The Fruit Hunters by Yung Chang

The Fruit Hunters
Directed by Yung Chang

Noris Ledesma, Member of the Rare Fruit Council Int'l
A gray November day calls for an adventure! So why not follow passionate fruit hunters Noris Ledesma and Richard Campbell on their quest to find a “wani” mango in Bali and rescue a rare durian from the evil clutches of encroaching industrialists in the jungles of Borneo. Their noble mission—to obtain plant grafts to preserve the species for cultivation on the other side of the world. Yet, the dynamic duo’s obsession with rare fruit is by no means unique, as moviegoers discovered at the world première of The Fruit Hunters presented at the 14th annual Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montreal. Among the ranks of fruit fanatics, the film features a driven fruit scientist who works tirelessly to create a banana resistant to a deadly fungus threatening the world’s crop, a fruit detective who studies paintings from the renaissance era to rediscover forgotten fruit and a well-known actor and fruit activist who spearheads a campaign to start a community orchard on coveted property in the Hollywood Hills.

Indigenous Guide in Borneo
Based on Adam Gollner’s best-selling book, The Fruit Hunters is a visually stunning, fast-paced Indiana Jones-style documentary that takes us back in history and around the globe, investigating our love affair with fruit. Although actor Bill Pullman adds some celebrity fire power to the film, there is no question that the star of the show is none other than the fruit itself, in all its myriad forms. From the very first scene, the object of  affection is cast in a sensual and delectable light with a series of close-ups, enhancing the colour, texture and fullness of its star performers. A good thing the première was followed by a fruit-tasting event! And what better way to further enhance the natural beauty of fruit than by quickly switching to images of our mass-produced supermarket variety—the plain jane and insipid-tasting cousin of the real thing.

The Fruit Hunters takes a step away from the documentary in its strictest sense, using humourous re-enactments, highly detailed miniatures and a sprightly musical score. But these aspects add to the film’s playfulness and will remind many viewers of childhoods when both fruit and dreams of adventure were welcome distractions.

The film incorporates plenty of high stakes and irresistible hooks to keep the adventure rolling. Yet, it leaves viewers hanging as to the fate of Pullman’s Hollywood Orchard and whether or not Ledesma and Campbell’s white mango grafts bore fruit. Something tells me there might be a sequel, and I’ll be the first in line.

The Fruit Hunters will be opening on November 23, 2012 in Montreal and Toronto and on
November 30, 2012 in Vancouver.

Cross-posted at Rover Arts.

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