Six documentaries and a fiction feature will compete for the Tokyo Gohan Award in the 2016 Culinary Zinema section, combining cinema and gastronomy, of the San Sebastian International Film Festival.
The section opens with Theater of Life, looking at the experience of the Refettorio Ambrosiano, the soup kitchen run at Milan’s 2015 World’s Fair by Massimo Bottura -also the leading figure last year of one of the documentaries in Culinary Zinema, Chef’s Table “Massimo Bottura”- where more than 40 of the world’s most famous chefs prepared meals using nothing but the wastage of the event’s pavilions. The Canadian filmmaker Peter Svatek, who has delved with his films into subjects as widely ranging as mixed martial arts or the stolen children of Argentina, signs this work.
Filmmaking twosome Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat, whose latest work, El ciudadano ilustre (The Distinguished Citizen) will compete for the Golden Lion in Venice, will precisely explore in Todo sobre el asado the subject promised in its title, translating as ‘everything about grilling’: a voyage to a kind of food and a ritual that portrays an essential part of Argentinian identity. To narrate the story, Cohn and Duprat have adopted a point of view alternating between witticism and irreverence.
In Bugs we take a look at the future of food, at least from the perspective of René Redzepi’s Nordic Food Lab. In this Danish production, selected for festivals including Tribeca and Edinburgh, Andreas Johnsen follows two chefs from the experimental laboratory as they investigate the insects eaten round the world.
Baja Taste also connects to posterity, although somewhat closer. This documentary, directed by the Mexican filmmaker Roberto Nájera, turns the spotlight on the new Mexican cuisine coming out of Baja California, analysing the gastronomic phenomenon through four chefs.
Mitsuhito Shirada’s third movie, Mama, gohan mada? / What’s for Dinner, Mom?, is based on the novel by the writer and actress Tae Hitoto, in which a woman starts reconstructing the life of her mother, who emigrated from Japan to Taiwan, on discovering a box of letters and recipes in the old family home.
Luis González, co-director of Cooking up a Tribute, selected last year for Culinary Zinema, looks in The Turkish Way at how the Roca brothers set about learning the basics of Turkish cuisine, one of the least known, vigorous and oldest gastronomies on the planet.
The closing film will transfer the audience to the biggest fish and seafood market in the world. Naotaro Endo, author of the award-winning independent film Guzen no tsutsuki, directs Tsukiji Wonderland, a documentary about Tsukiji Market, standing in the centre of Tokyo for the last 80 years. Fish and seafood from this market are the ingredients used for traditional Japanese cuisine going by the name of ‘washoku’.
Rounding off the cinematic experience, as in other years, are dinners related to the content of the films screened. A team of teacher-chefs of Basque Culinary Center who took part in Refettorio Ambrosiano will prepare the opening gala dinner. Joxean Eizmendi, from the Asador Illara, will work with the Todo sobre el asado film crew; and Turkish chef Mehmet Gürs will throw a banquet based on his country’s traditional products. Cheung Yat Sing, head of the Michelin-star Tim Ho Wan restaurant chain in Hong Kong, will work with the chef at the Ni Neu, Mikel Gallo, to prepare a menu following the family recipes of Taiwan as seen in Mama, Gohan Mada? / What’s for Dinner, Mom? The restauranteur living in Tijuana, Javier Plascencia, will devise the menu linked to Baja Taste; the Sardinian chef Roberto Flore, now at the head of the Nordic Food Lab, will create a dinner taking its inspiration from Bugs; and, lastly, the closing gala dinner by Ricardo Sanz, creator of the so-called Kabuki cuisine, will focus on the Japanese-Mediterranean cookbook. With the exception of the dinners served at the Illara and in the ni neu, all other meals will be hosted by the Basque Culinary Center.
2016 Culinary Zinema Lineup
THEATER OF LIFE
PETER SVATEK (CANADA)
OPENING NIGHT FILM
During Milan’s World Fair on “feeding the planet,” the world’s greatest chefs will transform the Expo’s food waste into meals for the poor and homeless.
TODO SOBRE EL ASADO
MARIANO COHN, GASTÓN DUPRAT (ARGENTINA – SPAIN)
Todo sobre el asado is a journey into deepest Argentina. Grilled meat is a food and a ritual. It is primitive and contemporary, wild and refined, an art and a science. Few phenomena reveal with greater originality and precision the essential traits of a national identity. For the first time a film makes its take on this almost holy tradition from a sharp and irreverent angle.
THE TURKISH WAY
LUIS GONZÁLEZ (SPAIN)
The Turkish Way narrates, travelogue style, the experiences of the three Roca siblings in Turkey as they learn about one of the least known, strongest and oldest gastronomies on the planet.
MAMA, GOHAN MADA? / WHAT’S FOR DINNER, MOM?
MITSUHITO SHIRAHA (JAPAN)
Two sisters Tae and Yo come back to their old house which is soon to be torn down. Clearing up the family mementos, Tae finds a red box full of recipes and letters written by their mother who died 20 years ago. In these recipes and letters, she finds out how her mother had struggled in her life by relocation from Japan to Taiwan, the death of her Taiwanese husband, and a battle with cancer. Tae travels to Taiwan to trace back the mother’s past reminiscing about the dishes she made for the family.
ROBERTO NÁJERA (MEXICO)
Documentary narrating the creative origins of the four chefs who have cultivated and developed the unique Baja California cuisine currently enjoying international recognition. The film journeys through the mind and soul of each chef, exploring the source of their inspiration to spawn a Mexican nouvelle cuisine which is rapidly becoming a worldwide gastronomic phenomenon.
ANDREAS JOHNSEN (DENMARK)
Ben and Josh, two charismatic young chefs from René Redzepi’s experimental Nordic Food Lab, investigate around the world how insects are eaten – said to be the future of food.
NAOTARO ENDO (JAPAN)
CLOSING NIGHT FILM
Tsukiji is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. It was built some 80 years ago in central Tokyo and has continued to fascinate people throughout its rich history. Fish and seafood from Tsukiji form the core of washoku, the traditional Japanese cuisine listed by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2012. The film shows the passion of those who work in Tsukiji and the essence of traditional Japanese cuisine.