The LSFF 2015 Grand Prix with EUR 3000 prize money goes to American film In Defense of Food based on Michael Pollan’s bestseller of the same title. We asked the director Michael Schwarz why he was so interested in the book´s topic of how “edible” becomes “food”. 

What is it about Michael Pollan’s books that has made you devote (so far) two documentaries to them?

Michael and I have been friends since the late 1970s.  When I first read The Botany of Desire I was struck by the compelling premise of looking at the relationship between plants and people from the plants’ point of view, the importance of the subject of our co-evolutionary relationship with plants, as well as by the visual possibilities inherent in the story.  Based on the success of that project Michael and I began discussing possibilities for another film, and we focused on In Defense of Food because no one had yet made a film that answered the question, “What should I eat to be healthy?”.

The topics of your films are very diverse. You have shot documentaries on the search for an HIV treatment, on people suffering from Parkinson’s disease or on fractal geometry; now you come with a film on food. We find it hard to find any link between these topics. What is it that a certain subject matter must have in order for you to start dealing with it as Michael Schwarz the film director?

I’ve always had very eclectic interests.  In fact my major in college was called History, the Arts and Letters.  Those of us who choose it joked that it was for people who couldn’t decide what they were really interested in. I became a journalist for similar reasons… it was a way of following my curiosity in a number of different directions.  So what I look for is a good story about something that matters where I feel Kikim Media can make a difference by telling it on television for a broad audience.  Equally important, it has to be something we can find funding to support.

Michael Schwarz is also President of Kikim Media production company. Which new or even future projects on which your team has been or will be working would you recommend to the attention of the audiences at the Life Sciences Film Festival?

We’re currently working on a three-hour history of Silicon Valley and seeking support for a project on diabetes.  We’re also just finishing a few short videos on the field of ancient DNA, microfluidics and folding microscopes that cost less than a dollar, all of which might interest audiences at LSFF.


Find more information about the movie in this article.

Michael Schwarz

– American director, producer, president of Kikim Media production company

– winner of prestigious awards, e.g. 3 national EMMY Awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Journalism Award for Investigative Journalism etc.

–  his film Botany of Desire won the LSFF the Award of Minister of Agriculture at the 2012 LSFF

– some of his films: My Father, My Brother and Me (chronicle of Parkinson disease), Hunting the Hidden Dimension (the story of fractal geometry),  Ending AIDS: The Search for a Vaccine, Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet.

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