The Japanese Film Festival takes on a culinary theme this year with seven films involving food or cooking.
Abbreviated to just three days, the festival runs from February 15 to 17 at SF Cinema City Terminal 21. Tickets are free and will be handed out 30 minutes before showtime. You'll want to give yourself ample time to queue up in front of the festival table in the cinema lobby to ensure you get a decent seat.
The Japanese Foundation has regular screenings of Japanese films all year 'round, but they are generally only subtitled in Thai. So the Japanese Film Festival is one of the few times each year Japanese films are screened in an English-friendly manner.
Here's the line-up:
- Eclair – Akio Kondo directs this wartime childhood drama, which is based an autobiographical novel by Shigeru Nishimura. It follows the orphan Akio as he's sent to reform school after he's caught stealing sweets. There, he is disciplined by a strict teacher called the "White Satan". Later, he's adopted by a single woman, but has to perform soul-crushing labor for her. So he escapes again, and joins a touring theater troupe as the reality of war takes hold. Registration and ticket distribution starts at 6.30, with opening ceremony at 7. Show time is at 8pm.
- Kamome Diner – A young Japanese woman opens a Japanese restaurant in Helsinki and struggles at first, but soon attracts an electic group of customers and co-workers. 2pm.
- The Chef of South Polar – Here's another film based on an autobiography, this one about Jun Nishimura, a cook who joined the research expedition living at Dome Fuji Station near the South Pole. Under hard, -54 degree Celsius tempertures in the middle of nowhere, he managed to cook extravagant gourmet meals. 4.30pm.
- Patisserie Coin De Rue – A young woman turns up at a Tokyo pastry shop looking for her boyfriend, who was a chef there. He's gone, so she asks to stay on as an apprentice chef while she searches for him. Hanging aroung is another pastry chef who was legendary, but mysteriously left the business. 7pm.
- Rinco's Restaurant – After a bad breakup with her boyfriend, a young woman returns to her hometown and moves back in with her mother. She opens a small restaurant where she has no menu and only takes one reservation a day, putting all her effort into preparing one grand meal. 2pm.
- Udon – A young man, having failed as a comedian in the big city, returns home and takes on a job as reviewer of noodle shops, and runs into conflict with his stubborn udon-chef father. 4.30pm.
- A Boy and His Samurai – A samurai (Ryo Nishikido) somehow time travels from the Edo period to the present day, and settles down with a single mother and her 6-year-old boy. Showing them he has a knack for making desserts, the samurai eventually becomes a popular pastry chef. 7pm.