Chocolate Road is a discovery of where chocolate comes from. Three renowned chocolatiers - Maribel Lieberman, Susumu Koyama and Mikkel Friis-Holm - take us through the process of craft chocolate-making, starting from the plantations, through the different stages of preparation of the beans and all the way to the final chocolate pieces. On their journey each of them finds how important it is to know the roots of their prime material - the cacao bean, and the social impact of the people involved in the chocolate production chain.
"Chocolate Road came to me out of the blue with an unexpected call from a Japanese producer who had come across some of my past works and wanted to tell me about his idea. Takayuki Yasuda had the high concept of “chocolate makes the world a better place” that I had to wrap my head around and try to bring down to Earth. Initially the idea tasted sweet and seductive, just like chocolate, but the project was vague, with no concrete steps, too sterile, intangible. Until we went on the first trip.
On the first research trip we tagged along the Japanese chocolatier Susumu Koyama. Together we traveled to Peru. The days were long and packed with crazy roads and amazing views. We filmed everything possible and we just couldn’t take our eyes off the viewfinders. It was mesmerizing. None of us on the team had ever seen a cacao pod. We had never seen how and where the trees grow, we had never tasted the cacao pulp fresh out of the pod, we had no idea of all the steps it had to go through before it became what we know as chocolate. It was eye-opening and mind-boggling that something we ate almost every day came from places none of us knew existed. We sweated out on the field, climbing up mountains and crossing rivers to get to remote plantations. After only one week we were sunburnt and exhausted, out of breath and longing for a nice bath. And then we realized that the farmers who guided us do this on a daily basis. They go up those towering hills every single day to do their job.
That first trip forever changed the way I see and consume chocolate. It gave me a perspective about how much work goes into something I eat in only a few seconds. It also transformed the initial idea of the film - we had to make it a feature, we had to show the full process from bean to bar, and we especially had to make sure the film shows the hard work of the farmers, because without their perseverance the road of chocolate would not exist.
The road was long and winding - starting from the seeds, following the growth of the trees, the harvest, the fermentation, the selection process, the drying, the roasting, the winnowing and mixing, tempering and cooling, through packaging… all the way to the final chocolate pieces on display at the stores. We filmed over a two year period and traveled to Peru, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Trinidad, France, Denmark, Japan and the US. We met with farmers, buyers, processors, experts and local chocolatiers. I wanted to get the whole story, to walk the full length of the road."
“Chocolate Road proves to be an immersive journey behind what Friis-Holm calls “a luxury product that the world doesn’t need, but it makes people happy.” It definitely offers food for thought along with tempting the palate.” – Alliance of Women Film Journalists
About the filmmaker
Tanya Chuturkova is a Creative Producer and Filmmaker with experience in television and film. She produces and directs variety TV shows, commercials, corporate videos, non-scripted TV series and live events for TV broadcast, as well as all types of creative video content. Tanya has written, produced and directed eight short fiction films and has directed her debut documentary feature film - Chocolat Road. She has specialized as an Assistant Director and Production Manager on the sets of commercials, over 20 films, including the feature films "Kidney and Apple" and "Levski", as well as the Food Network reality game shows "Cooks vs Cons" and "Bakers vs Fakers." Tanya also has a background as an editor with credits on numerous award-winning variety shows and commercials. Originally from Sofia, Bulgaria, Tanya is based in New York City, where since 2012 she works with Digital Art Video in developing diverse types of audiovisual projects.