CAAMFest Daily Blog – Wednesday, March 19, 2014

by | March 19, 2014 at 7:05 PM | Caam Fest, Cinema Asian America, XFINITY ASIA

Masahiro Sugano, director of “Cambodian Son,” accepts the CAAMFest 2014 Documentary Competition Award on Sunday, March 16, 2014. (Photo by Leanne Koh.)

CAAMFest 2014 Award Winners

By Momo Chang, Wednesday, March 19, 2014

From socially-charged documentaries to quirky coming-of-age narratives, CAAMFest is thrilled to announce the award winners of this year’s festival.

The Comcast Narrative Award goes to “Farah Goes Bang,” directed by Meera Menon. The Documentary Award goes to “Cambodian Son,” directed by Masahiro Sugano. The Remy Martin Filmmaker Award goes to “Ilo Ilo,” directed by Anthony Chen. The Loni Ding Award for Social Issue Documentary goes to “Why We Rise,” directed by Brian Redondo & Corinne Manabat. The APCA Student Film Award goes to “Lan Yan,” directed by Danielle Schmidt and “Grand Canal” by Johnny Ma. Congratulations to all of our festival winners so far! We will announce the Audience Award winner after the festival. Check back at CAAMFest.com.

Originally posted at CAAMFest (http://caamfest.com/2014/caamfest-2014-award-winners/).

“East Side Sushi”—An Underdog Story

By Ashlyn Perri, Wednesday, March 19, 2014

While eating at a diner one day, Director Anthony Lucero saw the Latino dishwasher in the back and wondered, “What does he want to do with his life? What does he aspire to be?” Thus came the inspiration for his directorial debut, “East Side Sushi,” which follows Juana Martinez (Dianna Torres), a single mother working to support her aging father and young daughter. After being robbed at her family’s fruit stand, Juana gets a job at a local Japanese restaurant. Her growing passion for sushi and her talent in the kitchen do not go unnoticed by Aki (Yutaka Takeuchi), the lead sushi chef. However, she is met with opposition by the restaurant owner as she does not meet the traditional expectations of a sushi chef. To prove her worth, she enters a sushi making competition, where she showcases her signature roll: the Green Diablo Roll. This bittersweet film, a Bay Area local production, explores the very real notion of food authenticity through the lens of gender and race.

“East Side Sushi” director (left) Anthony Lucero with actors Dianna Torres and Yutaka Takeuchi. (Photo: Michael Jeong Photography.)

I sat down with Lucero during CAAMFest 2014 to talk about the making of the Green Diablo Roll and why he believes this story is important.

How did you come up with the Green Diablo Roll?

AL: I was trying to think how could we wrap sushi without using the nori. I saw a poblano pepper and was like maybe. So I wrote [in the screenplay] that she wraps [the sushi] in the poblano pepper. I didn’t even know if that was possible. When I gave [the screenplay] to Tomoharu (Nakamura)—the sushi chef consultant on the film—to look at, I wasn’t sure if he would understand. He calls me up one day and he’s like, “Come to the restaurant, I want to show you the competition food.” So I go to Tomoharu’s restaurant [and] he does the Green Diablo Roll! I was like, “Is that a roasted poblano?” I was freaking out. He totally shocked me! He said it was very difficult to make the Green Diablo Roll, to actually get the pepper just flat and straight. You have to peel off the skin and just roll it perfectly.
Why are people so interested in this story?

AL: A lot of people can relate to Juana. I think all the characters are relatable but I think it’s an underdog story and people love underdogs. I think if you’re male or female, old or young you can relate to Juana and her struggle.

Catch “East Side Sushi” this Thursday, March 20 at 9 pm at New People Cinema in San Francisco’s Japantown and two encore presentations Saturday and Sunday at the New Parkway Theater in Oakland, CA at 5:30 pm and 12:30 pm, respectively.