‘SHELF LIFE’ (Tribeca 2024) Deliciously quirky and fun

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SHELF_LIFE-Clean-16x9-01Give me all the cheeses. It’s a phrase I should embroider on a pillow in my home. We have an entire drawer dedicated to cheese in our refrigerator. Spending two years in New Haven, my husband and I had the privilege of eating at a restaurant called Caseus (RIP). Their famous five-cheese grilled sandwich was a taste bud revelation. Tribeca 2024 documentary SHELF LIFE is tailor-made for cheese freaks such as myself.

Tribeca alum Ian Cheney (The Search for General Tso) features an array of cheese fiends from all over the world, like Mary Quicke, a 14th-generation cheese maker in Devon, England, Alisha Norris Jones, a cheesemonger on Chicago’s West Side, equates cheese and decay and death. A continued thread of philosophy seamlessly weaves into each discussion. Cheesemaker Jim Stillwagon describes eating cheese as “a sensorial adventure.” He’s not wrong.

Immersive camera work and fast-paced editing keep the audience engaged throughout. At times, the film feels like those great visits to factories on Mr. Rogers. Footage from Vermont’s Jasper Hill Farm features mesmerizing close-ups of both machine and human.

We study the microbiology of cheese. Cheese mites are a thing I didn’t need to know about, but now I do. The science of cheese isn’t something I contemplated before watching. Now, I appreciate the process and the immortality of a thing I love so much. SHELF LIFE is a doc about the art of cheese and how the universal savoring of this singular wonder brings people together. Could cheese bring world peace? Anything is possible.

Documentary Competition
Feature | United States | 76 MINUTES | Arabic, English, French, Georgian, Japanese | English subtitles

Directed by 

Ian Cheney

Ian Cheney

Executive Producer

Robyn Metcalfe


Ben Fries, Simon Beins


Natasha Bedu, Ian Cheney


Ezra Wolfinger


Julia de Guzman


Meredith DeSalazar, Rebecca Taylor, Manette Pottle

For more Tribeca 2024 coverage, click here!

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.

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