Virtual Cinema | “My Darling Supermarket” Offers a Touching Look at the Neighborhood Grocery Store March 13, 2021
In the beginning God created heaven and earth. And God said, “Let there be light.”
With these words, Brazilian filmmaker Tali Yankelevich begins My Darling Supermarket, her earnest love letter to the humble neighborhood grocery store.
Yankelevich reminds us with the opening quote that “everything happens through words,” and while the narrator speaks, you see the birth of a new supermarket. As the shelving goes up, markers for corn and peas, vinegar and salt indicate where these products will live.
Ode to an Old Friend
Through the words of the employees who work in this São Paolo supermercado, viewers are reminded of the importance of the local grocer. The recent closure of the Kroger in Montrose (aka Disco Kroger) underscores how these spaces, inhabited by familiar faces, play a role in our daily lives that is worth much more than the sum total at the bottom of the receipt. The stores impart a sense of security we hardly notice—until times of crisis, when the normalcy of the abundantly stocked aisles remains only a memory: a truth laid as bare as the shelves in the face of urgent human need.
Honoring the Staff’s Grace
It is the employees themselves who articulate these human needs: a sign-maker creating the daily specials; a baker whose world view is shaped by an obsession with manga (Japanese comics and graphic novels); and a staffer who reflects on the existential questions posed by the great mysteries of history. As Yankelevich’s gaze moves throughout this universally recognized space, the camera often fixed solely on human activity, the work of documentarian Frederick Wiseman comes to mind: a stocker stocking toothbrushes, a baker scoring loaves of bread, and a deli worker carefully counting slices of cheese that fall into an expertly managed stack. There is something very reassuring about all of these rhythmic rituals. They are the heartbeat of a space created for people’s needs and desires.
Underwriting for the Film Department is provided by Tenaris and the Vaughn Foundation. Generous funding is provided by Nina and Michael Zilkha; The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea; Franci Neely; Carrin Patman and Jim Derrick; Lois Chiles Foundation; ILEX Foundation; L’Alliance Française de Houston; and The Foundation for Independent Media Arts.