The next major release from Third Window Films is Uzumasa Limelight which will get a theatrical release across the UK when it plays as part of the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2016 (here’s my preview). I watched it yesterday and enjoyed it a lot so I can easily recommend it. Expect a review soon.
Here are the details from the press release and an old trailer post:
太秦ライムライト 「Uzumasa Laimulaito」
Release Date: July 12th, 2014 (Japan)
UK Release Date: February 09th, 2016
Running Time: 104 mins
Director: Ken Ochiai
Writer: Hiroyuki Ono (Screenplay),
Starring: Seizo Fukumoto, Chihiro Yamamoto, Hiroki Matsukata, Masashi Goda, Hirotaro Honda, Hisako Manda, Anna Kawashima,
Synopsis: A moving, nostalgic portrait of the men behind the golden age of chanbara (sword-fighting dramas and films), Uzumasa Limelight goes behind the scenes of the distinctive film genre for which Japan is famous. It takes place in Uzumasa Studios (just outside Kyoto), the Hollywood of Japan. In this venerable studio are a group of performers who are “kirare-yaku” (actors whose main job is to “to be cut”–and show a beautiful, spectacular death on screen after being killed by the hero). Our lead character is named Kamiyama (real-life kirare-yaku Seizo Fukumoto) and he has devoted 50 years of his life as a kirare-yaku in sword-fighting movies produced at Uzumasa Studios. A master of the art, he lives to die. Now an elderly man, Kamiyama lives very modestly but has earned immense respect from his peers, some of them movie stars. When the studio where he works decides to discontinue its chanbara productions, Kamiyama finds himself at a loss. Hope arrives in the form of a young girl named Satsuki, who soon becomes Kamiyama’s disciple. Will the art of dying by the sword live on?
SEIZO FUKUMOTO: as Seiichi Kamiyama
Born February 3, 1943. Seizo Fukumoto entered Toei Studio Kyoto (Japan) at the age of 15. Since then, he has been on films, TV, and jidaigeki for more than a half century. His forte is kirareyaku, “to-be-killed actor” who loses sword fights. In 2003, he was starred in the Hollywood film The Last Samurai (starring Tom Cruise) as the role of the Silent Samurai, and the film brought him before an international audience.
CHIHIRO YAMAMOTO: as Satsuki Iga
Born August 29, 1996. Chihiro Yamamoto started learning Tai Chi when she was 3 years old. In 2012, she won 1 gold medal and 2 silver medals at World Junior Wushu Championship. Uzumasa Limelight is her debut in a film.
Director: Ken Ochiai
Ken Ochiai made his first film at age 12. Immediately following his high school graduation, he left his hometown of Tokyo, Japan, to pursue his dream of becoming a film director in the United States. Ochiai graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 2006 with a BA in production. In 2008, he received his MFA from the American Film Institute Conservatory in directing.
To date, Ochiai has made more than 30 short films, commercials, and music videos including “Half Kenneth” which won the Jury Prize from the Directors Guild of America; Frog In The Well which won the Crystal Award at the Heartland Film Festival; and Miyuki’s Wind Bell which won the Sapporo Peace Award at the Sapporo Short Fest.
He received the Young Alumni Award from the USC Asian Pacific Alumni Association in recognition of his achievements in filmmaking.
His first feature film, Tiger Mask was released in the fall 2013 in several Asian countries. The film is based on a Japanese legendary comic book series and produced by Toshiaki Nakazawa, producer from an Oscar®-winning film “Departures.”
Official site: www.kenochiai.com
The list of cinemas where it will be screened is as follows:
ICA – London, Aberystwyth Arts Centre – Aberystwyth, Watershed – Bristol, QUAD – Derby, mac birmingham – Birmingham, Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) – Dundee, Filmhouse – Edinburgh, Showroom Cinema – Sheffield, Phoenix Leicester