Filmmaker Byron Hurt was last seen on PBS' Independent Lens Series in 2007 with his documentary Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, an unflinching look at masculinity, misogyny, and homophobia in the rap world. Hurt now returns to public television with Soul Food Junkies, in which he tackles the broader issue of eating habits and health in the black community.
See Also:Hurt finds that it's an issue that runs deep in families who have employed the fatty cooking associated with soul food as a vehicle for comforting and uniting people.
"People are very emotionally connected to soul food," Hurt told NPR. "They're connected to the food that their mother or grandmother or great-grandmother or great-grandfather prepared for them growing up. . . so whenever you challenge that culinary tradition, that culture, people become a little bit territorial and protective of it."
Hurt says the film uses soul food as a jumping off point to discuss larger issues like fast food, processed food, and poor access to healthy produce in inner cities. He isn't advocating abandoning soul food altogether, but suggesting that people can continue to enjoy it if healthier modifications are considered. He even features Oakland chef Bryant Terry, author of Vegan Soul Kitchen, for inspiration.
Hurt presents a free screening of Soul Food Junkies tonight (Jan. 15) in the Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Public Library (100 Larkin at Grove) at 5:45 p.m. and will appear tomorrow night (Jan. 16) at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center (388 Ninth St. at Franklin). Check the PBS Independent Lens Series episode guide for air times on KQED channels.