Natasha Dow Schüll

postcard-buffet.png

BUFFET

All You Can Eat Las Vegas

SYNOPSIS

Thanksgiving weekend, Las Vegas: a camera journeys through Sin City’s all-you-can-eat buffets and finds a kaleidoscope of characters behind the food—from tireless chefs preparing gargantuan bowls of ambrosia, to servers who bus endless plates, to hungry diners in search of a culinary jackpot and a portion of the American dream.

“The buffet is the happiest and saddest place,” says Pierre, a meat carver at the New Frontier’s buffet. This documentary brings the happiness and the sadness of the buffet to light, taking the audience on a wild gastronomic voyage behind the scenes of an all-American binge ritual. Buffet follows the food: from kitchen to cornucopia, table to mouth, waste bin to local farm where 6,000 eager pigs feast on buffet leftovers. All along the consumption chain, a diverse cast of characters share their desires, their weaknesses, their pleasures, and their shames The camera rolls as the savory promise that greets diners turns to gluttony, then despondence—and sometimes, a flickering hope for something more than just “all you can eat.”

Director, Producer: Natasha Dow Schüll
Co-Director, Camera: Hillevi Zazel Loven
Editors: Till Osterland, Natasha Dow Schüll, Matthew Bird
Additional Camera: Pawel Wojtasik, James Wright

REVIEWS AND ENDORSEMENTS

“In this 30-minute ode to gluttony, self-proclaimed buffet connoisseurs arrange incredible and unlikely food combinations on enormous plates; casino employees, used to dealing with gob-smacking amounts of consumption, ponder how a horseshoeshaped restaurant allows for “more flow.” Meanwhile, Sin City pigs grunt on a farm outside town, eagerly awaiting the leftovers. After all, as the farmer’s wife points out, humans and pigs have nearly identical digestive tracts….”
San Francisco Guardian

“Schüll’s doc is about the morphing process – i.e., human beings devolving into pigs – that happens whenever upstanding middle-class people are presented with a well-stocked buffet. The film starts out in a deceptively matter-of-fact way, then gradually becomes one of the most withering critiques of the Land of Gluttony I’ve ever seen. I felt ashamed of myself, and sorry for the pigs who show up towards the end of the film… I will never load up my plate with too much food again…”
—Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere

GALLERY