Another tale in which food plays a prominent role, Nakajima Ryo’s film from Kadokawa-cho in Miyazaki prefecture is the story of two brothers who run the local bento restaurant. When their elderly chef is hospitalised, Takuma and Azuma call upon their old classmate Yuna to help them. Yuna has spent many years in Tokyo, and struggles to adapt to the slow pace of small-town life. But as the community rallies ahead of the Danjiri Festival, and rival factions within the town begin facing off against each other, Yuna comes to recognise the hidden values and treasures in Kadokawa.
Full of humour and heart, Umisuzu Meshi was possibly the most accomplished piece of Japanese film-making I saw at the festival. It’s beautiful quayside setting, quirky characters and light but unashamedly earnest tone came together perfectly in celebration of a community in love with its food and traditions. On the basis of this simple yet effective short, I cannot wait to see more of what Nakajima Ryo has to offer.