Food on Film

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Food is a fundamental to our survival, and it has been celebrated, criticised, and analysed on the big screen in ways that can make the audience's mouths water or, equally, turn their stomachs.

This film list explores the impact of food, its cultural importance and the ways it can bring people together to mark special events, as well as how its scarcity affects whole communities and can bring out the best and worst in people. The type of food that we eat is also a subject for the camera with the ethics of the fast food industry coming under scrutiny, and the hidden dangers of certain types of diets.   

Ratatouille

CertU

Age groupAll ages

Duration106 mins

Ratatouille(2007)

Animation in which natural chef Remi tries to get a start in the restaurant business, getting someone else to cover for the fact that he's a rat.

The power of teamwork to succeed in a competitive restaurant is celebrated in this animation in which the tastiest treats are prepared by a talented creature you wouldn’t normally allow anywhere near your kitchen!

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Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration86 mins

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs(2009)

Flint Lockwood is an inventor who creates a machine that can turn water into food but something goes wrong and the machine ends up in the sky.

The dangerous temptation of being able to get whatever food you want, whenever you want it is explored in this adventure where budding inventor Flint finds a way to feed his entire town, dependent on the weather – resulting in delicious storms and expanding waistlines!

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Kaaka Muttai (The Crow's Egg)

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration91 mins

Kaaka Muttai (The Crow's Egg)(2014)

Tamil children’s film about two boys desperate to earn enough money to get a slice of pizza from the new pizza shop.

When a pizza shop opens on the outskirts of their slum, two boys are desperate to try this never-before-tasted treat. However, they are unable to afford the high price of this foreign delicacy, so their grandmother tries in vain to appease their appetite with a homemade version.

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Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

CertU

Age groupAll ages

Duration95 mins

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory(1971)

Visually brilliant 1971 Roald Dahl adaptation about a little boy who wins a tour of the maddest sweet factory in the world!

The allure of treats to a boy who can only afford chocolate once a year for his birthday makes this visit to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory an unbelievable experience.

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Oliver!

CertU

Age group5–14

Duration139 mins

Oliver!(1968)

Musical version of the famous Charles Dickens novel about the adventures of a Victorian orphan who falls in with a London street gang.

This musical take on Oliver Twist explores the difficulty of earning a crust as an orphan on the mean streets of London, and features the unforgettable ‘Food, Glorious Food’ sequence.

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The Princess and the Frog

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration95 mins

The Princess and the Frog(2009)

Tiana is a feisty young woman with big dreams in Disney's New Orleans-set re-telling of the classic fairy tale.

Tiana works hard to achieve her dreams of opening her very own restaurant, sharing her beloved father’s recipes – especially his gumbo soup - with the town. Harnessing the special memories of traditional recipes and their cultural importance, this New Orleans – flavoured take on a fairy tale is magical and evocative.

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The Boxtrolls

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration92 mins

The Boxtrolls(2014)

Charming stop-motion animated fable from the makers of Coraline, based on Alan Snow's children's novel Here Be Monsters.

In the town of Cheesebridge, only the elite White Hats are permitted to indulge in cheese (a symbol of wealth and power denied to ordinary townspeople), and Boxtroll-hunter Snatcher will stop at nothing to get a taste.

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Ernest and Celestine

CertU

Age group5–11

Duration77 mins

Ernest and Celestine(2012)

A beautiful animation about an unlikely friendship between a big clown bear and a clever orphan mouse, from the makers of A Town Called Panic!

In this charming animation, a mouse makes friends with a bear, despite having been warned that bears will eat anything and are especially fond of mice – and in persuading the hungry bear to divert his appetite to the local sweetshop they become firm friends.

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Kung Fu Panda 3

CertPG

Age group5–11

Duration95 mins

Kung Fu Panda 3(2016)

Po faces a dilemma when he is reunited with his real father, just as a new enemy threatens his old friends.

When Po is introduced to a community of pandas that he never knew existed, he is delighted to discover that he can finally “eat up to his full potential” and that there’s new competition when it comes to dumpling-eating capacity.

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Kaaka Muttai (The Crow's Egg)

CertPG

Age group7–14

Duration91 mins

Kaaka Muttai (The Crow's Egg)(2014)

Tamil children’s film about two boys desperate to earn enough money to get a slice of pizza from the new pizza shop.

When a pizza shop opens on the outskirts of their slum, two boys are desperate to try this never-before-tasted treat. However, they are unable to afford the high price of this foreign delicacy, so their grandmother tries in vain to appease their appetite with a homemade version.

Read more
Babettes Gæstebud (Babette's Feast)

CertU

Age group14–16

Duration102 mins

Babettes Gæstebud (Babette's Feast)(1987)

A celebrated chef goes from luxurious to humble surroundings as an uprising forces her to leave Paris and settle in a religious community.

The power of food to bring together a community is explored in this beautiful period drama. The residents of an austere religious community consider food a necessity and as a rule deny themselves the pleasures of finer cuisine, until an outsider takes it upon herself to stimulate their appetites.

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A Touch of Spice

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration103 mins

A Touch of Spice(2003)

Touching drama about a boy growing up in Turkey and spending time in his grandpa's grocery store, until political unrest means he must move to Athens.

Structured like a menu for a feast, this coming-of-age film explores the symbolic importance of spice for a young boy forced to leave the city where he grew up. The evocative scents and flavours of spices, as well as their historical significance, is explored as a means to connect with his heritage.

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The Hundred-Foot Journey

CertPG

Age group11+

Duration117 mins

The Hundred-Foot Journey(2014)

The Kadam family leaves India for France where they open a restaurant directly across the road from Madame Mallory's Michelin-starred eatery.

Fierce culinary competition emerges between an established French bistro and a newly opened Indian family restaurant, especially when old customers start to ignore the former’s Michelin stars in favour of the latter’s vibrant flavours.

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Julie and Julia

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration118 mins

Julie and Julia(2009)

Julie is attempting to cook all of Julia Child's recipes in one year, as we witness the similarity of these parallel lives, though 50 years apart.

Based on the true story of a woman with a dead-end job who set herself the challenge of cooking all of a celebrated chef’s recipes, this films explores how the very act of cooking can give purpose to someone’s life, and become a revealing form of self-expression.

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Big Night

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration104 mins

Big Night(1996)

Sumptuous foodie film about Italian brothers setting up a restaurant in 50s New Jersey.

The difficulty of staying on top in the restaurant business – especially when you strive to create perfection - is explored in this film in which a new Italian restaurant find themselves needing a gimmick to attract customers, who remain few despite the high quality of the cuisine.

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What's Cooking

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration109 mins

What's Cooking(2000)

Heartwarming film following four families- African-American, Jewish, Vietnamese and Mexican- as they prepare meals for US Thanksgiving celebrations.

The value of food for cultural cohesion is explored in this charming drama that brings together people of all backgrounds as they unite to mark Thanksgiving, each putting their own unique twist on the traditional ‘turkey day’.

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Jiro Dreams of Sushi

CertU

Age group11+

Duration79 mins

Jiro Dreams of Sushi(2011)

This fascinating, warmly human documentary is a portrait of 85-year-old Jiro Ono: who many consider to be the world's greatest sushi chef.

This documentary focuses on a chef who is truly obsessed by his art, and despite having achieved a perfect rating in Michelin stars is still entirely devoted to making his sushi even better.

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Passport To Pimlico

CertU

Age group11+

Duration81 mins

Passport To Pimlico(1949)

Charming comedy from the era of Britain's strict post-war food rationing, in which residents hatch a plan to eat all they want and keep the pubs open.

In the aftermath of the war, the country was still recovering, and so food rationing continued. Tired of their meagre portions and remembering days of plenty, a group of friends come up with a devious plan to bypass the law.

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Soylent Green

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration93 mins

Soylent Green(1973)

New York, 2022. Overcrowding and climate change mean the desperate masses must live on a near-inedible new foodstuff called Soylent.

This dystopian film shows a vision of the future where food scarcity due to environmental issues is such a problem that people’s only option is to consume a mass-produced foodstuff of mysterious origin.

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Delicatessen

Cert15

Age group14+

Duration95 mins

Delicatessen(1991)

Post-apocalyptic surreal black comedy about the landlord of an apartment building who occasional prepares a delicacy for his odd tenants.

The lengths to which people will go when food is scarce is revealed in the strange and topsy-turvy world of Delicatessen. With social conventions thrown out of the window, it’s everyone for themselves, with different sects forming to uphold the values in conflict as everyone competes for a morsel to eat.

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Super Size Me

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration99 mins

Super Size Me(2004)

Very funny, though sometimes disturbing, documentary about what happens to filmmaker Morgan Spurlock when he eats nothing but McDonalds for 30 days.

The negative effects on the body of consuming too much ‘junk food’ is investigated in this documentary that reveals the bad side of the bargain when you choose to ‘super size’ your fast-food meal.

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Fast Food Nation

Cert15

Age group16+

Duration108 mins

Fast Food Nation(2007)

Fact-based drama following the stories of various employees of huge US fast food chain Mickey's, underlining the corporation's unethical nature.

This film weaves together different storylines taken from accounts written in the exposé of the same name to create a fictionalised but nonetheless scathing vision of the way that the fast food injury operates, without shying away from some of the more grotesque and disturbing details.

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That Sugar Film

Cert12

Age group11+

Duration97 mins

That Sugar Film(2014)

A concerned filmmaker hosts an experiment on himself to understand the unhealthy effects of a high sugar diet.

This documentary challenges preconceptions about ‘healthy’ food, with the filmmaker Damon Gameau undergoing a diet experiment to reveal the effects of hidden sugars. Cultural attitudes to health as well as misleading marketing are held up for scrutiny as Damon reveals the toll this supposedly ‘healthy’ diet is taking on his body.

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