What stimulates you more, food or sex? Can pesticides in food cause autism? Most importantly, do we really know what weʽre eating?

These and other questions will be answered at the Food Film Fest, which takes place Oct. 21-23 at the National Technical Libraryʽs Dejvice Campus. The Fest will offer more than 50 documentary films, along with speakers such as Roman Vaněk, founder of the Prague Culinary Institute, Anna Grosmanová from Slow Food and Karolína Kallmünzerová from Skutečně zdravá škola. Food stands will serve tasty samples from Makro, The Real Meat Society, Veltlin, the Srí Lankan Curry House and many more to stimulate as many tastes as possible. And workshops will cover topics such as “How to portion a boar” and “How honey is made.”

“We chose the most interesting films produced between 2015 and 2016 about food and nutrition, set in environmental, health and social contexts,” says Petr Alexandr, organizer of the festival. “In addition, we offer the opinions of the most qualified experts and scientists from prestigious universities and research institutes, and well-known figures from the foodie and gastronomic scene.”

Viewers whose appetites will be stimulated during the screenings will have an opportunity to satisfy them immediately afterward. “There will be selected stands carefully filled with interesting dishes for the whole duration of the festival,” says Alexandr. “So when the audience comes out of the cinema permeated with new information, it will be possible to test flavors related to the theme of the film.”

One of the themes of this yearʽs Food Film Fest is “The need for meat.” Dutch director Marijn Frank  loves meat, and when neuroscientists compared the reaction of her brain while she was looking at a medium-rare beef tenderloin with her reaction to viewing some “raw” parts of the male body, they concluded that Frank loves meat much better than sex.

In her film “Need for Meat,” the director speaks honestly of her obsession, and the documentary deals professionally with its theme. At the beginning of the film, Frank talks to the manager of a slaughterhouse, rancher of endangered breeds and chef in one person; later she has a discussion with several elderly vegetarian hippies, and finally she goes through a six-week training program at a family bio-slaughterhouse. Only then, Frank picks up a loaded slaughter pistol, looks into the gentle eyes of a cow, and is about to kill by just pulling the trigger, raising uncomfortable questions for the viewer: Could you do it? And are you still able to buy a pound of beef at the supermarket?

Another prominent topic during the Food Film Fest is toxins present in food. Medicines, drugs and cleaning products are stored out of the reach of children, but it seems almost pointless. On a daily basis, up to 130 chemicals are introduced into their bodies through common foods like fruit, vegetables or meat, whose harmfulness to human health is not in doubt. The French documentary “Toxic Chemicals: Children in Danger” looks at where these substances come from and who produces them.

One of the usual suspects among toxins is pesticides, which are produced by the so-called “Big Six Companies,” which have a yearly income of around 50 billion euros. It is impossible to avoid these kind of substances – an estimated 97 percent of the food on the market contains pesticides. The filmmakers had 20 hair samples from French children analyzed, and found traces of 40 different pesticides such as glyphosate, folpet, fenoxycarb, chlorpyrifos and other substances.

According to scientists from the International Endocrinological Society, there is a direct link between pesticides and autism. They found that in 1975,  one in every 5,000 children in the United States was autistic; today that rate is one in every 68. This figure is higher than the number of new diagnoses for cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined.

The Food Film Fest is part of the sixth edition of The Life Science Film Festival, already underway at the Auditorium of the Czech Agricultural University in Prague. Visitors can expect documentaries, discussions and presentations offering various perspectives on issues such as human influence on nature, food production and sustainable development.

“Our aim is to link the pleasure of food with the science around it,” concludes Alexandr. “Our public is not only academic. All events are designed for students of all ages and food estimators looking for another perspective on the theme.”

Admission to all the films and other events is free. For more information, visit www.lsff.cz.

Food Film Fest

Where: National Technical Library, Technická 2710/6, Dejvice, Prague 6

When: Oct. 21 – 23

Life Science Film Festival

Where: CULS Auditorium, Kamýcká 961/129, Suchdol, Prague 6

When: Oct. 17 – 23

Photo Courtesy of Food Film Festival