Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular holidays for eating out, as restaurants do everything to woo couples, with specials promising oysters, Champagne, chocolate and all other manner of edible luxury.
So it’s somewhat daring for the folks behind “A Place at the Table,” a documentary about food insecurity in the United States, to host a screening on a night when most of the film’s intended audience would otherwise be shelling out a lot of dough for over-the-top romantic meals. The film, though it addresses a tough subject, is no dour downer. It comes with a top-shelf pedigree: “Top Chef” judge Tom Colicchio and Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges appear in the film, Grammy winners T-Bone Burnett and the Civil Wars provide the music, and Rep. Jim McGovern, co-chairman of the Congressional Hunger Caucus, helps guide the narrative through its Capitol Hill settings. Directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush, along with Colicchio and McGovern, will be present for a panel discussion after the 6:30 p.m. screening Thursday at E Street Cinema (555 11th St. NW).
These people, and many other experts on food policy, public health and nutrition, lend the film its credibility. But the people the filmmakers profile — those who are hungry and those on the ground hoping to help them — are the ones who give the film its heart.
It’s one thing to hear from an expert that 1 in 6 Americans is uncertain about whether there’s enough food for the family. It’s another to hear directly from Barbie Izquierdo of North Philadelphia that she was kicked off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program because she took a full-time job and now doesn’t know how she’s going to feed her two kids and herself.
That has a way of putting the Valentine’s tasting menu in perspective.