Taiwan food comedy is a smash hit

Taiwan food comedy is a smash hit
Cinema still: Zone Pro Site: The Moveable Feast starring Lin Mei-hsiu (left) and Kimi Hsia

Sixteen years after Taiwanese director Chen Yu-hsun quit film-making because of his compatriots' poor response to local works, he returns with a box-office hit in Zone Pro Site: The Moveable Feast.

He says that audiences in his native Taiwan have turned the film, which has earned more than NT$300 million (S$12.7 million) and counting, into "a real family affair".

Speaking to Life! in Mandarin at a sit-down interview in Singapore, the 51-year-old says: "Suddenly, a lot of older folks or really young kids are all going to the cinema to see this movie. And you know, these are people who do not typically step into the cinema on their own accord.

"So for the older ones, that means that their children have bought tickets to take them to see the movie together. The same goes for the really young ones - they are going because someone else in their family had watched it and then decided to take them to watch it again, together."

The film, which opens in Singapore on Thursday, is about the Taiwanese tradition of "ban doh", or street banquet.

The title Zone Pro Site sounds like "zong pu shi", which means "master banquet chef" in Chinese.

Rising star Kimi Hsia, 29, plays aspiring actress Hsiao Wan, who flees from debt collectors with her mother (Lin Mei-hsiu) and sets up a small eatery in a quiet town. When the debt collectors discover their new abode, mother and daughter decide to enter a local "ban doh" cooking competition, with their eyes on the NT$1 million prize money.

They seek the help of "cuisine doctor" Yeh Ru-hai (Yo Yang), who has a talent for tweaking recipes.

Traditional dishes are featured heavily in the movie, which is one reason for its success, according to the director.

"I think audiences like the nostalgia and the food," says Chen.

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