On September 28, 2020 NYWIFT along with IFC Films hosted a conversation with Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles Director, Laura Gabbert, following a screening of the film. This conversation was moderated by Co-Founder and Head of Programming at In Creative Company, Mara Webster.
About the Film
In the summer of 2018, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art enlists Yotam Ottolenghi, the London-based Israeli chef and celebrated author of cookbooks Jerusalem and Plenty, to organize a food gala inspired by the Met exhibit “Visitors to Versailles.” In preparation for the event, Ottolenghi travels to the Palace of Versailles.
At the landmark French site, the famed chef is possessed by a child-like curiosity, as he finds in Versailles a glimpse into the French Monarchy’s decadence. And so Ottolenghi, with the help of pastry chefs (including “Cronut” maestro Dominique Ansel), positions The Met event as both an expression and critique of excess. Several centuries ago in Versailles, the royal family lived in public to help broadcast the country’s splendor and wealth. Ottolenghi fast-forwards to the advent of social media and finds a new aristocracy streaming their riches, food, and prosperity. In both eras, we see deep exclusion, longing for community, a patriarchal structure – and the same potential for revolution.
Documentary director Laura Gabbert’s critically acclaimed films deploy full measures of humor and drama to unflinchingly put a human face on a range of social and cultural issues. No Impact Man (Sundance ’09), which the LA Times called “terrifically entertaining, compelling and extremely funny,” played theatrically in over 30 cities. Her previous film Sunset Story (PBS) won prizes at Tribeca and LAFF. About it, the New York Times wrote, “Sunset Story may break your heart, but it will also make your day.” Gabbert directed the feature film City of Gold (Sundance 2015) about Pulitzer Prize winning food writer Jonathan Gold. The film played theatrically in over 50 markets.
Mara Webster (moderator) is a programmer, producer, content curator, moderator and interviewer. She is the Co-Founder and Head of Programming for In Creative Company, a year round digital talk series focusing on in depth craft driven discussions around the creative process across film, television, theater and the arts. Prior to this her most recent role was programming, producing and moderating screenings and talks at SAG-AFTRA Foundation both in person and online. She has also moderated numerous panels for other companies including Netflix, AppleTV+, HBO, IFC Films, BAFTA and numerous film festival Q&A’s. In her time as Director of Panels & Special Events and an Associate Programmer at Tribeca Film Festival she grew the talks program creating new strands of programming in film, tv, theater, VR and music and produced the inaugural TIME’S UP conference. At Tribeca she was involved in programming feature films and tv where she helped to launch television into both the festivals main slate and contributed to the creation of the Tribeca TV Festival. She has worked in key roles with numerous events including Vulture Festival, Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival, Nantucket Film Festival and Sundance. She currently consults as an Associate Programmer in Features & Episodic for Sundance and for The New York Times events team. Born and raised in England by a Texan and a Scot, she now calls New York home!
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