You’ll never think of fruit the same way

This newPlantsandFlowers site does not include editorials (yet). Nevertheless I want to share my personal thoughts about the documentary The Fruit Hunters from Chinese/Canadian director Yung Chang. It’s a must-see for many professionals in the ornamental plant industry. “After seeing this documentary you’ll never think of fruit the same way”, wrote the organizer of Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival in Canada where the movie premiered last week. Almost at the same time visitors of the International Documentary Film Festival (IDFA) in Amsterdam could see The Fruit Hunters. I saw the second screening in the Netherlands.
Yung Chang filmed the obsession of men and women to find un-known fruits all over the world, to safeguard old and almost forgotten fruit varieties and to let ordinary people taste fruit again like fruit should taste. The way he portrayed all kinds of fruits and how people enjoyed eating these fruits, is phenomenal.
Flowers in stead of fruit
During the screening I tried so often to replace the word ‘fruit’ by the word ‘flower’ or even better by ‘plant’. Better public relations the ornamental industry hardly can imagine. Just try to imagine the lyrical reviews in the press and journalists writing: “After seeing this documentary you’ll never think of ornamental plants the same way.”
The ornamental plant industry has its plant hunter stories. There are books about plant hunting, even exhibitions in museums. But do these stories change the way ordinary people think about flowers? It is one of the many questions I puzzled with in the cinema. Is such a documentary a tool to achieve that people think differently, even more positive about plants and flowers? Would an artist like Yung Chang want to repeat himself and make The Plant Hunters documentary?
Who knows..
Actually I asked him personally after the screening. It was clear that he was hit by the obsession of the fruit hunters he had filmed. He admitted that he became a kind of fruit hunter himself. That there is a world of plant hunters triggered him. So, who knows… The right script might challenge him.
By the way, like all other artistic minds Chang certainly will follow his own trail. I am thinking about the way he filmed the fruit in supermarkets. Fruit bred for the convenience of the retailers, bred to have a transportability of months, bred to have a long shelf life and bred to look good and uniform. He compared the nowadays apples as Elstar and Jonagold with the ‘much much better tasting’ Cox Orange. Here I exchanged the word ‘apple’ with ‘rose’. Aren’t roses bred for long transportability, long shelf life, long vase life and a maximum of uniformity while everybody forgot the fragrance? This is no accusation, no negative comment. It’s just one of these thoughts popping up when seeing The Fruit Hunters. Therefor, it really is worthwhile to see this documentary.
Guus Wijchman