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Chew and view at Chicago Food Film Festival


Are you ready for a new food adventure- George Motz hopes so.

Motz is a co-founder of the New York City Food Film Festival, a wildly popular 4-year-old event that pairs films with the food featured within for a multi-sensory experience.

Now the event is migrating to Chicago. Motz was looking to expand and says Chicago was "the obvious next step."

"The reason is simply because it's such a great food city," Motz said. "It stood out over any other city out there."

The festival is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 24 and 25 at the MCA Warehouse, 1747 W. Hubbard. The first night will feature six short films and accompanying food (cheese curds and other fried foods, a vegetable dish, oysters, ice cream and exotic soda pop).

The second evening - a burger and beer experience curated by chef Michael Kornick and his DMK Burger Bar - features three topical films and three of DMK's fancy burgers.

Kornick was eager to participate.

"I like the idea of combining the two art forms in a public space," Kornick said. "Food and its roll in film is often very inspiring not only for cooks but for everyone who enjoys celebrations around the table."

DMK will create three of its burger recipes for the evening. Kornick also suggested the breweries - Half Acre, Metropolitan Brewing Company, Two Brothers and 3 Floyds - which will be supplying the beer.

Filmgoers will basically stuff their faces with burgers and beer and then watch the films. But on the first night, since so many films are shown, Motz says they want to "create a meal as you go" that will be served as the films unfold.

Motz is all about "enhancing the multi-sensory experience."

A perfect example of this is the film "The Perfect Oyster," to be shown on the first night. Workers from Shaw's Crab House will be on hand to shuck Fanny Bay oysters flown in from British Columbia.

"We're satisfying the urge you get when you see food in a film and want to eat it immediately," Motz said. "It's an opportunity to indulge."

The first year of the New York festival, 14 films were screened. Last year, there were 150 entries, with more than 40 screenings.

"Some people thought we wouldn't be able to find that many food-related films," Motz said. "I proved them wrong. I've become the go-to guy for all things food and film."

The films presented in Chicago are a best-of the New York festival, which is juried.

"We wanted to at least get our foot in the door and show Chicago what we can do," Motz said. "Next year it will definitely be a full film festival with a call for entries and awards."

Motz, a director of photography who works in television and commercials, got deeply interested in food after his wife suggested he make a food documentary. The result was the well-received 2005 documentary "Hamburger America," which looked at great burger joints around the country. Excerpts from the film will accompany the DMK burgers.

"I became a hamburger expert by accident," Motz said, laughing.

A friend and festival co-founder, chef Henry Hawk, convinced Motz to show the film at his restaurant; he would serve the burgers featured in the film.

"It was outside during a torrential downpour, but we still attracted 250 people," Motz recalled. "Henry and I realized we were onto something."

The sprawling MCA warehouse is the type of non-conventional space that festival organizers like. The films will be set up in two rooms; in two adjoining rooms will be a bar and food. There are no strict rules about staying in your seat.

"In a way, it's a free for all, but people understand," Motz said. "That's part of its charm."

Kornick hopes the festival catches on and becomes an annual Chicago event.

"Chicago has a great international film festival, animated film festival and gay film festival," Kornick said. "I see no reason why we can't have a great food film festival, with or without burgers next year."

Among co-founder George Motz's favorite films to be screened at the Chicago Food Film Festival is "Celeriac," a 2-minute horror film involving celery and a knife.

"The reaction of the audience is truly amazing," he said with a sly laugh, refusing to give any details. "Never watch this film by yourself; you'll be totally freaked out."

Here is a complete list of the food-related films.

Sept. 24: Edible Adventure #002: Savory & Sweet

"Eat Your Fill": A man fulfills his mission of eating every food item at the Wisconsin State Fair that is either deep-fried or on a stick. Directed by Mark Irving.

"Mr. Okra": Portrait of a man who sells produce from his rolling farmstand in New Orleans. Directed by T.G. Herrington.

"Celeriac": Prepare to be terrorized by this thriller about a stalk of celery and a knife. Directed by John D. Reilly.

"The Perfect Oyster": Oyster lover Brent Petkau waxes poetic about his favorite food. Directed by Craig Noble.

"The Death & Life of Ice Cream": A trippy time-lapse of melting ice cream. Directed by Orrin Zucker.

"Obsessives: Soda Pop": An introduction to John Nese, the owner of Galco's Soda Pop Stop in Los Angeles, and his obsession with independent soda makers. Directed by Meredith Arthur and Eric Slatkin.

Sept. 25: The Chicago Burger ‘n Beer Experience

"Beer Wars": A look at corporate American beer makers and the small independent brewers struggling in their wake. Directed by Anat Baron.

"The Best of Hamburger America": An abbreviated version of George Motz's film that travels the country looking for great burgers.

"Cud": A profile of Will Harris, a fifth-generation farmer who is raising grass-fed cattle. Directed by Joe York.

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