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Fast Food Nation

First came Morgan Spurlock's award-winning Sundance documentary. Now, McDonald's must face the challenges of vegetarian Richard Linklater's drama Fast Food Nation.
Otto Von Bismark, the Minister-President of Prussia from 1862 to 1890, once said "Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made." If Von Bismark were alive today, he might have changed the word "sausages" to "cheeseburgers." At least that is what filmmaker Richard Linklater would have you believe with his latest film Fast Food Nation. And after seeing the film, this reporter is never eating at McDonald's again!

Based on the best selling non-fiction book by Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation premiered for critics at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival on Thursday, May 18th and screened in competition a day later. Schlosser told reporters in Cannes that although he had been approached by many filmmakers interested in turning his book into a documentary, none of the concepts pitched to him felt right until Linklater came along with the idea of marrying the book's message to a fictional story.
Linklater and Schlosser have put together a provocative ensemble piece that begins with Don Henderson (Greg Kinnear), the Vice President of Marketing for Mickey's fast food restaurants, learning that his establishment is serving contaminated meat in its best-selling burger. Sent on an expedition to the processing plant that supplies the beef to find out where the e-coli is coming from, Henderson is brought face to face with the suspect and sleazy practices of a multi-billion dollar industry.
For now, McDonalds is announcing record quarterly profits. But who's to say what might happen after moviegoers view horrific slaughter house footage taken from what is known as the "kill floor." It seems more than possible that some will be compelled to abandon their meat-eating, Atkins diet-directed ways.

"That's real footage," Linklater exclaimed. "We didn't think we would get that kind of access, but they let us in under some very strict conditions about time and we couldn't bring in equipment. It's tough imagery, but that was the way the narrative unfolds."
"Righteous anger can fuel people and can provoke change, but it hope often generates apathy," he added. "Many people sit around and hope, and that's why there is such great apathy all over the world. Mahatma Gandhi didn't hope that India would change."

Linklater himself didn't have to change his eating habits at all however, having been a vegetarian since early adulthood. "Once I really looked at the food industry I just made my own decisions," said Linklater. :I didn't want to support it with my dollars."

Ironically, Schlosser himself is still a carnivore. "I still eat meat, but I'm just very conscious of where it came from, how it was raised and processed," he confessed. "By refusing to go to the fast food chains and buying that industrial meat you are sending a message that animals shouldn't be treated this way and workers should be treated that way."

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