Here are 3 more picks from me for this year’s 39th Mill Valley Film Festival that runs from Oct 6-16,2016.. These 3 films take you on a culinary and mediation journey across the world. In case you missed it, here are my first 3 selections of films from this year’s film festival.

The Last Dalai Lama? – Documentary Trailer from Mickey Lemle on Vimeo.

Mickey Lemle’s The Last Dalai Lama is a profile of the famous monk, who lives in exile in Dharamsala, India. The film starts off as  the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday celebration in New York and looks back at his life.  How did he prepare for his life as a monk? What was the role of his family? And will there be a next Dalai Lama? Or, will China chose the next Dalai Lama? Or, is he the last Dalai Lama are some of the questions explored in the film. What is emphasized in the film is the Dalai Lama’s thoughts on practicing mediation and cultivating compassion and empathy in our lives. His message that hatred does not solve anything seems fitting in today’s world.

Here is the link for tickets and information on The Last Dalai Lama.

My next 2 picks are about food and the people behind them, who perhaps help create the celebrity chef trend. There is a  new section in this year’s festival called Culinary Films that focus on well-known restauranteurs and chefs and their dedication and vision in creating new cuisinesand food experiences for their patrons. We travel with Ella Brennan to New Orleans, while  Jeremiah Tower takes us on a electic food journey around the world and then back to California and Mexico with a quick tour of Manhattan


Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table Trailer from Iwerks & Co. on Vimeo.

In Ella Brennan’s Commanding The Table we travel to New Orleans to find outvthe central role played by the Brennan family in shaping the culinary landscape of the city. This is a fascinating film about 90-year old Ella Brennan on how she got a start in her family’s restaurant business and broke out to establish her own restaurant called Commander’s Palace. Emeril Lagasse got his big break at this restaurant and Chef Paul Prudhomme brought his Cajun style of cooking into the restaurant. The film is directed by Leslie Iwerks.

Here is the link for tickets and information on Ella Brennan: Commanding The Table


We get a glimpse of the visionary and elegant chef Jeremiah Tower, who is credited with creating California cuisine and the art of using local, fresh ingredients in the restaurant.

Chef Tower studied to be an architect at Harvard University. It was serendipity that led him to become a chef. He first worked at Berkeley’s Chez Panise and then went on to open a swank new restaurant in San Francisco called Stars. The restaurant was a runaway success. Why did Tower leave Stars and disappear in the last decade of the 20thc? He moved to Mexico and lead a somewhat of a quiet life. A couple of years ago he came back to work at Manhattan’s Tavern on The Green. After a short stint at the New York restaurant, he went back to Mexico, which is where he spends most of his time now.

Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent is produced by Anthony Bourdain’s and directed by Lydia Tenaglia.

Here is the link for tickets and information on Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent


Podcast: Pico Iyer on California, Writing, Traveling and Graham Greene


Pico Iyer Photo credit: Alfred A. Knopf/Vintage Books

Pico Iyer

Pico Iyer is a well-known writer and essayist. He is a prolific writer, who spends most of his time living in Japan.

In part-2 of our conversation Iyer talks about growing up in England and California, his writing style, globalism, living in Japan and his favorite author Graham Greene.

Iyer often writes about globalism, and yet lives in a secluded part of Japan where he does not watch TV or read newspapers. The  phone rings probably once a month at his home he says. Most evenings he plays ping-pong with senior Japanese people. And when he comes to his mother’s home in Santa Barbara he often makes time to stay at a Benedictine monastery near Big Sur..

Iyer wrote his first book Video Night in Kathmandu over 20 years ago and it still features as one of the top must-read books. He is the author of The Lady and the MonkFalling Off The MapAbandon and a book on Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader, who has been living in India since 1959.

Tune in to find out how Pico is able to keep his pulse on the planet and write those articles and books on globalism.

LISTEN: Pico Iyer on Writing, Traveling and Graham Greene:

This interview was recorded in 2008.

Photo credit: Alfred A. Knopf/Vintage Books