Dan Goldberg and Ronnie Kahn: Food For Thought

June 10, 2018
With the release of Foodfighter, we chatted with the filmmaker along with its subject, about their experience of making the impact documentary.

When dealing with an issue that is costing the Australian Government millions of dollars every year, how do you make it interesting? You put a face on the issue!

“It was a huge challenge,” Foodfighter director Dan Goldberg told us. “I went to [OzHarvest’s] Ronnie Kahn in 2014. I knew she had access to the world of homelessness. I wanted to get access into that world for a documentary I was pitching, and it could have been a few days, a few weeks, a few months, you find yourself doing the dishes, or in the shower or doing the gardening, and the penny dropped, and the lightbulb sparked… ‘What the hell am I doing here? I’ve got Ronnie Kahn’.”

Ronnie replied: ‘I’ll only do it on one condition’. “She said that ‘it’s not about me, it’s about the issue’.”

“My thinking was, if it puts food waste on the agenda, and consumers understand what they can do, because each and every one of us can do something, then I’ll make this film,” Ronnie Kahn tells us today.

“At the time, I didn’t really know her very well,” Goldberg adds. “So, I said, ‘of course it’s going to be about the issue, it will be a character piece also, but of course it’s about the issue’. But I didn’t know, for example, at that time, about her backstory in Africa, or the Eureka moment in Soweto, and, you know, her daughter in-law….

“In many ways, I discovered in South Africa that the film is also a road to redemption,” Goldberg added. “Ronnie’s guilt of leaving Apartheid actually plays into her establishment of South Africa Harvest, and so I wanted to show that. It became about Ronnie, her powerful story.”

Asked what inspired him to complete the film, Goldberg says it was Kahn.

“You’ve got a great protagonist and a great subject, which isn’t like climate change, because with that we all feel helpless, and food waste, an individual can actually make a difference. It’s a good subject everyone can relate to. Food is huge because of the MasterChef generation, every country has food shows, and chefs, they’re celebrities these days, so making a modern documentary about food waste in Australia is relatable.”

Of the ultimate impact the documentary will have, the filmmaker said the aim is to start a conversation on waste.

“(Obviously), I hope it entertains and inspires. I think there are two outcomes. One is for everyday people like you and me, we can actually go home and change overnight… When I saw Ronnie’s compost bin, I went out and got one and, basically I have very little in my bin. All of my food gets composted. Everybody can change literally overnight.

“The second thing is for people who are on a much bigger journey, can use Ronnie as an example of somebody who literally had an epiphany and decided, ‘why am I in the capitalist rat race, when I could be a social activist’, and there might be one or two people who watch the film and get inspired to change their life.”

Kahn says she wants to raise awareness globally. “I think we’ve forgotten that if you throw a banana away, there’s more to it than just losing 60 cents or $1.

“I think we’re not connected to the fact that a farmer grew it, watered the plant, used energy, used fuel, used labour, and it took X amount of months to grow that piece. We’ve lost that connection. And we think, we are at worst throwing away 60 cents. But what we don’t realise is that the research shows that most households are wasting upwards of $3,000 a year, around $195 a week on food that we throw out.

“I’m hoping that: look, buy, store, cook, becomes the new mantra,” added Kahn. “Because if we look what’s in our cabinet, and in our fridge, if we buy what we need, and eat what we buy, if we store what we buy properly, and if we cook it and eat it and use leftovers, then we will go a long way to minimising food waste. That is the positive that has come out of this. We have a new direct to consumer campaign on waste, we’re trying to grow this movement. We want 500,000 people to sign up when this campaign. People can sign up today, that’s our goal.”

Foodfighter is now in cinemas.


More on Kahn’s campaign can be found on http://fightfoodwaste.org

For more on OzHarvest: https://www.ozharvest.org/

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