Eric Khoo’s film in culinary section of Berlin festival

Ramen Teh, by film-maker Eric Khoo (above), stars Japanese actor Takumi Saito and Singapore actress Beatrice Chien (both right).
Ramen Teh, by film-maker Eric Khoo, stars Japanese actor Takumi Saito and Singapore actress Beatrice Chien (both above).PHOTO: ZHAO WEI PICTURES
Ramen Teh, by film-maker Eric Khoo (above), stars Japanese actor Takumi Saito and Singapore actress Beatrice Chien (both right).
Ramen Teh, by film-maker Eric Khoo (above), stars Japanese actor Takumi Saito and Singapore actress Beatrice Chien.PHOTO: HBO ASIA

Home-grown film-maker Eric Khoo's latest feature, Ramen Teh, has been selected to be the closing film of the Culinary Cinema section at the Berlin International Film Festival next month.

Following the screening, a three-course menu inspired by the film will be served to moviegoers at the lavish pop-up restaurant Gropius Mirror at the festival.

The food will be prepared by acclaimed Vietnamese-German chef The Duc Ngo, who runs 10 restaurants in Berlin, including sushi restaurant Kuchi and Vietnamese eatery Madame Ngo.

Details of the new dishes are not yet available, but Khoo, 52, is certainly excited to taste them.

He tells The Straits Times: "I was told that chef Duc Ngo cried while he was watching Ramen Teh. I am looking forward to his creations very much as I'm a greedy foodie."

As the name suggests, the Culinary Cinema section, which is in its 12th edition this year, screens features, short films and documentaries that are themed around food.

Films that have previously shown at this section include Luca Guadagnino's I Am Love (2009) as well as acclaimed documentaries Food, Inc (2008) and Monsieur Mayonnaise (2016).

Khoo is pleased that his film will be shown at the festival.

 

"Berlin is nostalgic for me as my first feature Mee Pok Man (1995) had played there," he says.

Ramen Teh is about a Japanese ramen chef named Masato (played by Takumi Saito) who travels to the Lion City to find out more about his Singaporean mother, who died when he was 10 years old.

During the trip, he meets Miki (played by Seiko Matsuda), a Japanese food blogger who helps him track down his Singaporean relatives.

For Khoo, much of the fun of working on this film was getting to work with the cast. The hunky Saito, 36, is one of Japan's most popular idols, while elegant singer Matsuda, 55, is one of the biggest names in the Japanese pop music industry.

The director says: "I was introduced to Takumi some years back when I launched my animation film Tatsumi (2011) in Japan. He has a special aura.

"I have been a fan of Seiko since I was a teenager and working with her on this meaningful film was a dream come true."

In Singapore, Ramen Teh will get a theatrical release in March.

Although the film is themed around food, the film-maker says that it is about so much more.

"Ramen Teh is a film about acceptance, forgiveness and reconciliation. I think Takumi said it best. When production wrapped, he felt like the character he was playing, as he says, he found a new family in Singapore," he says.

"I really had an enjoyable time making the film, touched by the friendships that have been forged between the local team and the Japanese cast and crew.

"I hope the film will not only make the audience's stomachs growl, but also their hearts stir."

• Ramen Teh opens in Singapore on March 29.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2018, with the headline 'Eric Khoo's film to close culinary section of Berlin festival'. Print Edition | Subscribe