This visually startling window on the world of industrial food production in Europe is an ambiguous ode to the staggering efficiency of modern harvesting – as well as a substantiation of Western gluttony.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2006
“Welcome to the world of industrial food production and high-tech farming!” announce the filmmakers in their promotional material for Our Daily Bread. It’s appropriate to feel nonplussed by that cheerful exclamation mark. Without a single line of commentary, they leave us to make what we will of the awesome machinery of mass food production. From their meticulous sound design, and 35mm cinematography so pristine you can practically see your reflection in the stainless-steel abattoir walls, it’s clear that they can’t be totally opposed to technology per se. Then there are the surreal portraits of docile factory workers – one guy spends all day collecting semen from rutting bulls; another woman sits chewing gum, her expression serene, while snipping the trotters off an endless queue of slaughtered pigs. The film is at once an ode to the staggering efficiency of modern harvesting and an overwhelming substantiation of Western gluttony. This is what it takes to feed rich and fattened Europe, with its boundless appetite for bacon and tomatoes, prime eye fillet steak and olives. — BG