>>> Theater Of Life serves up food for the soul

Doc focuses on a high-end soup kitchen that uses surplus food from other eateries to feed the dispossessed


THEATER OF LIFE (Peter Svatek) 94 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Saturday (December 3). See listing. Rating: NNNN


The opening-night gala at October’s Planet In Focus festival, Theater Of Life follows Italian restaurateur Massimo Bottura at the 2015 Milan World’s Fair as he establishes the Refettorio Ambrosiano, a high-end soup kitchen that repurposed surplus food from the event’s other eateries into meals for the dispossessed.

As filmmaker Peter Svatek shows us, the Refettorio wasn’t a publicity stunt, but a real investment of craft, skill and time. We see the practical challenges Bottura and his associates must work through – how can they incorporate stale ingredients into a dish people will enjoy? – as well as the restaurant’s very real impact on the people it served.

This is an involving process documentary that’s also a deeply satisfying story of kindness – which suits the holiday season nicely. It’s only playing a handful of screenings at the Hot Docs Cinema, so catch it while you can.

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