Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
James Beard Award-winning author and feisty nonagenarian Diana Kennedy reflects on a life dedicated to the vibrant cuisines of Mexico.
257 backers pledged $47,665 to help bring this project to life.

About

NOTHING FANCY: DIANA KENNEDY project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

$47,665

257

NOTHING FANCY: DIANA KENNEDY is a biographical documentary about 94-year-old James Beard Award-winning food writer and foremost expert on Mexican cuisine, Diana Kennedy.   

Diana is widely considered the world's academic expert on Mexican cuisine, with nine cookbooks, two James Beard Awards, and hundreds of awards and accolades for her work. 

At 94, she has a youthful spirit and energy. People often refer to her as the Julia Child of Mexico, but Diana prefers an edgier given title: "the Mick Jagger of Mexican Cooking". She lives on her own, completely off-the-grid in the mountains of Michoacán. More culinary anthropologist than typical chef, Diana has traveled many times over to every state and region of Mexico, extensively researching and documenting the ingredients and dishes of each area. Throughout her six decades of exploration, Diana witnessed first-hand as heirloom varieties of essential ingredients like corn, tomatoes, and chiles were lost to industrialization. She has documented everything. 

Diana in her kitchen, 2014
Diana in her kitchen, 2014

Diana is a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her work unifying Mexico and the UK, and is the recipient of Mexico's highest foreign honor, the Order of the Aztec Eagle. Over decades, she's garnered the friendship and admiration of many prominent chefs and writers around the world, including Alice Waters, Craig Claiborne, Jacques Pépin, Alain Ducasse, Julia Child, José Andrés, and Rene Redzepi. She was a speaker at the MAD Food Seminar in Copenhagen in 2013, a guest judge on Top Chef Mexico, and inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Hall of Fame in 2014 for her 600-page tome, Oaxaca al Gusto.

Diana grew up in England, cutting down trees for the Women's Timber Corp in Canada during WWII before meeting her husband during a revolution in Haiti in 1957 -- New York Times correspondent Paul Kennedy. Diana followed him to Mexico City where they married, and she instantly fell in love with the markets, the ingredients, and the vibrant and varied dishes. She began a lifelong education in Mexican food, driven by passion, and devoted herself to mastering the cuisines of Mexico.

Interior of Diana's home in Michoacán
Interior of Diana's home in Michoacán

Diana lives sustainably in the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico in a solar-powered ecological house she designed and built in the mid-1970's. She recycles rainwater, uses virtually no electricity, and produces almost zero waste. Between her gigantic gardens and a fruit orchard, she grows vegetables, citrus, corn, and her own coffee, which she roasts herself (!). Diana constantly speaks of the importance of conserving the earth's resources, and she practices what she preaches.

Diana in her garden
Diana in her garden

Diana Kennedy has always been a rogue pioneer -- now, she's a living legend. At 94 years old, she's still traveling, driving, cooking, and working from home in Mexico. She's a model of longevity, and an icon for the food and climate movements.

WHY WE NEED THESE FUNDS:

Diana's story deserves to be told professionally and beautifully. 

We've been filming with Diana Kennedy for four years, and have over 100 hours of footage. Finishing funds will allow us to film final interviews with our crew, hire a full-time editor, pay our composer to score, and hire a sound editor to mix the film. We need hard drives to safely store the film-in-progress, and to be able to outsource branding and marketing materials from our talented graphic designers. We are beginning post-production now, and plan to finish by spring 2018. 

WHY IT WILL BE WORTH WATCHING:

In addition to intimate and hilarious moments with Diana, the film features interviews with José Andrés, Alice Waters, Enrique Olvera, and Gabriela Cámara, among other chefs and food writers.

Alice Waters Interview at Chez Panisse, 2017
Alice Waters Interview at Chez Panisse, 2017

We have unrestricted access to Diana's archives, photos, and research materials, including several episodes of a cooking show she filmed for The Learning Channel in 1992 called "The Art of Mexican Cooking", which never aired. We also have 11 full VHS tapes of miscellaneous content from Diana's personal archive.

Graham Reynolds
Graham Reynolds

Composer Graham Reynolds is creating an original score for the film. Reynolds' music has been heard throughout the world from HBO to Showtime, and BBC to NPR. He has scored several prominent feature films, including Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly and Before Midnight [c. Wikipedia]. Reynolds and director Elizabeth Carroll met in Austin, bonding over a mutual appreciation for Diana. Reynolds owns all of Diana's books and agreed to score the film on the spot. 

HOW WE'RE GETTING IT OUT THERE:

We have an excellent angle for international distribution, working with sales agents Dogwoof (UK/Global), Submarine Entertainment/Submarine Deluxe (USA), and FilmsWeLike (Canada), who all specialize in documentaries. Submarine has successfully sold films such as Citizenfour, Man on Wire, 20 Feet From Stardom, Blackfish, Searching for Sugarman, Food, Inc., The Wolfpack, and many, many others. Dogwoof and FilmsWeLike boast equally impressive portfolios. 

 

 

We are 90% finished with production, and have a clear path to completion. After years of hard work, we are ready to finish strong for Diana's legacy. Our seasoned post-production team in New York is ready to give their talent, energy, and effort to make this project the best it can be.

Diana Kennedy is a precious piece of culinary and cultural history -- she's a fierce advocate of sustainability, a feminist, and a true lover and defender of Mexico. She is electrifying onscreen, with infectious energy, humor, and passion. 

In our current political/biological climate, Diana's arguments for environmental conservation are timely and essential. 

This film, made possible by your contribution, will allow Diana's influence and personality to be recognized and remembered for generations to come. 

Director's Note:

I knew I wanted to meet Diana in October 2013, as I was developing a project about the role of women in Mexico's culinary history. After a few hours of research, I was longing to interview her, but had no idea how to contact her. She was 90, living in Michoacán, Mexico, and for all I knew, might not have an email address. Later that day, on a whim, I went to a local bookstore in Austin, Texas. I pulled into the parking lot and looked up at the marquee. 

It said, "BOOK SIGNING WITH DIANA KENNEDY TOMORROW". 

I was stunned. The serendipity of the event was truly bizarre. Fate, or just really good luck? Either way, I was there the next day, introducing myself to Diana. On our way in, I asked if she wanted to take the elevator upstairs. She shoved me out of the way, saying, "I don't take elevators!" and charged up the stairs ahead of me. I thought, Oh my god, she's a badass.

Director Elizabeth Carroll
Director Elizabeth Carroll

Despite my nervousness, something about our meeting felt easy and familiar -- there was a kind of common understanding between us. Diana said she "knew" I wanted to do a film about her, and I told her I thought she needed a wider audience for her perspectives on the future of food. 

 She suggested we have a Skype call (she does email), and I arrived at her house to film for the first time a few months later. She made us tortas larger than our faces, at which point I knew I could die satisfied.

Now, after four years, Diana feels like family. I'm ready to finish this, for her.

Risks and challenges

In terms of risks, we've effectively gotten past most of them at this stage in the process. Most projects get stunted somewhere in the middle, and we are thrilled to be past that point. We are 90% finished with production, so instead of being years away from completing, we are months away (!) and can clearly see the finish line.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION! PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK!

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 15 or more About US$ 15

    Thank You!

    Thank you so much for being part of this campaign. Your name will appear in the film's credits.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    57 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    NFDK Original Postcard

    A handwritten note of thanks from the director on a postcard with artwork designed for the film by MiniSuperStudio in Mexico City.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 60 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    NFDK Tote Bag

    Limited-edition Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy logo design by MiniSuperStudio in Mexico City. Put your groceries in it!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    37 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    Collector's Edition Film Poster

    You'll receive a tote bag and a signed, full-length, glossy NOTHING FANCY: Diana Kennedy poster designed by MiniSuperStudio in Mexico City.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 36 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    Collector's Item: DK Archival Print

    You will receive a tote bag, and a beautiful, high-quality 5x7 black-and-white print of an original archival photo of Diana from her glory days. Highly frame-able and exclusively available via this campaign.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 4 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    2 Film Passes + B&W Archival Print

    You'll receive two passes to a screening of Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy, plus a tote bag, a film poster, and a beautiful 5x7 black-and-white print of an original archival photo of DK from her glory days. This is a collector's item exclusively available via this campaign.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 5 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Reward no longer available

    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    DK-Style Private Dinner for 6

    Director Elizabeth Carroll will cook a DK recipe for you and up to 6 people in NYC, LA, San Francisco or Austin. The dinner will include traditional Oaxacan antojitos and a mezcal tasting in addition to the meal. You'll also receive each reward up to this point (film passes, tote bag, poster, and collector's archival print).

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Reward no longer available 5 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    Two VIP Tickets to NYC Premiere

    Two VIP tickets to NYC premiere of NOTHING FANCY with a cocktail hour to precede. Airfare and lodging not included.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About US$ 2,500

    Private Mezcal Tour for 6 in Oaxaca

    A private guided mezcal tour of central Oaxaca for up to six people, courtesy of Mezcouting. You'll see (and taste) how the some of world's best mezcal is made from a few of its producers. Food will be included for the duration of the tour. Airfare and lodging not included.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 5,000 or more About US$ 5,000

    All-Inclusive Oaxacan Trip for 2

    An personally-tailored 4-day trip for two to the vibrant UNESCO World Heritage Site of Oaxaca. The trip includes 5-star lodging for 3 nights in Oaxaca City and all food, with a private guided tour of world-class mezcal production facilities from Mezcouting, as well as a curated food guide to the city's best eating destinations.
    Airfare not included.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  11. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10,000 About US$ 10,000

    Executive Producer

    All rewards through #8, as well as an Executive Producer credit on the film, a private lunch with the director and Diana Kennedy, and a private screening (antojitos & mezcal included) for you and 25 friends. We will also arrange a Mezcouting tour in Oaxaca at the date of your choice.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)