The number of movies focusing on food—growing, preparing and eating it—grows every year. Almost every film festival has a selection you want to taste. And the 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival is no exception with its Spotlight section focusing on four new features. And we are adding another that we feel fits the category.
RAMEN SHOP is the newest film from Singaporean director Eric Khoo who has made several food related works and the masterful BE WITH ME and 12 STOREYS. With RAMEN SHOP the filmmaker gives mouthwatering evidence to the idea that food can not only satisfy the stomach, it can heal the heart.
“I felt that food would be a perfect vehicle as both Japan and Singapore are crazy about food,” Khoo explains in a director’s note, “and because there are so many stories about food that have moved me.”
Masato is a young ramen chef in the city of Takasaki in Japan. After the sudden death of his emotionally distant father, he chances upon a suitcase of memorabilia and a red notebook – filled with musings and old photos – left behind by his Singaporean mother who died when he was just ten years old. Acting on a hunch, he takes off for Singapore with the notebook, hoping to piece together the story of his life, as well as that of his parents. There he meets Miki, a Japanese food blogger and single mother who helps him track down his maternal uncle Ah Wee, who runs a bah-kut-the stand selling a legendary pork rib soup. Masato discovers that his grandmother Madam Lee is still alive, and that she holds the key to the tender yet turbulent love story of his parents. Masato and his grandmother try to heal each other’s broken soul and find salvation in the kitchen where the meals they cook become more than the sum of their ingredients.
Screen Daily warned, “A mouthwatering drama… that should not be approached on an empty stomach.”
Screens Friday, April 12 and Sunday, April 14.
NOTHING FANCY: DIANA KENNEDY follow’s the chef reflecting on her life’s work as one of the globe’s authorities on Mexican cuisine, 95-year-old Diana Kennedy says, “Always get a recipe.” Whether hosting cooking classes in her Michoacán home (“If anyone says they don’t like cilantro, please don’t invite them”), driving back roads in her weathered Nissan, or providing a noteworthy example of sustainable living, Kennedy and her reminiscences and irascible persona show how passion and appetite made a career. Though the film remains focused indelibly on Kennedy, Bay Area food luminaries Alice Waters and Gabriela Cámara offer penetrating insights of their own. Winner, Special Jury Recognition for Excellence in Storytelling, SXSW.
“Featuring home videos, personal photos, interviews with more than half a dozen chefs, music from Austin composer Graham Reynolds and unprecedented access to Kennedy and her Michoacán homestead, the documentary captures the feistiness and passion of the ‘adorable narcissist’ who continues to teach cooking classes and travel to talk about her work.” – Addie Broyles, Austin360
EatDrinkFilms ran an article during the Kickstarter campaign that included her recipes for Authentic Guacamole and Carnitas and videos of Diana cooking.
The filmmakers are creating a new trailer.
Screens Friday, April 12 and Monday, April 15 with filmmaker Elizabeth Carroll in attendance.
BLOODROOT is the newest movie by Douglas Tirola who is no stranger to our readers. He has made a range of work from DRUNKSTONEDBRILLIANTDEAD about the National Lampoon (which was reviewed by some of the magazine’s artists in EDF), BREWMASTER (covered in EDF) plus HEY BARTENDER, and ALL IN:THE POKER MOVIE.
BLOODROOT follows the lives of two exceptional women. They came of age in the 1950s when women were relegated to the roles of wives and mothers. Noel was a former teen model and Playboy bunny during the height of the women’s movement. She met and fell in love with Selma, a tough, outspoken radical feminist. Both women choose to leave their comfortable, yet unsatisfying marriages and children to come out as lesbians. The two share a love of cooking and gardening and, in the ’70s, opened Bloodroot, the first vegetarian collective restaurant and bookstore in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
By interspersing archival footage and clips from THE STEPFORD WIVES, Tirola affectionately chronicles the cultural shifts and the evolution of feminism over the last 40 years as Noel and Selma attempt to keep Bloodroot open as an indispensable gathering spot for progressive women.
Shows Thursday, April 11 and Saturday, April 13. Director Douglas Tirola and subjects Selma Miriam and Noel Furie are expected to attend.
STREET FOOD is the newest series of mouthwatering documentaries that are David Gelb’s specialty. The man who brought the world JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI (2011) and the series Chef’s Table (2015- ) and Chef’s Table: France (2016) is back with a new show. After concentrating on high-end eateries with those earlier projects, he now turns his attention to food that is just as delicious, if humbler, with this luscious tour of Asian street food exploring nine countries across Asia, from the hawker stalls and food carts in India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam — where street food is not just incredibly popular but considered some of the best in the world.
While a showcase for the food, the series also gets up close and personal with the vendors, include Bangkok’s Jay Fai — who earned a Michelin Star for her innovative take on Thai street food dishes including drunken noodles, crab omelet, and tom yum soup — and Indonesia’s 100-year-old Mbah Lindu, one of the world’s oldest street cooks who has been making gudeg (young sweet jackfruit stew) every day for more than 86 years, as well as many more.
These sublime episodes are sure to leave you hungry. Luckily, SFFILM is doing something to assuage those stomach pangs. Guests attending Street Food will receive a ticket at the screening that they can redeem afterward for one free meal at one of three food trucks parked at the Lakeview Library Parking lot (550 El Embarcadero) near the theater.
Screens Saturday, April 20 at the Grand Lake in Oakland. Producers David Gelb, Brian McGinn, Daniel Milder, and Tamara Rosenfeld are expected to attend.
We think that HONEYLAND belongs in this category though it participation in the Golden Gate Awards Competition must have pushed it out of “Food + Film.” One of our favorite films at Sundance where it won three awards.
Nestled in an isolated mountain region deep within the Balkans, Hatidze Muratova lives with her ailing mother in a village without roads, electricity or running water. She’s the last in a long line of Macedonian wild beekeepers, eking out a living farming honey in small batches to be sold in the closest city – a mere four hours’ walk away. Hatidze’s peaceful existence is thrown into upheaval by the arrival of an itinerant family, with their roaring engines, seven rambunctious children and herd of cattle. Hatidze optimistically meets the promise of change with an open heart, offering up her affections, her brandy and her tried-and-true beekeeping advice.It doesn’t take long however, before Hussein, the itinerant family’s patriarch, senses opportunity and develops an interest in selling his own honey. Hussein has seven young mouths to feed and nowhere to graze his cattle, and he soon casts Hatidze’s advice aside in his hunt for profit. This causes a breach in the natural order that provokes a conflict with Hatidze that exposes the fundamental tension between nature and humanity, harmony and discord, exploitation and sustainability. Even as the family provides a much-needed respite from Hatidze’s isolation and loneliness, her very means of survival are threatened. HONEYLAND is a visually stunning human portrait that has something sweet for everyone
“The opening frames of Honeyland are so rustically sumptuous that you wonder, for a second, if they’ve somehow been art-directed. Elegantly dressed in a vivid ochre blouse and emerald headscarf, captured in long shot as she nimbly wends her way through a craggy but spectacular Balkan landscape, careworn middle-aged beekeeper Hatidze Muratova heads to check on her remote, hidden colony of bees — delicately extracting a dripping wedge of honeycomb the exact saturated shade as her outfit. With man and nature so exquisitely coordinated, it’s as if Hatidze herself has grown from the same rocky land, and in a sense, she has.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“The documentary Honeyland contains worlds in one beautiful, seemingly simple story. Its focus, Hatidze Muratova, lives in a tiny stone house in remote northern Macedonia with her octogenarian mother, a plucky dog, and an irregular number of cats. Her passion and apparent livelihood, though, are the wild bees she tends — keeping is too possessive — with hand flaps, vocalizations, and deep respect. The directors Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska don’t overexplain this world, its history or seemingly fragile present, including the origin of the chaotic, sprawling family who soon moves in and begins taking over the bees. The family’s at times infuriating disruptions (animal lovers beware) turn this quiet, moving observational documentary into a heart-skipping thriller as well as a perfect encapsulation of humanity’s catastrophic domination of nature.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
Screens Friday, April 19 and Saturday, April 20. Directors Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov are expected to attend all screenings.
The links with the name of each film takes to to the place you can order tickets.