HBO series ‘Food Lore’ to feature Philippines’ ‘Island of Dreams’

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    Yul Servo, Angeli Bayani, director Erik Matti and Ina Feleo
    Yul Servo, Angeli Bayani, director Erik Matti and Ina Feleo

    A brand new HBO Asia Original anthology drama series, “Food Lore,” will premiere on November 3, 10 p.m. on HBO GO and HBO.

    The eight-episode hour-long series explores human conditions with narratives inspired by Asian cuisines.

    Directed by award-winning Singaporean filmmaker Eric Khoo (“Ramen Teh”, “12 Storeys”), the series is shot in eight countries across Asia – India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and directed by some of Asia’s most talented storytellers, including Erik Matti (“BuyBust”, “Honor Thy Father”) from the Philippines, Phan Dang Di (“Bi, Don’t Be Afraid”, “Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories”) from Vietnam, Billy Christian (“Tuyul: Part 1”, “The Sacred Riana: Beginning”) from Indonesia, Don Aravind (“Angel”, “Drive”) from Singapore, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (“Headshot”, “Last Life in the Universe”) from Thailand, Takumi Saitoh (“Blank 13”, “Hannbun no Sekai”) from Japan and Ho Yuhang (“Trespassed”, “Mrs. K”) from Malaysia.

    Like a favorite dish from home, each story is a flavor of love and set to tease the senses. Viewers will be taken on an emotional journey filled with passion, treasured memories and a little spice of Asia. Each episode possesses a distinct voice, tone, and narrative.

    The first two episodes, the Vietnam episode, “He Serves Fish, She Eats Flower,” and the Philippines episode, “Island of Dreams,” will make its world debut at this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) on October 30 and 31, respectively. TIFF started in 1985 as Japan’s first major film festival and since has grown to become one of the leading film festivals in Asia.

    “Island of Dreams,” premiering on Nov. 3 at 10 p.m., stars Angeli Bayani, Yul Servo, and Ina Guillen Feleo. It tells the story of Nieves (Bayani), who dreams of giving her family a bright future. She leaves her husband and children to work as a domestic helper in Manila.

    Returning home for the annual fiesta, Nieves soon realizes that she may have grown estranged from her beloved family as her jubilant homecoming takes an unexpected turn.

    “He Serves Fish, She Eats Flower,” airing on Nov. 10, is set in Ho Chi Minh City. A charismatic Japanese chef, Thang, woos a beautiful stewardess with a special tofu dessert and wins her heart. They begin a whirlwind romance but soon discover their irreconcilable differences about food and love. In his desperation, Thang attempts one last culinary experiment to keep her in his life.

    “Maria’s Secret Recipe,” debuting on Nov. 27, is set in Indonesia. When a mysterious woman, Maria, arrives on the shores of a small traditional Indonesian village to set up her food stall, the men are mesmerised by her sumptuous cooking and sensuality – much to their wives’ dismay. In a desperate attempt to satisfy her husband, a lonely wife, Ratih, approaches Maria for her secret recipe.

    “A Plate of Moon,” showing on Nov. 24, is set in India and Singapore. It tells of Anbu, a reluctant young domestic helper from India who has been hired to care for Raja, an elderly man in Singapore suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Amidst their struggles and differences, they bond over food, love, and memories. Just when all seems to be going well, an unexpected piece of news sends Anbu’s world unravelling again. It will premiere at the Singapore International Film Festival on November 24.

    Meanwhile, “The Caterer” on December 1 is about an arrogant American actor who arrives in Thailand for the first time to star in a horror film. Disgusted by the exotic Thai cuisine served, he sticks to what he knows best: burgers and donuts. Everything changes when he tastes the soup cooked by the production caterer.

    Episode 6, “Tamarind,” premiering on Dec. 8, is set in Singapore. In it, a French chef, Julie, who is new in Singapore, seeks the help of Irfan, a struggling Malay hawker to create a new fusion dish. As their worlds collide, a friendship brews between them as they work together on an exploration of food, flavor and feelings.

    “Life in a Box,” to be shown Dec. 15, is about an uninspired picture book author, a recent widower and his teenage daughter and an elderly retired wrestler whose lives intersect during a quiet train ride away from busy Tokyo. The group revisits memories long forgotten and rediscovers hope on their journey of nostalgia, memory and love.

    Finally, “Stray Dogs,” airing on Dec. 22, is about an ambitious young businessman, Tim, hopes to start a restaurant franchise with the bad-tempered, yet genius chef, Maki, in Kuala Lumpur.