Food on Film: Choice cuts at HIFF

Photo: Courtesy HIFF

Over the past few years, the Hawaii International Film Festival has been carefully curating its selection of food-related films (director of programming Anderson Le is an epicure and brother of The Pig and the Lady chef Andrew Le). This year there are four choices to sate your cinematic and culinary hunger.

I’ve already bought tickets for Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a moving documentary about chef Jiro Ono, the 85-year-old artist of the three-star Michelin restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro. Director David Gelb was also the cinematographer and his gorgeous shots of Oro nimbly slicing glistening flesh and shaping perfect nigiri pods are akin to watching a priest perform mass. Watching this Japanese Living Treasure at work and speaking so poetically about his craft may make it hard to appreciate your favorite local sushi spot forever more. Oct. 22 and 23.

The other three selections are narrative features that take you on food-laden journeys in countries famed for their cuisine: Spain, China, Singapore and Taiwan.

18 Comidas (18 Meals) tells stories of human relationships that play out over eating. From family disputes to budding romances, they’re all framed by breakfast, lunch or dinner in the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela. Oct. 18 and 23.

You get three short films in Breakfast Lunch Dinner. As in 18 Comidas, filmmakers Wang Jing from China, Anocha Suwichakornpong from Thailand and Kaz Cai from Singapore use mealtime to tell personal stories. Oct. 19 and 22.

Then dive into the street food scene of Taipei with Night Market Hero. This drama injected with humor takes as its backdrop the famed 888 Night Market, packed with food stalls filled with steaming pots and sizzling woks. As in so many films, the conflict centers on gentrification—a developer buys the market site and the food vendors band together to protect their delicious way of life. Oct. 18 and 23.

HIFF is a great way to vicariously eat your way around the world. The festival runs Oct. 13 to 23 at Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18.