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Self-taught Vietnamese filmmaker Lê Bảo’s directorial debut Taste takes place in the Ho Chi Minh City slums where he grew up, but the film centers on a displaced Nigerian man who is a world away from home.
A sensory-driven fever dream of a film, Taste follows the man (newcomer Olegunleko Ezekiel Gbenga), an injured soccer player who is cut off from his young son back home in Nigeria, as he finds escape from his fragile reality by building an intimate, primal space with four Vietnamese women he knows through work as a barber. The fivesome go about the basics of human existence together — cleaning, cooking, eating, sleeping and having sex — as the film raises questions about the isolation of globalization and our universal needs for tenderness and beauty.
Born in Vietnam in 1990, Lê Bảo’s first encountered cinema by watching bootleg copies of foreign films on a laptop. When he was 20, he began making shorts around Ho Chi Minh on a borrowed vintage camera. The vivid yet languid visual style of his feature debut offers hints of a promising new auteurist voice in Asian cinema.
Taste premieres in the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival’s Encounters section this week. Wild Bunch is handling worldwide sales.
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