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Chinese film is a departure for Takita

Oscar-winning Japanese director cooks up an emotional tale with Silence of Smoke, Xu Fan reports.

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-13 08:21

Zhang Guoli as the father Liu Tingshen.[Photo provided to China Daily]

On an unseasonably warm October afternoon, Japanese director Yojiro Takita was being interviewed in a hotel in the Wangjing area of Beijing as part of a tightly packed schedule. Just a few hours later, his first Chinese film, Silence of Smoke, was due to premiere.

Takita attributes the opportunity to make the Chinese language film in China to his surprise 2009 Oscar win for Best Foreign Language Film with Departures.

The new movie, adapted from a novella by Dalian-born writer Xin You, was released in domestic theaters on Nov 3.

The tale centers on an experienced pastry baker and his adult son who live in a small town in southern China, played respectively by actors Zhang Guoli and Han Geng.

As the guardian of a cherished family recipe that has been handed down through seven generations, the dedicated baker follows a disciplined routine — rising early in the morning, preparing the ingredients, and meticulously making just two trays of bingjinggao, a delectable rice cake enveloped in a honey-infused coating that appears translucent and enticing.

Despite the long queue outside his store, the baker stubbornly refuses to bake more cakes to increase their income. He even urges his son to leave and locks the door when they reach a crucial stage in the production process. Hurt and angry, the son eventually finds a job at a film and television production studio in another city, gets married, and has a daughter. Years later, after the father's passing, the son uncovers a heart-wrenching secret that explains his father's stubbornness and indifference.

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