Among the many shock moments in Bong Joon-ho’s sci-fi production Snowpiercer (2013) was the revelation that the primary source of the protean blocks provided to non-elite passengers at the back of the train were bugs. And as Andreas Jonsen’s documentary Bugs depicts, it turns out bugs as food are not in fact necessarily the stuff of sci-fi.
Bugs succeeds in eliminating the “EEEWWW” from its topic and presenting insect food sources as a watchable, valid idea. Jonsen accomplishes this in a little over an hour by presenting (rather than throwing and/or preaching) ideas at a mainstream audience. Articles in science journals all begin with an abstract – an encapsulation of the findings; “abstract” is misleading, because its language must be precise, and if the science is wrong, libel is the least of the author’s or journal’s problems. Because Bugs is exceptional in presenting and demonstrating its socioeconomics and science, an abstract is a good format for describing the film.
Background: Josh Evans, Ben Reade and Roberto Flore of Denmark’s Nordic Food Lab combine science and cuisine to create edible, widely accessible food made from insects. The smart, likable geeks neither condescend nor preach. They also have a good sense of humour, for example, when presenting testers with a Nordic Food Lab “airline” meal, complete with uniforms, serving trays and corny airplane food jokes.
Methods: They travel to Australia, Africa, Mexico, and Japan sampling food sources made from insects. In these instances, a “sustainable farm” is not a Whole Foods ad slogan to alleviate rich-people guilt, but a lifeline to their large local population – and insects have always been an accepted food source.
Results: The only case of food poisoning comes from a hamburger. For industrial Western countries, using bugs as an ingredient is novel. The European Union is lessening sanctions on it; the US won’t allow it. In one effective sequence, the guys travel to a conference where their findings are ridiculed and forced to listen to millennials parrot corporate lingo.
Conclusions: Bugs succeeds in presenting and emphasising the use of insects to bolster worldwide food supplies. Evans, Reade and Flore keep things casual and user-friendly, but are serious about their work and its implications.
Bugs does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about the Tribeca Film Festival 2016 visit here.