersed in the world of drug addiction, which meant he was unable to be a rational person who liked to enjoy life. It also prevented him from growing more professionally. Nevertheless, he finally succeeded in standing up and being the person that he is today, the real Raül. His family is a fundamental pillar and now he sets himself increasingly higher challenges in which he combines his passion for cooking with the extravagant daily activities he publishes on Instagram. This documentary shows part of his journey since the closure of Sant Pau, his mother’s 3-star restaurant.
LA RECETA DEL EQUILIBRIO
ÓSCAR BERNÀCER (SPAIN)
Ricard Camarena bases his cuisine on Valencia’s local vegetable production. His constant search for harmony between flavours has seduced the critics and crossed borders. Alongside Mari Carmen Bañuls, the brain behind the management of their restaurants, the two form an indissoluble team which have overcome great adversity to achieve success, vouched for by two Michelin stars and the recent National Gastronomy Prize. The couple are enjoying their most balanced moment. Balanced? The Covid-19 outbreak has thrown them up against a hitherto unheard-of challenge: to reopen their restaurants with the uncertainty of the “new normal”. Heedless of the pandemic, the vegetable garden continues its natural growth cycle and offers the chef a new horizon of flavours.
THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS
MICHAEL DWECK, GREGORY KERSHAW (USA – ITALY – GREECE)
Deep in the forests of Northern Italy resides the prized white Alba truffle. Desired by the wealthiest patrons in the world, it remains a pungent but rarified mystery. It cannot be cultivated or found, even by the most resourceful of modern excavators. The only souls on Earth who know how to dig it up are a tiny circle of canines and their silver-haired human companions, Italian elders with walking sticks and devilish senses of humor who only scour for the truffle at night so as not to leave any clues for others. Still, this small enclave of hunters induces a feverish buying market that spans the globe.