SAN FRANCISCO — New People, the nation’s only entertainment complex dedicated to Japanese popular culture, has announced a second film screening event to raise additional funds for Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief.
“The Taste of Tea,” director Katsuhito Ishii’s critically acclaimed and award-winning film about Japanese family life, will screen at New People, 1746 Post St. in San Francisco’s Japantown, on Sunday, April 17, at 3:30 p.m. Suggested donation is $10 or more per person.
Proceeds from the screening will be donated directly to the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, administered by Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California and the Japantown branch of Union Bank. More information on the screening and the work of this relief organization is available at www.newpeopleworld.com.
New People raised more than $5,000 for relief efforts with its screening of “Hula Girls” in March, just following the disaster. The heartwarming film is set in Fukushima Prefecture, site of the Daiichi nuclear power plant that was heavily damaged during the earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
“The Taste of Tea” is set in a rural town surrounded by the natural beauty of Tochigi, an area that was also heavily damaged by the earthquake. The film introduces audiences to the Harunos, a rather unconventional but happy and loving family. They live in a small town in the mountains, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own dramas, quirks and little problems.
As 8-year-old Sachiko (Maya Banno) tries to get rid of a giant version of herself who seems to pop up everywhere, her older brother Hajime (Takahiro Sato) privately wrestles with his love-struck heart. Meanwhile, their mother Yoshiko (Satomi Tezuka) is working hard, coming out of retirement as an animator, as her husband and professional hypnotist Nobuo (Tomokazu Miura) watches on with slight apprehension. Even Nobuo’s brother and successful manga artist Todoroki has his problems. Lastly there’s Grandpa, the most bizarre and perhaps the most perceptive of all, who continues to search for a better way to live life to the fullest.
“The Taste of Tea” has been called a surreal version of Ingmar Bergman’s “Fanny and Alexander,” and presents a heartwarming and visually rich homage to Japanese family life. The film had its international debut at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and won numerous awards at the 2004 Entrevues Film Festival, 2005 Montreal Fantasia Film Festival, 2005 New York Asian Film Festival, 2005 San Francisco Independent Film Festival and 2005 Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film.
The film is also available on DVD from New People Entertainment.