“Waste Land” Oscar-nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker is working on her next ambitious documentary, “The Great Oven,” which focuses on grassroots food movements in the Middle East and South America.
The initiative, which was created in 2019 by James Gomez Thompson and Beirut-born Nour Matraji, has allowed the massive decorative ovens to be distributed to corners of the world, including Lebanon and Colombia. The ovens were first distributed along the Lebanese/Syrian border to unite communities on both sides of the decade-long sectarian conflict.
The character-driven film follows Gomez Thompson’s journey from Lebanon to Colombia, where a motley crew is leading a solidarity movement. Many of them have been marginalized, especially stateless youth, refugee families, former child combatants and trafficked women.
“What started with something as simple as a community oven has opened up a universe I couldn’t have imagined,” said Gomez Thompson.
Sheff says the movement aims to “empower people who are marginalized by society.” They “showed compassion and hospitality that is a lesson to the rest of the world.”
“These are the food ambassadors we should look up to (…) and my goal is to tell their stories of hope and ingenuity,” said Gomez Thompson.
The film opens on the Colombian border in La Guajira, where a group of refugee-experts from The Great Oven form a group called the Wayu, a matriarchal indigenous tribe of the region. Together they set out to build more Great Ovens and nurture the community around them.
The movement has now gained the support of big names along the way, notably Nigel Slater, the renowned British food writer and broadcaster, who cooked with The Great Oven team in the Becca Valley. Other prominent figures who have championed the initiative include Mexican architect Frida Escobedo, who is currently designing the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new $500 million modern and contemporary art wing. Escobedo recently agreed to design the Great Oven headquarters in Colombia.
Walker’s latest film “Bring Your Own Brigade”, which revolved around the wildfires, was released
Theatrically by Paramount, and streams on Paramount+ and CBSN. It was part of the New York Times
Top 10 Best Movies of 2021
The documentary is being produced by Slater, Antonio von Hildebrand, a Colombian film producer, Philippe de Bourbon, a French film producer and executive who previously worked at Canal+ where he commissioned the Oscar-nominated “The Invisible War” along with the Emmy-nominated documentary “Terror Studio” and “Exodus.” He recently founded Andaman Films and executive produced Sabrina Van Tassel’s “The State of Texas vs. Melissa.” “The Great Oven” is also produced by Emiliano Mancilla, a well-known Colombian producer working in Mexico, and Stone Douglas, who is currently producing Fox Searchlight’s drama feature The Greatest Hits, written and directed by Ned Benson.
More photos from the documentary: