Oishii Nippon!

I’ve always looked forward to Japan Foundation’s Eiga Sai, but this year’s festival sounds more fun than ever because of the theme: food!

WASHOKUBEYONDSUSHIOne thing I can say about the Japanese is that they do food porn like nobody’s business. It’s one thing that they do close-up shots of food really very well–so well, that you can almost smell a bowl of ramen as they capture the heat rising from it, or imagine reaching out to touch nigiri sushi when they present it, all pretty and lined up on a clean dish, or just fawn over the sight of flower-shaped wagashi. And then of course, everyone knows how meticulous the Japanese are when it comes to presentation, even if the plating is very simple.

So, I don’t think I can resist documentaries like “The God of Ramen,” about a ramen master who even schooled people who wanted to open their own ramen shops. Or “Wa-shoku,” which shows how Japanese chefs go through all that trouble to make such delicate sushi, sashimi, noodles, and other traditional dishes. No, I can’t and I won’t. It’ll probably make me want to go to a Japanese restaurant afterwards, though…

At the press con, we got to see the trailer for “The God of Ramen” and right then and there you could tell it was amazing and emotional, especially after they told us that the god of ramen Kazuo Yamagashi died just last year. You can check it out here:

Some of the feature films are also about food, of course, like “A Tale of Samurai Cooking“, about a young girl who marries into the Kaga clan, starring Ueto Aya. I’ve never seen her in anything but a 24-hour television special back in 2012 and a variety show. A more familiar name would have to be Aoi Yu, who stars in “Patisserie Con de Rue” as a patissier whose work is always put down by a critic played by Eguchi Yosuke (Oda Nobunaga in NHK’s “Gunshi Kanbee”!!! Aaaaah). Somehow, the films that Aoi stars in always make it to Eiga Sai–the last one I remember was “About Her Brother” a couple of years ago.

It’s a Beautiful Life: Irodori“, a film about senior citizens who start a food garnish business in Tokushima Prefecture, completes the food-inspired lineup.

They all look really good and I’m really looking forward to seeing “Samurai Cooking” because of a friend’s recommendation, but I think I’ll never get over this film that I watched at the festival a few years back:

I swear this movie made me cry buckets, it was embarrassing.

Anyway, another film that I’m looking forward to watching is “Wood Job!” (yes…suggestive, haha), a coming-of-age story based on Miura Shion’s novel “Kamusari naa naa Nichijo”. It’s about a city boy played by Sometani Shota, who decides to study forestry in the mountain village of Kamusari. They also showed us the trailer at the press con, and it really, really looks hilarious:

I still have to look at the rest of the films, and “Our Family” directed by Ishii Yuya (who will be coming for a talk on July 11) looks particularly interesting, but the problem, as always, is time! There’s never enough time to watch all the films I want to, unless I take a leave from work. Tsk.

Anyway, these Japanese movies will be shown at the Shang Cineplex Cinema 2 from July 10 to July 19, and yay, tickets are for free! You have to line up about an hour before the film starts, so I suggest going early. It’s usually worth it.

Japan Foundation Manila has a flyer of the schedule here.

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