Six food films at the Hawaii International Film Festival 2013

In 2010 and 2011, the Hawaii International Film Festival selected four food-focused films. In 2011, there were six (albeit heavy on the politics of food). This year, the festival kicked off with a food film—the South Korean-Chinese co-production Final Recipe, a romantic melodrama that revolves around a culinary competition—and has six more that you can feast your eyes on. If you have time for only one in your busy schedule, make it Spinning Plates.

Japanese directors are masters of samurai period films (duh) and foodcentric movies (Tampopo, Udon, The Antarctic Cook). This year HIFF screens what may be the first blending of the two genres: A Tale of Samurai Cooking: A True Love Story. Yasunobu is part of the Funaki family—the culinary clan of Kaga domain, an area known for its high-grade ingredients and cuisine in real life. But the heir to the family talent just doesn’t have the knack. So he marries a woman who does, and she and her mother teach him how to be a dashi darling.
Oct 14 at 6:15pm, Oct 16 at 3:15pm.

Spanish filmmaker Roger Gaul takes a cue from the closing of Ferran Adria’s El Bulli in Tasting Menu, about the last night of a famed Spanish three-Michelin-starred restaurant. Serious food cinematography meets Euro romcom. Delicious.
Oct 15 at 8:30pm, Oct 19 at 6:30pm.

If you’re like me and still mourning the loss of Taishoken Ramen on Keeeaumoku Street, you can get an eyeful of the Tokyo mothership in The God of Ramen, a documentary about noodle giant (and plastic-bag hoarder) Kazuo Yamagishi and his ramen shop, which closed in 2007, due to redevelopment of the neighborhood and failing health. Over 10 years, director Takashi Innami documents the big-bellied, silver-haired man, as he makes his pork-rich broth, has a stint in the hospital, and watches past apprentices open their own places and get rich using the Taishoken name without having to pay franchise fees (I think the Honolulu location was of this ilk). People stood in line for two hours for a bowl of Yamigishi’s ramen. One regular, when asked what makes the ramen so good, says, “The old man. It’s practically a religion. If the old man says it’s good, we believe it’s good.” Unlike the artfully shot Jiro Dreams of Sushi, about another Japanese culinary icon, The God of Ramen is a workmanlike production, with often florid music, but it doesn’t detract from this moving profile.
Oct 15 at 6:15pm, Oct 17 at 1pm, Oct 19 at 5pm, Oct 26 at 11:30am, Oct 28 at 5pm.

Did you like Bend it Like Beckham? Reimagine it as a film about two Indian brothers with rival curry houses in Leicester, England. Jadoo stars a who’s who of British-Asian actors, including the grande dame of Indian cookery books, Madhur Jaffrey.
Oct 16 at 7:15pm, Oct 18 at 1pm

Zone Pro Site: The Moveable Feast uses a bygone Taiwanese food tradition—the outdoor banquet known as bandoh—as a jumping-off point to create a romantic comedy that wound up being Taiwan’s highest-grossing film of the year.
Oct 17 at 6pm

The restaurant world is ripe for mining, and for Spinning Plates, director Joseph Levy digs deep to reveal three riveting personal stories from three wildly different eateries. He illustrates just how complex and rich the food world is, running from art to basic survival and nourishment at Chicago’s three-Michelin-starred Alinea, the all-American comfort food joint Breitbach’s Country Dining in Iowa, and the Mexican home-cooking spot La Cocina de Gabby in Tuscon. Plus you get the inside story of star Chicago chef Grant Achatz’s battle with, of all things, tongue cancer. Bonus: You get to see it in the Hawaii Theatre.
Oct 21 at 7:30pm 

Schedule and tickets: