Indie Film Preview: “East Side Sushi” is Charming

Opens at Sundance & Ark Lodge on November 13.

East Side Sushi is the winner of the audience award at six international film festivals, and it has also received the award for Best Screenplay at the Napa Valley Film Festival, as well as the Best of the Festival prize at the Heartland Film Festival. 


Meet Juana, a Latina single-mother living in Oakland, California. An experienced and talented home cook, she discovers a whole new world of cuisine and culture when she takes a job as a prep cook at a Japanese restaurant. Juana secretly observes the chefs and begins to teach herself the fine art of sushi. With her creativity sparked, Juana’s re-ignited passion for food drives her to want more from her job and her life. But her goal of becoming a sushi chef is thwarted when she is deemed the “wrong” race and gender. Against all odds, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery, determined to not let anyone stop her from achieving her dream.

Sundance Cinemas
4500 9th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105

Ark Lodge Cinema
4816 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98118

OUR REVIEW: We love indie films because they feel more like real life and less glamorous than the big box office movies (though escaping through films is an enjoyable thing too). Based in Oakland, Diana Elizabeth Torres’ Juana and her adorable daughter, played by Kaya Jade Aguirre put on charming performances. It’s hard not to root for them in this family-friendly film about ethnicity, family and cultural values, economic opportunity, and gender roles, especially for Mexican Americans. Juana’s dad encourages her to stay true to herself and her unique identity, telling her, “If you can’t beat them at their game, beat them at yours.”

At times, the acting and script feels a little forced, but overall, it’s an endearing film that deals with some real issues and we recommend it.