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Culture Documentary hosted by Stefan Gates, published by BBC in 2010 - English narration

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Image: Feasts-Cover.jpg

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Feasts A Series in which food writer and presenter Stefan Gates immerses himself in some of the most extraordinary feasts and festivals on earth. By joining ordinary people in these strange and wonderful distillations of their culture and beliefs, he hopes to gain a revelatory insight into how the world thinks and feels.

[edit] India

Stefan makes a journey across India to discover how feasts and celebration divide - and bring together - a turbulent nation that can be driven by religious tension and extremes of wealth. He is shocked to see how much extravagance and social engineering there is in an expensive showpiece Rajasthani Hindu wedding, yet how little emotion is actually expressed. These events are spectacular, and the scale is terrifying for a father of two young daughters. In Kerala, Stefan experiences the bewildering festival of Onam, a Hindu celebration that brings this massive state of millions of people together, Hindu and Christian, rich and poor alike. Over several days he joins almost all of the entire 32m population in sitting down to exactly the same meal - an 11-portion feast eaten with fingers from a banana leaf. Stefan joins in the Pulikali, the tiger dance, and is apparently he first westerner ever to take part. It is the most physically uncomfortable, gruesome day of his life. He has his body hair shaved off with a dry razor, then spends five hours being painted with several layers of household gloss paint, holding on to two sticks to keep his arms outstretched as he dries out. He is then covered in a sweaty, sticky mask and a pair of bordello pants, and packed off into the streets to join his team in dancing like a maniac around the baking-hot streets of the city of Thrissur for four hours.

[edit] Japan

Stefan attempts to get under the skin of the traditional Japanese reserve by joining in some amazing feasts and festivals, a journey which culminates with Stefan and 10,000 Japanese men wearing nothing but loin cloths in a drunken rampage at a sacred Shinto temple. He starts his trip by helping a Shinto priestess carry a six-foot wooden penis around a suburb of Tokyo, as she bemoans how kids today seem to have lost their traditional Japanese reserve, before joining the Baby Sumo festival where parents compete to get their children to cry first, to give them good luck for the rest of their lives. Finally, he embarks on the most extraordinary event of his life - the Naked Man festival. He meets up with Mr Kosaki, a man from the classic Japanese mould who has never told his wife he loves her, who has forsaken his love of music to become a salaryman, and whose work consumes his life. He is as different from Stefan as anyone could hope to be, until his friends arrive and everything changes. They get wildly drunk, practically naked, and stuff themselves with sushi. Then those still standing head off on a terrifying, barrier-wrecking festival that finally allows the Japanese man to reveal himself as passionate, expressive and loving as anyone. It is all rooted in centuries of Shinto food-related tradition, but is really a huge primal scream from men who spend their days unable to express themselves.

[edit] Mexico

Stefan goes on a wild emotional and spiritual rollercoaster ride, starting with a teenage girl's bizarre coming-of-age ceremony and ending with the Day of the Dead, a cacophonous cross-cultural festival of the senses during which Mexicans truly believe that their loved ones come back from the dead for three days every year to spend the day with them. In Oaxaca, he is dressed up as a dead woman and made to dance like a lunatic at the head of a procession as it makes its way through town. He is turned into an emotional wreck at the moment the dead return, bursting into tears as Dias de los Muertos makes him experience grief and loss for the first time. But then in the next breath, the family Stefan is living with teach him to celebrate and laugh at death. They turn his views on their head, allowing him to embrace and conquer his fear of death through an extraordinary sensual onslaught of food, flowers, songs and smells. The sight of the graveyards overflowing with flowers and mescal-drinking revellers is a truly life-changing experience.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: x264 CABAC High@L3.0
  • Video Bitrate: 1594 Kbps
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 1.778 (16:9)
  • Video Resolution: 832 x 468
  • Audio Codec: AAC LC
  • Audio Bitrate: 128 Kbps CBR 48KHz
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • Run-Time: 59mins
  • Framerate: 25fps
  • Number of Parts: 3
  • Part Size: average 726 MB
  • Container: mp4
  • Encoded by: Harry65
  • Source: PDTV

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