In Zen temples, Tenzo is the name of the position given to the person responsible for meals. It’s one of the monastery’s six prestigious posts, and also involves teaching many important aspects of the doctrine. Clearly, by making this the title of his film, Katsuya Tomita places cooking, care, hospitality, attentiveness towards others and, more generally, the issue of community at the heart of his project. Commissioned by the Young Monks association, Tenzo chooses Chiken and Ryugyo, two Buddhist monks, as protagonists. Both of them were deeply a ected by the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, and both of them decided to spend their lives serving their fellow countrymen and women. One of them, Chiken, teaches culinary practice as an art of living and devotes some of his time to working on a suicide prevention hotline. The other, Ryugyo, supports the earthquake victims in his own modest but very practical way. The beauty of Tomita’s film lies in the fact that nothing is settled in advance – neither the characters nor the situations, nor even the cinematic style is stable. Everything is liable to move physically and/or emotionally, but also to demonstrate freedom with this discreet, possibly Zen teaching, where a genuine jubilance has the definitive upper hand. (J.P.R.)
Original version: Japanese. Subtitles: French. Script: Toranosuke Aizawa, Katsuya Tomita. Image: Takuma Furuya, Masahiro Mukoyama. Editing: Tomita Kasuya. Sound: Iwao Yamazaki. Casting : Chiken Kawaguchi, Shinko Kondo, Ryugyo Kurashima.
Production: All-Japan Soto Young Priests Association (Ryugyo Kurashima).
Distribution: Survival (Guillaume Morel).
Filmography: Above the clouds, 2003. O highway 20, 2007. Saudade, 2011. Bangkok Nites, 2017.
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