SWEET BEAN (AN)
SWEET BEAN, or AN in its native Japanese, is the latest film by Naomi Kawase. She crafts the heartwarming but subtle story of Sentaro, a man who runs a small bakery that serves dorayaki, or fruit–filled pancakes and Tokue, an older woman looking for work. At first Sentaro thinks Tokue is too frail for the job, but he hires her anyway out of pity. Once they start using her homemade an filling, however, business booms. Wakana, a teenage girl and regular customer of the shop, rounds out the trio of generations in this charming film, and helps bring the sweet yet complex relationships into focus. The film takes its time, paying attention to the process of making an, as well as the surrounding environment during the changing seasons. When more is revealed about Sentaro's and Tokue's pasts, the course of these characters' lives is changed forever. — April Wright
Born in Nara, Japan, in 1969, Naomi Kawase is a world-renowned and prolific filmmaker of both documentaries and narrative features. Her films include Cannes Film Festival competition premieres THE MOURNING FOREST, HANEZU and STILL THE WATER. SWEET BEAN premiered this year in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard lineup.