Food as History & Changes
The final installment of a trilogy celebrating food as one man's attempt to reconcile his Vietnamese cultural roots with his present-day American life. In compiling this trilogy, the filmakers have created a rich fabric upon which to contemplate the roles of ritual, memory, immigra- tion, and illness in our every day lives. They have designed an inventive play between animation and documentary in recounting Kwan's journey to the United States from Vietnam, and telling the mythical tales of the Goddess of Chilies. Kwan & Iger explore the intersection of Vietnamese, Chinese and Jewish life. WOK may be the first film to combine Chinese-Vietnamese wedding with Klezmer music or to reveal the secret behind making Chinese latkes. The combination of prose and everyday conversation offers the viewers reflections on food, family, ritual, cinema, and the transitory nature of our own existence, as we "cling to memories, yet adapt to change."
In WOK IN PROGRESS, Kwan reveals how the memories contained in food are the key to rebuilding his life. This documentary explores cooking as both a science and an art---"where intuition, good recipes, and heat change raw ingredients into food." An infra- red camera reveals the hot patterns on the wok make for efficient heating systems. Kwan and Iger also draw parallels between cooking and film-making. Kwan explains, "my journey has been a work in progress. Making a film is like cooking...the director or chef follows a script or recipe combining raw materials into a program or a feast. For me, the shared enjoyment of food and of making films has been a bridge to other cultures."