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Anna-Maija Tuokko about ‘Master Cheng’ by Mika Kaurismäki: “Is a story about love, nature and food”

The protagonist of Finn Mika Kaurismäki’s last film highlights that these are good times for her country’s cinema

Anna-Maija Tuokko

25/10/2019.- Actress Anna-Maija Tuokko co-stars Mestari Cheng (Master Cheng), Finnish director Mika Kaurismäki’s latest film with which Seminci will close the festival’s 64th edition. The actress highlighted today that the film is a “story about love, nature, and food,” which is very necessary at a time like the present, in which negativity, arguments, and harassment take up a lot of space.

This is the second time that the actress has worked with the oldest of the Kaurismäki brothers. As she explained during the press conference after the screening, Lapland, where they chose to film, was very peaceful, and that made for a “magical experience.” “Everything was very easy going, there was no rush, and the peace and quiet of the shooting permeate the film,” said the actress, according to whom Master Cheng is a “story about love, nature, and food”, a plot full of “good feelings.”

This kind of story has “a place in the world,” which is dominated by “hate speech” as well as “arguments, negativity, and harassment.” “It’s what we need to see right now,” said the actress. She also talked about what an idyllic experience they had during the six weeks they spent filming in the Lapland village where the story takes places, which has 147 residents.

The healing power of food

Regarding the co-star’s nationality, the prestigious stage actor Chu Pak Hong, who plays the role of a famous Chinese chef who arrives at a remote village in Finland looking for an old friend, Anna-Maija Tuokko linked the choice with the admiration and love that the film’s screenwriter has for China, its food, its traditions, and its medicine. That love is well depicted in the film, which as a matter of fact conveys the healing power that food has when it is made with passion. “This is a very important part of the film’s concept.”

Anna-Maija Tuokko’s character is a young woman who is living in the village after a failed marriage and running the restaurant she inherited from her aunt. Preparing for the role, the actress and the film’s director spent many hours speaking about how the character had got to the situation she found herself in, of her desire to become a mother before turning 40.

During the appearance before the media, the actress said that these are good times for Finnish cinema, which has become international and opened up to the world especially in the last fifteen years, and more importantly in the last five years. This explains, to a great extent, the Oscar nominations of recent years and, for example, the fact that Master Cheng is a co-production in which China has participated.

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