John Webster: Recipes for Disaster

This film is funny, clever and makes you think. If it makes you (=me) change lifestyle, is another question. Could be, let’s see.

The synopsis of the film taken from the website: Director JW convinces his wife and two small boys that the whole family should go on an oil diet, yet without having to give up their middle class suburban lifestyle. All the everyday things that we don’t do, or that we can’t help doing, make up recipes for disaster. In this comedy of errors they find themselves questioning their values and putting to test their will power and ultimately, their happiness.

Happiness, yes, because the film – which is basically a message film produced to point at the climate change and how we might contribute to this and consequently how we should behave in our daily life – is constructed brilliantly around the increasing conflict between man and woman, husband and wife who have taken the decision to do something during a period of one year. In the beginning Anu, the wife, teases John, the filmmaker, but slowly the wonderful film character Anu expresses her disagreement with the behaviour of – as she says – the ”bossy” husband, who wants to send a message to the world and just make a good film. The boys are on her side blaiming him that his video is also plastic. Right! I am let out, she says, as he progresses fanatically with his ideas and wants to create a delivery service for plant oil based diesel for cars (if I got it right) and insists that all plastic cups and other kitchen things should go… It went well with getting rid of their own car, with going to the island without using the motor of the boat, with taking train instead of airplane, buying non-plastic wrapped goods in the shop and so on. But drama got into the home and this nice Finnish/English family that made a final result to be jealous of.

The film is already ”sold” to many tv stations before production, the others should buy it now and get it on prime time, it is for all of us – and the festivals will have an example of a subject born film with a lot of information to be conveyed – that also has originality and joyful storytelling skills.

John Webster: Recipes for Disaster, Finland, 2007, 83/65 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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