Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mushroom Forager Makes Film on His Work

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mushroom Forager Makes Film on His Work

Article excerpt

WHAT: "Now, Forager."

WHERE: IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave. (at West Third Street), Manhattan.

WHEN: Today through Tuesday.


These will kill you, Jason Cortlund says matter-of-factly, pointing to a mushroom among the fallen leaves. He is walking through the woods somewhere in Passaic County. Water drips from the trees after an overnight rain as he describes the organ shutdown, apparent recovery then painful death that comes after eating one of those little guys.

Cortlund is looking for edible mushrooms, foraging while explaining this passion, as well as the independent film inspired by it.

"Now, Forager," which opens a week of screenings in Manhattan today, is the story of a marriage and mushrooms, a movie for food lovers, mycologists and anyone who loves long, slow, contradictory cinematic stretches of woods, restaurant kitchens and city life.

Cortlund wrote the screenplay and co-directed the film with Julia Halperin. He also stars in the film, as Lucien Echevarria, who lives with his wife, Regina, in Jersey City and searches for edible wild mushrooms in the woods of central and northern New Jersey to sell to New York City restaurants.

The movie taps into a current trend.

"It seems foraging in general, not just for wild mushrooms, has become super hot," says Britt Bunyard, the publisher and editor-in- chief of the fledgling Fungi magazine.

New Jersey has plenty of good spots for foraging, but mycologists won't give away their locations, especially when it comes to a certain kind of mushroom.

"Morel spots are sacred," says Cortlund, who proved the point by heading out alone with his own camera set-up to film the morel scenes for the movie.

Not that he doesn't trust his crew, but ...

It may seem a little extreme but Cortlund doesn't take foraging lightly and nobody else should either.

"I really can't believe people are so cavalier," Bunyard says of those who just head out to find food in the wild without the proper education. …

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