As the Milwaukee Film Festival winds down, the documentary WE FEED PEOPLE about World Central Kitchen and chef José Andrés, seemed like a good bet with Ron Howard at the helm. And, for the most part, it is.
The work of World Central Kitchen, providing good meals to people affected by disasters, is hard to argue with. It’s a basic and pure form of charity. And Ron Howard effectively demonstrates all the challenges that go into that endeavor, logistical and personal. Ron Howard brings his skills as a Hollywood director to the film, the camera work is very good, Howard is good at capturing a sense of scale and small personal details, and Howard paces the film well moving from disaster to disaster while tracing the personal history of José Andrés. It’s often inspiring.
Unfortunately, WE FEED PEOPLE isn’t really able to really dive below the surface. Somehow, the inspiration and founding of World Central Kitchen is barely touched on as Howard cuts to the action. And, although Howard tries, he doesn’t really find a way past the somewhat gruff exterior of José Andrés to really get to know the man. But, maybe we don’t need to try to figure out why, the fact that a successful chef and restaurateur will leave the comfort of his family and home and go to disaster zones and work tirelessly to feed desperate people is evidence enough of his character. Still, there’s a sense that there’s a deeper film about all this hard work lurking in the material that never really emerges.
WE FEED PEOPLE is a polished, well constructed documentary that gets in, tells its story, and gets out. There’s some great subject matter here that’s worthy of the spotlight. It’s only real sin is that it leaves you wanting more.
WE FEED PEOPLE has no more screenings during the 2022 Milwaukee Film Festival but it’s still available to stream on the virtual portion of the festival and will be available on Disney+ on May 27. The 2022 Milwaukee Film Festival runs from April 21, 2022 until May 5, 2022. You can purchase tickets at mkefilm.org.