“I love sushi” our conversation begins. US film director producer David Gelb has grown up with sushi, visiting Japan as a child on his father’s business trips. His mother is a chef and food writer, so perhaps its no wonder he’s so deeply interested in food. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is Gelb’s celebration of the mystique behind sushi, and the performance aspects of the sushi master. It’s also a story about how Sushi Master Jiro Ono, now 86 years old still strives daily for perfection, at his three star Michelin restaurant. At just 10 seats perhaps the smallest three star Michelin in the world.
While talking to David Gelb this morning in New York, he evoked pictures, tastes, smells of a culinary ideal that had me wanting to immediately hop a plane to Japan. “Sushi is as complicated as any national cuisine” he shared and then revered how Master Jiro Ono perfectly matches the rice to the fish. “You’re really tasting the essence that he has worked so hard to perfect. The rice is unlike any I’ve had here in the states. If a single piece of rice was to fall off the sushi you’d go after that one grain”. He describes how the harmony of rice, soy and wasabi elevates the pure soul of the fish.
Just the selection of the fish is a story in itself, as Gelb follows the older Ono son to Tsukiji fish market where every day he selects the absolute best fish from specialist suppliers.
And so Gelb says, he has tried in the more formal elements of the film, through the use of refined lenses for the cinematography, and the use of master composers, Bach Mozart and Tschaikovsky, in the music to reinforce this perception as food in its elevated form. In particular, the music of Phillip Glass was selected to express the repetitive nature of Jiro’s work, used as a metaphor for the building towards perfection through repetition. Each day Jiro looks to this same process to continual improve, and to move closer to an ethereal ideal of perfection.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi screened with standing ovations in Sydney during the 2011 Sydney Film Festival. As the surprise box office hit of the US spring, this glorious celebration of food and Japanese culture is back screening in Australia to a wider audience – from May 10 at the following cinemas:
The Chauvel Cinema, Paddington (Sydney)
Palace Centro (Brisbane)
NovaPalace Eastend (Adelaide)
Cinema Paradiso (Perth)
Greater Union Manuka (Canberra)
“BREATHTAKING, INSPIRATIONAL AND HUMBLING. Anyone passionate about craft, cooking and excellence should watch.”
– ERIC RIPERT, the acclaimed 3-star Michelin chef at New York’s Le Bernardin
“THRILLING AND BEAUTIFUL. Maddeningly delicious looking.”
– ANTHONY BOURDAIN, writer of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.
“★★★★★ A DOC SO DELICIOUS YOU COULD EAT IT.”
– Keith Uhlich, TIME OUT NEW YORK
“MOUTHWATERING An intrinsically compelling hymn to craftsmanship and taste in every sense.”
– Leslie Felperein, VARIETY
“CINEMATOGRAPHY AS LUSH AS THE TUNA BELLY”
– Betty Hallock, LOS ANGELES TIMES
“MAKE SURE YOU’VE ALREADY STAKED OUT THE NEAREST SUSHI PLACE. By the time the lights go up you’ll be ravenous.”
– Daniel Walber, INDIEWIRE