The Toronto International Film Festival kicked off this past weekend, so as you would imagine, ‘tis the season for TIFF and/or Film-Related Content That’s A Bit Of A Stretch™. Case in point: over at the Toronto Star, Carolyn Evans Hammond took it upon herself to find the best films that have screened at TIFF in recent years on Netflix and pair them with wines. It seems like fun, quirky, and harmless content for films like The Lobster, La La Land, and Blue Is The Warmest Color (even though the lead actresses revealed that filming the sex scenes was “horrible”). That is, until Hammond attempted to find the perfect wine to complement slavery. Hmm.
Hammond’s wine pairings for 12 Years A Slave—and that other very appropriate fun-and-wine movie, the Alzheimer’s-themed Still Alice—have since been removed from the article online, but unfortunately, they did make it to print. And my god.
“Based on a horrific but true story, 12 Years a Slave tells the tale of slavery in the United States in the 1800s. And it earned three Academy Awards including Best Picture. Of course the cruelty, violence and accuracy of the events pictured makes it a difficult film to watch, but at the same time important.”
“So offset the searing cinematic discomfort with this smooth, dry, understated rosé.”
“It soothes the senses with sheer flavors that suggest citrus, stone fruit, and gentle strawberry.”
I’m actually at a loss for words here. This is clearly someone who too earnestly tackled the assignment and took it too far. She could have stuck with quirky animated Anomalisa or quirky biopic Barry or quirky concert doc Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids. I don’t know! Anything but 12 Years a Slave? But at some point Hammond decided to find the perfect understated accessory with which to consume the depiction of a massive human rights atrocity that continues to play out today. And that suggestions of citrus and stone fruit would help swallow it a little better.
In an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review, Hammond said she was sorry that she’d hurt people, but defended her initial decision to tackle the movie:
“What was I going to do otherwise?” she asked. “Omit that film, I think that’s less scrupulous. It’s a very important film to watch. I could have said a shot of whiskey, but I’m a wine writer.”
I don’t know, I definitely might need something a little harder right now.