SAN FRANCISCO — “Infinity and Chashu Ramen” will premiere during the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival at the Sundance Kabuki Cinema on Post Street between Webster and Fillmore in San Francisco.
The universe unfolds a little differently in Japantown, a sleepy little neighborhood nestled in the heart of San Francisco. A mischievous 400-year-old obake named Tenshi watched over the residents by himself for generations, but today he has been charged with showing young Lucy Yamaguchi the ropes. Together, these two unseen spirits will wander in and out of the lives of the unsuspecting residents as they try to keep the universe running smoothly in this new feature film.
Ikeibi Films and the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival will present the world premiere on Saturday, April 20, at 7 p.m. with an encore screening at 9:30 p.m. Part of the proceeds from each show will benefit the non-profit festival.
The film, which is the first-ever feature to be shot entirely in Japantown, has an ensemble cast of 25 Asian American actors, including Hiroshi Kashiwagi, Wendy Woo, Sandra Young, Todd Nakagawa, Suz Takeda, Carolyn Hu, Anna Jones, Jean Franco, Randall Nakano, Henrietta Q. Gard, Khoi Tran, Rey Taira, Nishea Andolong, Nan Suphari, Ben Arikawa, Larry Kitagawa, Rafe Eric Biggs and Chizuko Omori. There will be a question-and-answer session with them after each show.
Director/writer/producer Kerwin Berk also used Japantown as the setting for a short film, “The Virtues of Corned Beef Hash,” in 2010.
“Infinity and Chashu Ramen” is a series of seven interwoven vignettes that blend Japanese folklore with Japanese American culture, all set against the backdrop of one of San Francisco’s most vibrant but hidden neighborhoods.
“Our film has speaking parts in six different languages and dialects, with a cast that is virtually all Asian American,” said Berk. “We believe it’s important for Asian Americans to tell our own stories in our own way, using our own talent in front of and behind the camera.
“To this point, the cast and crew have waived payment to get this film made. The merchants and residents of Japantown also went out of their way to help, allowing us to shoot in their homes and businesses at no charge. So we all consider this film to be very much a community effort, with participants who can trace their roots back to the Philippines, China, Thailand, Taiwan, Peru, Vietnam and, of course, Japan.”
Berk is a former print journalist who worked at newspapers and wire services for almost 20 years. His last stop was at his hometown paper, The San Francisco Chronicle. Today, he’s a freelance writer and independent filmmaker. He is the founder of Ikeibi Films, a production company based in San Francisco.
Tickets are $12.50 online and at the “Infinity and Chashu Ramen” booth at the Cherry Blossom Festival; $15 at the door; seniors are $10. In addition, you can reserve your own advance DVD of the film and have it waiting for you at the show, or have it mailed to you.
For more information, visit http://infinityandchashuramen.com/.