Featured Image courtesy of Japan Cuts Hollywood.

The inaugural year of Japan Cuts Hollywood, presented by the Japan America Society of Southern California (JASSC) and Japan House Los Angeles, opened its weekend of films with Director Renpei Tsukamoto’s 2019 movie “Bento Harassment”.

Kaori’s husband passed away 12 years ago, leaving her to raise their two daughters by herself. While her oldest Wakaba moved out, she still has to take care of Futaba who began high school. Communication between Futaba and Kaori mostly existed in their texts since the teenager didn’t like interacting with her mother. Wanting to reach out to her and mad how she is continuously ignored, Kaori received sudden inspiration to leave messages in the bentos she made. The first cutely decorated meal gave Futaba a shock and unwanted attention from her classmates. The crowd grew as Kaori created more elaborate designs but Futaba stayed mostly how she was. It was only time until things reached a boiling point between the two.

“Bento Harassment” was a very entertaining movie filled with comedy and drama. Actress Ryoko Shinohara put on an amazing performance as Kaori, emanating the pep she had but also the strain she suffered in order to provide for her family. The film had a lot of bright colors and funny inserts in the beginning but they made way for the meat of it in the form of Kaori and Futaba’s relationship. Both parents and children along with others who give and/or receive care may relate to either character’s story. For western viewers, it gave insight in Japanese daily life including little features on the location, Hachijo Island. It overall was an appetizing film that would give any audience regardless of culture a satisfying fill of a heartwarming story.

Both director Renpei Tsukamoto and actress Ryoko Shinohara attended opening night and participated in a post-screening Q&A. When asked about their favorite part of the film, Shinohara said that the reveal scene of the Sadako charaben (character bento) was hers since it “took a lot of practice.” She later mentioned that she made the bentos and also offered to do a demonstration but proper arrangements could not be made for the night. Tsukamoto spoke about his thoughts regarding his film being shown in Hollywood, saying he was happy and honored because he was a fan of the place and industry since he was very young.

For those that missed their chance of seeing “Bento Harassment”, those on the East Coast can check out the New York International Children’s Film Festival. The movie will be part of its lineup of all-ages Japanese films that will be showing starting on February 21st. Member pre-sales will start on January 15th then the public will be able to purchase theirs on January 22nd. For more information, check out NYICFF’s website.

Head to Japan Cuts Hollywood’s site for more about their festival and also visit the webpage for the original NY event.