“East Side Sushi,” a new film from director Anthony Lucero, opens Friday, November 13 at Sundance Cinemas and the Ark Lodge Cinema.
Anthony Lucero will be present at the Friday shows at Sundance, with an additional special guest at the 7:10 show.
“East Side Sushi” introduces audiences to Juana, a Latina single-mother living in Oakland, California. An experienced and talented home cook, she discovers a whole new world of cuisine and culture when she takes a job as a prep cook at a Japanese restaurant. Juana secretly observes the chefs and begins to teach herself the fine art of sushi. With her creativity sparked, Juana’s re-ignited passion for food drives her to want more from her job and her life. But her goal of becoming a sushi chef is thwarted when she is deemed the “wrong” race and gender. Against all odds, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery, determined to not let anyone stop her from achieving her dream.
Audiences on Friday at Sundance will be joined by female sushi chef Mariah Kmitta, of Seattle’s Maneki Restaurant. Owner Hajime Sato will also be present.
Mariah and Hajime can speak at length about their own experiences and challenges in the restaurant industry. Mariah is one of the few female Caucasian sushi chefs in Seattle, and Hajime has been a firm defender of her talents in the kitchen.
Director Anthony Lucero will also host a Q&A on Saturday evening after the 7pm show at the Ark Lodge.
Says Lucero about writing a film that features a strong female fighting her way up the ranks of a commercial kitchen, “You make the films you want to see, right? Well, that was the idea behind ‘East Side Sushi.’ I told myself to either stop complaining about it or take action. I wanted to see more diversity on the big screen: more cultures, more religious backgrounds, more locations, more of everything. It’s this diversity that makes the United States so special, and I would like to see a reflection of that on the big screen.”
“East Side Sushi” is the winner of the audience award at six international film festivals, and it has also received the award for Best Screenplay at the Napa Valley Film Festival, as well as the Best of the Festival prize at the Heartland Film Festival.
About Anthony Lucero, Writer & Director
Born and raised in the inner-city of Oakland, California, Anthony Lucero enjoys making films that are multicultural, and draws inspiration from his observations of people from all walks of life. Lucero writes and directs films involving subjects ranging from comedic to deeply serious, including the 2007 documentary “Angels and Wheelchairs,” an intensely personal short film which won Best Drama/Documentary and the Grand Prize Award for Best Film at the Alice Independent Film Festival.
Lucero’s other award-winning projects include “San Francisco Is…” (2011) and “I Need My Mocha” (2005), which captured Best Short Film at the San Francisco International Latino Film Festival and was selected as one of the top short films on the IFC Channel. After receiving his B.A. in Film from San Francisco State University, Lucero worked as a commercial editor for several years with various clients, including Nike and Yahoo. Lucero then moved into the visual effects world working for companies such as Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic, which led him to work on blockbusters “Star Wars: Episode I & II,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Ironman,” “The Mummy” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”
Keeping a balance between more commercial films and projects with social commentary and a focus on community, Lucero has also worked as a cameraman and editor on documentaries such as the PBS series “Not In Our Town.” He is documenting the behind the scenes of the next Star Wars film, directed by J.J. Abrams. “East Side Sushi” is Lucero’s feature film directorial debut.