(director/writer: Anthony Lucero; cinematographer: Marty Rosenberg; editor: Ansoni Hikari; music: Alex Mandel; cast: Diana Elizabeth Torres (Juana Martinez), Kaya Jade Aguirre (Lydia), Rodrigo Duarte Clark (Apa), Yutaka Takeuchi (Aki), Roji Oyama (Mr. Yoshida), Miyoko Sakatani (Mrs. Yoshida), Lane Nishikawa (Jimmy); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Julie Rubio/; Blue Sun Pictures; 2014-in English with Spanish and Japanese dialogue)

Digestible cross-cultural food film.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The directorial debut of Anthony Lucero is this digestible cross-cultural food film. It follows the feel-good formula of sports films of an underdog beating the odds to succeed in the end. Sympathetic performances by the leads keep it endearing. The story centers around a Mexican woman’s struggle to make a better life for herself by becoming a sushi chef. The hardworking Juana (Diana Elizabeth Torres) works part-time at her father’s (Rodrigo Duarte Clark) street fruit cart and part -time at a gym. She’s a Mexican-American living in Oakland, California, and is the single parent of a young daughter Lydia (Kaya Jade Aguirre). They all live together and are supportive of each other. Juana gets hired for kitchen work in a Japanese restaurant and makes the most of the opportunity to learn how to be a sushi chef.

The chief cook, Aki (Yutaka Takeuchi), takes a liking to her and quietly trains her. But the restaurant owner (Roji Oyama) won’t promote her despite her talent because he’s afraid customers will think his place is not authentic with a Latina sushi chef. But she becomes confident enough to enter a television sushi competition and despite being a Mexican and a woman, wins the big prize money.

After a limited theater run it went to VOD.

REVIEWED ON 9/20/2017 GRADE: B-   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/