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.
(updated April 21, 2019)The San Francisco Film Festival gave the Mel Novikoff Award to the great BBC series ARENA and its producer Anthony Wall.
The award is named after the much loved San Francisco art cinema owner whose Surf Theatre was legendary. Novikoff saw the potential of taking the run down and all-but-forgotten Castro Theatre and making it a true destination for movie lovers. The Award is given “to an individual or institution whose work has enhanced the film-going public’s appreciation of world cinema.”
On my first sweep through the SF Film catalogue, even trying to be slightly discriminating and not greedily inclusive, I came up with 54 different films and events that I wanted to see. Fat chance! I knew there’d be overlaps in screening times as well as distances between venues that would cut down that list, as well as life intervening in a festival that occurs tantalizingly in your hometown.
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.