Upon entering the historic Napa Valley Opera House of 1880, a venue which strives to deliver the highest-end of culinary, cultural and theatrical experiences to those just as passionate as founder Michael Dorf of City Winery. Film and wine took center stage Saturday, November 15th with an intimate film screening of “East Side Sushi” a cultural fusion which illustrates the combination of restaurant politics and cultural dynamics. Before the screening, I found the verbal embrace of conversing with Oakland native, Anthony Lucero director of “East Side Sushi” enlightening yet intriguing. As I listened to his interpretation, I grasped his insight of the film industry to be informative.
Illuminated by an intimate glow of candlelight during the pre-screening of the night’s feature, I had the opportunity to speak with Julie Rubio, Film producer of “East Side Sushi”. Following through life with such an air of determination and desire, Rubio has accomplished what most individuals only envision. With a glimmering eye she expresses the empowerment she presents while she seamlessly blends culture and culinary, “East Side Sushi is an empowering film for anyone that has ever had what seems to be an unattainable dream. It’s a powerful role model for women and more importantly little girls.” With her radiant smile which pierces through with each word she spoke, she pushes her fingers through her hair that rest upon her Veronica M patterned maxi dress. She continues by stating, “It’s a beautiful reminder that hard work and dedication can make one’s dream become a reality. Realizing that you hold the power to make things happen in your life no matter your culture, gender, family or even yourself, East Side Sushi is an amazing story of one woman’s dream to break through her own culture expectations, and those around her.” Having worked in an industry that is, and has been, primarily ran by men for over 25 years, Rubio pushed through with her dreams to become a writer, director and producer. With producing this film she has helped make her personal dreams come true.While tonight’s feature film screening during the Napa Valley Film Festival, Rubio and Lucero have already gained audience awards from Cinquest, Center for Asian American Media (CAAMfest) and Naples, Florida Film Festivals. Perhaps it’s from the origin of the film showcasing a single mother, Juana played by Diana Elizabeth Torres. With the speed and precision from working at a fruit-vending cart for several years, she decides to take employment at a local Japanese restaurant. With a growing appetite to learn the art she begins to create a multitude of sushi independently. Embarking on a journey of self-discovery, Juana breaks against all odds as she attempts to fulfill her desire to become a sushi chef. The realistic challenges that transpire during her journey can be viewed by a large demographic of women as motivating, producing a realistic look at the evolving shift of how women are perceived in a multicultural world of food.
Five Days, Twelve Screening Venues, One hundred and twenty five Films, Three hundred Filmmakers, Fifty Chefs and one hundred and fifty Wineries can best describe the cinematic experience one will experience during the Napa Wine Festival. From the exhibition of film this world- class festival provides educational programs and filming that have become an outreach to theatrical viewers and communities alike.