TOKYO • Slurp up this documentary if you wish to know why Japanese individuals are hooked on ramen.
Ramen Heads, which goals to supply global audiences a tasty perception into the eagerness behind this cheap dish, was screened at movie festivals in seven international locations previous to its Japan premiere late final month.
The present was cooked up when producer Arata Oshima watched Jiro Dreams Of Sushi, a documentary made by an American director that adopted Jiro Ono, who runs a Tokyo sushi restaurant that has earned three Michelin stars.
“I found it frustrating that a non-Japanese director had to produce a film on Japanese food culture,” Oshima, 48, recalled. “However, high-end sushi is not one thing abnormal folks can afford to take pleasure in.
“I believe ramen is part of authentic Japanese food culture.”
Koki Shigeno, 52, who directed Ramen Heads, has made TV programmes that includes cooks, however had by no means labored on a movie for cinema.
“Many customers line up for hours just to eat a bowl of ramen, while chefs pursue the best of the best, like seekers looking for the truth. I think these phenomena are very interesting,” he stated.
“I was curious to know how people overseas would feel about it.”
Ramen Heads focuses on Osamu Tomita, 39, proprietor and chef of ramen store Chukasoba Tomita – dubbed top-of-the-line in Japan – in Matsudo, Chiba prefecture.
The manufacturing staff adopted him for greater than a 12 months and likewise visited different eateries.
Shigeno found it stunning that Tomita dines at different ramen retailers along with his household on his days off.
“It’s not for research. He just likes the noodles,” the director stated.
The documentary has been proven at movie festivals in 10 cities within the Netherlands, the United States, Norway and 4 different international locations.
Shigeno and Tomita attended two of the occasions: Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto and San Sebastian International Film Festival in Spain.
At the Canadian event, the movie was proven at a theatre with 300 seats. All 4 screenings bought out.
A scene within the documentary exhibiting diners slurping their ramen prompted some members of the viewers to cowl their ears with their fingers, however when comparable scenes have been proven later, those self same fingers broke into applause.
“I intentionally put focus on those slurping scenes as I am aware that this way of eating can be offensive to some foreign viewers,” Shigeno stated.
“However, I didn’t expect audiences would ultimately applaud.”
In Spain, the movie drew so many viewers that competition organisers added further screenings.
Tomita additionally created a set meal that included ramen and another dishes utilizing native elements.
“I didn’t see any ramen shops in San Sebastian so I thought it was the first time locals were eating the noodles,” the chef stated.
“I was glad to find delicious dishes can be recognised as tasty no matter where you are. I hope viewers understand what’s behind the delicious ramen we serve: namely, our passion for preparation, choosing ingredients and hospitality towards diners,” he added.
Ramen Heads is scheduled to display in additional than 10 US cities, together with New York and Los Angeles, from subsequent month to April.
“We’ll kick off in the United States and hope to show it in Europe too,” Oshima stated.
In addition to Ramen Heads, extra ramen-themed movies will probably be dished out this 12 months.
One is tentatively titled Ramen Teh, a Japanese, French and Singaporean joint manufacturing directed by Singaporean film-maker Eric Khoo.
Among the earliest movies about ramen, Tampopo (1985) is essentially the most notable. Directed by Juzo Itami, it stars Tsutomu Yamazaki as a person who tries to revive a store.