Clockwise from bottom left: ‘For Sama,’ ‘The Cave,’ ‘American Factory,’ ‘The Edge of Democracy,’ ‘Honeyland’
Many of you are no doubt rushing to catch up with your movie viewing in advance of Feb. 8’s annual Academy Awards. While “Best Picture” always draws the most attention and conjecture, this was a particularly great year for films in the documentary feature category, and they are well worth exploring. With Netflix, Amazon, HBO, PBS, and even the Obamas now in the documentary film production business, the number of quality offerings has grown dramatically, as have the ways to view them. Some show us worlds we’ve never imagined, while others offer us a deep dive into subjects that we may know only as headlines. There are also a number of excellent films that that didn’t make the final Academy cut. Here’s the list, along with my take on each. And unlike the directors considered for “Best Picture,” three out of five of the nominated documentaries were directed or co-directed by women.
I have always been intrigued by food and the role that it plays in our lives. As the noted food historian Ben Rogers says, “Food is, after language, the most important bearer of cultural identity”. I feel that what food signifies goes beyond that, it defines who we are and shapes the lives we lead. On top of that, I also think that food is a unifying force. It has the power to bring people together under the most mysterious circumstances. I started work on this project when a producer friend Yutaka Tachibana asked if we could work on something to celebrate 50 years of Japan and Singapore’s diplomatic relations. I felt that food would be a perfect vehicle as both countries are crazy about good food and because there are so many stories about food that have moved me. Hence we started to look into the food of each country that we could incorporate into the story. We settled upon two iconic dishes from each country, Bak Kut Teh and Ramen. Themes such as acceptance, forgiveness and reconciliation appear in the film. I want to celebrate relationships, not only amongst people but also between food and people. It is a reminder that more than just sustenance, food can warm our hearts and feed our souls.
Do you find ramen irresistible? Love Singapore hawker halls? Can’t get enough of Anthony Bourdain or Chef’s Table? Reread Proust with delight? Ramen Shop has you covered! Here is the taste of food as memory, family, connection, identity… and love.