In Review: The Fruit Hunters

Director of photography Mark Ellam and re-creations line producer Kieran Crilly with the model of the Hollywood Orchard at the National Film Board in Montreal. Photo by Brandon Blommaert.

The Fruit Hunters
Yung Chang, director and co-script w/Mark Slutsky
Inspired by the book by Adam Goliner
Feature documentary w/Bill Pullman, Juan Aguilar, Noris Ledesma, Richard Campbell, Isabella Dalla Ragione

Reviewed by Marc Glassman

Shot in ravishing colours with superb animation sequences, The Fruit Hunters is a film of sensuality and desire. Yet no one takes their clothes off–they simply eat fruit. But what fruit! Not the bland “globalised” product that one purchases at local grocery stores. Yung takes us to Borneo, Hawaii, the Hollywood Hills, Bali and other exotic locales to sample (as Montreal’s Rencontres film catalogue eloquently puts it) “creamy cherimoyas, delicate cloudberries, orange coloured peanut-butter fruit“–to cite only three examples of many in the film.

Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze, China Heavyweight) found several fruit hunters to take him, and now the audience, on his delightful journey of learning. The big surprise is Bill Pullman, the veteran character actor, who turns into a community activist in his endeavour to create a fruit-growing co-op underneath the famous Hollywood sign.

But there are other hunters. Yung and Pullman go to Hawaii to find an ex-journalist who turned his life around when he encountered the sweet life—and fruit—of the islands. Elsewhere, Yung find an former gun-toting radical, who now realises that great change can be effected by eating better. Finally, Yung ends up in the tropical paradise, Borneo, where an ancient climate has kept alive fruit from a prehistoric age.

But all is not beautiful in Borneo or in the Hollywood hills. Pullman, like many a community leader is defeated by avaricious landowners. Borneo is under threat from loggers and other believers in “progress.”

Still, this is less a cautionary tale than it is a celebration of what remains: great and glorious fruit. The Fruit Hunters is a genuinely beautiful film. Let’s hope that it turns into the one of the best “date movies” of the winter holiday season.

The Fruit Hunters premieres at The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema on Friday, November 23. Director Yung Chang will be available for a Skype Q&A at the Saturday, November 24 screening. Producer Mark Slutsky and author Adam Gollner will be in attendance for a post-screening discussion at the Friday, November 23, and Saturday, November 24 screenings.

Still hungry? Read Matthew Hays’ behind-the-scenes profile of The Fruit Hunters here.

The Fruit Hunters – Official Trailer : in theaters November 23, 2012 from EyeSteelFilm on Vimeo.