Possible Worlds Film Festival Review: The Fruit Hunters (Canada, 2012)

The surprisingly provocative nature of fruit is explored in The Fruit Hunters adapted from Adam Gollner’s book of the same title. This tantalising documentary delves into the history and cultivation of nature’s candy and the passionate characters that search the globe for the most elusive varieties.

Through a combination of CGI effects, historical re-enactments and cultivator/preservationist narratives, director Yung Chang tackles the multifaceted topic of the humble fruit and turns it into an all-encompassing experience. From the initial morphing imagery and close-up shots of gleaming curvature of the more exotic species, it becomes clear the clever nature of fruit, it’s attractive allure an attempt to propagate itself far and wide.

This sense of eroticism threads its way through the storyline, picked up in the lustful musings of those obsessed with hunting down the most exquisite and rarest specimens to savour. Among these are renown actor Bill Pullmanchampioning for a communal orchard in the Hollywood Hills and ‘Fruit Detective’ Isabella Dalla Ragione an avid preservationist whose unconventional methods of tracking down and recovering nearly extinct species, through renaissance paintings is as mind boggling as it is admirable.

The cultural impact of fruit is conveyed through interesting tales of families camping under Durian trees to catch the falling fruit, to a whole dynasty falling in the search of the perfect Lychee. These work to highlight the underestimated value of fruit in society today. It seems Chang succeeds in his attempts to resurface memories within the audience, of their own childhood experiences.

Extinction is the overarching theme covering issues such as mass cultivation, political agendas and environmental damage, which threaten to extinguish the diversity of fruit we enjoy (or fail to enjoy) every day. A foraging expedition led by Bala Tingang a member of the Borneo nomadic tribes, highlights the plight of those caught in the extensive logging of that region.

There’s a lot to take in with this documentary which is both a good and bad thing, Chang’s attempt to cover a range of issues results in constant jumping between topics, resulting in none of them receiving the viewer’s full focus. This makes serious issues seem skimmed over. CGI and photographic elements also tend to take over the film, leaving an awkward overly sexualised vibe, which is meant to reflect the book, but could prove uncomfortable for some.

Nevertheless it’s the fun, quirky manner in which it’s shot and the entertaining facts and stories thrown in that makesThe Fruit Hunters an eye opening expedition into a lesser known world. For foodies it’s a dream come true, encouraging salivation at the lips and a pressing desire to take a trip outside the local supermarket shelves.


Duration: 95 minutes

The Fruit Hunters will be screening as part of the Possible Worlds Film Festival Thursday 15th August, 6:30pm at Dendy Newtown. Tickets are on sale now.

For more information about the festival programme please visit: http://www.possibleworlds.net.au/


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