Films about food are often best approached with the same wariness as the blue-plate special at an unknown greasy spoon. But this one's the genuine mouthwatering article. From its first shot -- a woman's naked breast being sprinkled with sugar before the nipple is offered to an infant's eager lips -- we're immersed in a world where food is a sensual experience. Fanis (George Corraface) is an Athens astrophysicist who returns to his grandfather's Istanbul spice shop where, 35 years earlier, he had his first glimpse of the secrets of life and how they can be interpreted in culinary terms. He learns of the miraculous qualities of cinnamon, for example, as well as the meaning of salt and of pepper and how everything from astronomy to sex can be understood through them. This semiautobiographical first feature by UCLA-trained Tassos Boulmetis handles the tricky subject of Greece and Turkey's tangled political relations over the past few decades with as much delicacy as a master chef artfully de-bones a fish. Viewers in Greece, where it outgrossed even Hollywood blockbusters, made this the most successful film of the year, and it was Greece's Oscar® entry for Best Foreign Language Film. This touching, heartwarming work offers more than a little comic relief as it gives viewers a chance to walk away with a deeper cultural understanding of a key region of the world -- plus a few cooking tips thrown in for good measure.
Tassos Boulmetis was born in Istanbul in 1957. He came to Greece in 1964. He studied Physics at the University of Athens and, with a scholarship from the Onassis Foundation, Film Production and Direction at UCLA. In Greece, he started his career as a director/producer of TV shows. He then co-produced, directed and wrote the film Dream Factory, which won eight awards in Greece and the Golden Award of Fantasy Movies from the Houston Film Festival. Since 1988 he's been directing TV spots, internationally, and has specialized in special effects and electronic image processing. A Touch of Spice is a labor of love for him as the story is based mostly on facts drawn from his own life.