Friday, 22 September 2017

Eigasai Japanese Film Festival: Sweet Bean (An)

Fortunately for me, the local news carried a clip of its opening day at a local cinema. That got me interested. With a boring Hollywood film showing that week alongside some Filipino films I found corny, these very fine Japanese films courtesy of the EIGASAI, the annual Japanese film festival in the Philippines organized by the Japan Foundation in Manila, provided me my best cinema experience that week.

As I scrolled down the list of Japanese movies on their list, I zeroed in on the Saturday time slot, and was curious about the 4PM movie: Sweet Bean (An).

'An' is the Japanese word for sweet beans, and sweet beans are the ingredients of my favorite snacks in Seoul: patpingsu (red beans in shaved iced) and patpang (red bean bread). So what better way to enjoy the weekend than watching a Japanese film that features my favorite snack!

When I got to the SM Cinema in Bacolod City, the queue was already long, and they only had 300 seats available. My fellow Bacolodnons only waited for about 30 minutes before we were allowed in.

     (My pasta lunch in the mall before the movie)

(The long line for the Sweet Bean movie screening)

Sweet Bean is a story of how a middle-aged man struggling in his sweet bean bread business as well as in his miserable life learned both about life and a few culinary lessons from an old woman, who was discriminated by neighbors and society because she had leprosy.

Although the plot seemed simple, it was the dialogue that made me love this film. And with the help of the English translation of the Japanese actors' words, I sensed the soul of the film. Bravo to the translators!

Bravo, too, to the main actors, Kirin Kiki, playing the old woman, and Masatoshe Nagase, playing the middle-aged man. This is what I love about Japanese actors. Just like their minimalist homes, their acting is about 'less is more'

And if you like cherry blossoms, you will love the scenes where the trees are abloom with the dainty petals decorating the streets and alleys of their neighborhood in Japan. It made me wonder where in Japan was the setting of the movie. 

Sweet Bean is both a culinary lesson and an existential reminder for me. 

The process on how sweet bean paste as shown by Kirin's character made me appreciate the effort put into making the paste made of beans that have seen the four seasons, and before they are turned into one of my favorite snacks (in Korea).

And the lines, especially those spoken by Kirin's character, reminded me that we all should live in the moment and appreciate the good things, however small.

And in case you have the chance to watch Sweet Bean, make sure you read the English subtitles carefully. Those words will not only make you appreciate the movie; they'll also make you appreciate your life.

Again, thank you to Eigasai!


  1. I am enjoying your blog entries.
    Are you going back to Seoul anytime soon ?

  2. Yes, as soon as there's peace. :-)