The Film

Watch the story of Alex and Sylvia

Trailer of "The Golden Ear", the Story of Sylvia and Alex


This is the story of two neighbours…

Sylvia, a graduate in hydraulic engineering, works as a researcher at the EU’s Joint Research Centre. Just as she does every year, she drives with her pet dog to visit her grandmother in a village not far from the city where she lives. For as long as anyone can remember, Granny has been tirelessly running the village bakery, the heart and soul of the community. In contrast, Alex spends his days in the fields. A farmer like his forefathers, he uses cutting edge technology to grow high-quality wheat.

When Sylvia reaches Granny’s house there is a surprise in store for her. The elderly bakery owner has decided to take a well-earned break, as running the business is getting too much for her. She puts an apron on her granddaughter and hands her an old recipe book. Just like that the bakery is under new management!

This challenge comes as a shock to Sylvia, just as it comes as a shock when she meets Alex: he likes the look of her, but she plays it cool. As Sylvia enters the bakery she is gripped by fear but also buoyed by courage (which soon deserts her when she lets the door slam in the face of Alex who was coming to lend a hand). She opens the recipe book, studies it like a good researcher and gets down to mixing the ingredients. Within a matter of hours the shop shelves are groaning under an array of loaves and cakes.

There is only one slight hitch: they taste awful. Sylvia simply mixed the ingredients without following any precise order. |The regular customers, used to Granny’s expert baking, come into the shop expecting the usual wares but find themselves tasting bread that is anything but traditional. Sylvia is dis¬traught, but pride in her knowledge of science is such that she refuses Alex’s help. Until, that is, the village is hit by a powerful storm. Being an expert in hydraulics, she raises the alarm right across the village. As the flooding worsens, there is a danger that the bridge will collapse and, with it, the only road to the city. Many years of research have made Sylvia an authority on weather phenomena such as heavy rains and flash floods. She explains to the villagers that events like this will only happen more and more often.

Her cooperation with Alex begins as the storm is raging, when they start working together to stem the flood. They work non-stop to keep the village out of danger. When the worst has passed and the sun is shining again, the scientist and the farmer go back to preparing bread. Alex brings his best flour to the bakery and Sylvia follows all his instructions with scientific precision. The quality of the bread is now the only thing that counts. But the best bread is not turned out by simply mixing water, flour and everything else; two very different philosophies must also be added to the mix. What will have the upper hand, the scientist’s precision or the farmer’s traditional know how?

Bread is the thread running through Sylvia and Alex’s story. We have chosen it to illustrate the theme of the European Union Pavilion because bread has historically been the symbol of a food made for sharing. The story told is a metaphor for the motto of the European Union, ‘United in diversity’. This motto testifies to how Europeans, through the EU, have succeeded in working together for peace and prosperity, while retaining the richness of the continent’s many and varied cultures, traditions and lan¬guages. If the challenge of Expo Milan 2015 is to find ways of feeding a planet that in a few short decades will reach 9 billion inhabitants, it is a challenge that will only be met when our farming traditions work hand-in-hand with scientific research.

Their worlds become entwined through the essence of wheat and bread, more specifically: delicious honey wheat bread. But will they be able to join forces when the village needs their help? And will their love overcome these turbulent times? The answers will unravel in this captivating story that represents the European DNA through struggle, evolution and resilience.

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