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Reiko and the Dolphin れいこいるか Director: Shinji Imaoka (2019) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

Reiko and the Dolphin    Reiko and the Dolphin Film Poster

れいこいるか「Reiko iruka

Release Date: August 08th, 2020

Duration: 92 mins.

Director: Shinji Imaoka

Writer: Shinji Imaoka (Script),

Starring: Aki Takeda, Hidetoshi Kawaya,

OAFF   Website

Pink film director Shinji Imaoka delivers a downbeat indie drama that has its roots in the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. Written at the time of the disaster, Imaoka had just made his debut as a film director and wanted to capture the atmosphere and emotions of the situation but no production company would provide backing. It wasn’t until 2016 when Imaoka received funding from one of his fans that he could initiate the project. He began shooting his script in January 2017, finishing it in time for the 25th anniversary of the disaster. The result is a melancholy film that follows the travails of regular people left reeling from tragic caused by the earthquake.

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Interview with VIDEOPHOBIA Director Daisuke Miyazaki [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

One of the highlights of the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020 was VIDEOPHOBIA, the latest work of Daisuke Miyazaki. A frequent visitor to Osaka, many of his works are youth-focused, with Yamato (California) (2016) and Tourism (2018) being screened at the festival. His films frequently capture the cultural zeitgeist for young people as young women with smartphones navigate various issues to carve out their own niche in the world. Yet VIDEOPHOBIA comes completely out of left-field as it’s an existential horror movie where technology drives a young woman into a fog of paranoia and fear.

Filmed around the less well-known areas of the city of Osaka and shot in black and white, it is a deeply unsettling experience as we witness melancholy 20-something Ai (Tomona Hirota) have a one-night stand with a stranger only to discover that a highly explicit sex-tape has been made of the encounter. It is a shocking discovery that plunges her into a panic that gets worse the more technology manipulates and alters her perception of herself. Things get so bad that she begins to question her own sanity and identity, realizing that the only way to rectify her situation is through total dissolution of her character. The audience is prompted to think about various social issues as Miyazaki pries apart the cracks in contemporary life and how incessant exposure to technology alters how we perceive ourselves. Full review here.

Miyazaki sat down to discuss the making of the film, the real-world topics that form the basis of the story and how he hopes the audience will engage with it amidst the ironies of our always-connected social media landscape.

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Videophobia Dir: Daisuke Miyazaki [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

Videophobia    Videophobia Film Poster

Release Date: August, 2019 (Japan)

Duration: 88 mins.

Director: Daisuke Miyazaki

Writer: Daisuke Miyazaki, Naoto Akiyama (Script),

Starring: Tomona Hirota, Shugo Oshinari, Sumire Ashina, Masahiro Umeda, Sahel Rosa,

OAFF IMDB

There are few filmmakers capturing the zeitgeist of youth culture like Daisuke Miyazaki. His characters, often smartphone-wielding young women, make their way through a chaotic world with what little resources have been given to them by society. This scarcity of support engendered a spirit of defiance in Yamato (California) (2016) and an openness for change in Tourism (2018) which helped the protagonists of those films define their own identity. VIDEOPHOBIA is Miyazaki’s darkest work yet, one that shows the shadowy side of technology as revealed through online pornography.

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The Modern Lovers, Aoi no zarazara Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, everyone!

vagrant story

I hope you are all well!

I started this week with a review of Coming Back Sunny and an interview with its director, Noriko Yuasa. I then posted about the festival I write for, the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival, hosting a streaming event. I then posted a review for Woman of the Photographs and an interview with its director, Takeshi Ksuhida.

In terms of films, I have watched The Girl with All the Gifts, the Scorcese version of Cape Fear, Interview with the Vampire and Sleepy Hollow.

I’m currently playing Vagrant Story (which is where the above image is from – found at the US Gamer website) because I’m waking up really early in the morning and don’t want to turn my computer on.

What is released this weekend?

Continue reading “The Modern Lovers, Aoi no zarazara Japanese Film Trailers”

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Interview with Woman of the Photographs Director Kushida Takeshi at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020

Takeshi Kushida’s feature debut Woman of the Photographs garnered great word of mouth at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020. Taken with Daisuke Miyazaki’s Videophobiait was one of two films at the festival to tackle the idea of technology and social media connectivity and how they distort our view of ourselves. While the former trod a distinct techno-horror path that won it fans, Woman of the Photographs earned buzz with its kinder, almost comedic love story between two characters stuck in the past.

When misogynistic middle-aged photographer Kai (theatre actor Hideki Nagai) meets a former ballet dancer turned social media star named Kyoko (played by the dancer/actress Itsuki Otaki), a strange relationship develops as he leaves his cloistered life and gets sucked into retouching her images after she gets a particularly nasty scar. This forms the basis of a battle Kyoko engages in as she wrestles with whether to show her true self to the world or maintain a fake idealised image. Scars of the body and mind are literally and metaphorically poked and prodded for icky effect to create a story pertinent to our age, how our truth is eroded for fiction, but a seemingly unlikely love promises to snap the two out of their restrictive ways of thinking and save them.

Imaginative visual and aural design helps to create an atmospheric story. Takeshi Kushida took the time to talk his assured debut at the festival.

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Woman of the Photographs 写真の女 Dir: Takeshi Kushida (2020) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

Woman of the Photographs    Woman of the Photographs Film Poster

写真の女Shashin no Onna

Release Date: June 27th, 2020

Duration: 89 mins.

Director: Takeshi Kushida

Writer: Takeshi Kushida (Script),

Starring: Hideki Nagai, Itsuki Otaki, Toshiaki Inomata, Toki Koinuma, Takaaki Kikuchi, Keiko Katsukura, Ryo Tsuchida,

OAFF Website

Writer/director Takeshi Kushida makes his feature debut with Woman of the Photographs, a story where a middle-aged photographer living a carefully controlled existence finds everything disrupted by the intrusion of a vivacious model whose presence triggers change. At 90 minutes, the film flies by but has depth as it asks questions about how people get mired in the past and confused over how to perceive themselves. With wit, drama and some special effects, the film goes beyond merely being topical and an “opposites attract” movie and becomes an absorbing drama about neuroses and love.

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Female Animators Featured in Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival 2020 Free Streaming Event (July 25)

The Kingdom of Amechou

July 25, 2020 Free Online Screening

On July 25, at 11am & 6pm (UK time), a special edition of the Kotatsu Japanese Animation Festival will be held in honour of its 10th anniversary. The festival will use its YouTube channel to present a free online screening of shorts from an all-female line-up of directors ranging from university students to the current crop of animators working today and an animation industry legend who we are celebrating with a centrepiece presentation featuring an interview we have recorded with her.

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Interview with “Coming Back Sunny” Director Noriko Yuasa

Noriko Yuasa

Noriko Yuasa is a director who hails from Okayama, Japan. She graduated from Tokyo Metropolitan University with a BA in Architecture before she entered Kinoshita Production, in 1999, to train as a TV Drama Director. In 2013, she went freelance as a director/producer and, since then, she has worked in both TV drama and film, specializing in project planning, directing and producing.

2015 saw her make her theatrical feature film debut, Udagawacho de matteteyo (Wait in Udagawacho), a romance which was released nationwide. This was followed by a brace of short films which showed growing confidence in her visual storytelling and approach to narrative construction, starting with Looking For My Sunflowers (2014), a story of a salaryman experiencing a shot of nostalgia in his hometown. This was followed by Girl, Wavering (2015), which used contrasting colours and poetic imagery to initiate severe tonal changes in a dramatic story of a high school girl’s life. The next film, Ordinary Everyday (2017), was a psychological horror set in downtown Tokyo that used visual and aural tricks like suddenly swathing the screen in vibrant colours to create an off-kilter atmosphere with ambiguous threats that burst out in a bonkers climax.

Yuasa’s works all feature vibrant use of colors and this factors in with her latest work, Coming Back Sunny, a short film about first love as experienced by a color-blind schoolgirl which pops and fizzes with different colors that are used to emotionally expand the story. Yuasa recently raised funds through Kickstarter to help pay for festival fees to bring the film to more audiences around the world but this campaign came at the start of the Covid-19 crisis which saw film production and exhibition around the world postponed, cancelled or forced to go online. This was something of an unprecedented event for the global film industry and so, this interview, conducted by email, was a chance to talk about the film as well as find out how the crisis has affected Yuasa’s project, and the importance of festivals.

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Coming Back Sunny おかえり、カー子 Dir: Noriko Yuasa (2019)

Coming Back Sunny   Seisyun Kaleidoscope Film Poster

おかえり、カー子「Okaeri Ka-ko

Release Date: August 24th, 2019

Duration: 15 mins.

Director: Noriko Yuasa, 

Writer: Takato Nishi (Script),

Starring: Riria Kojima, Honoka Yoneyama, Genki Wakana, Aya Yoshizaki, Genta Mizoguchi,

Website 

At a time when minimalism is trending as a style in Japanese indie cinema, Noriko Yuasa distinguishes herself through adventurous use of color and editing to add to the emotional space of her works. Her colorfulness enriched Looking For My Lost Sunflowers (2014) where the bright yellow of the flowers symbolized the warmth of a salaryman’s hometown nostalgia, the sharply contrasting blues, reds and grays in Girl, Wavering (2015) reflected a teenage girl’s rough adolescence, and the visual tricks of Ordinary Everyday (2017) created a reality that became increasingly fractured until a shock ending. With her latest short film, Coming Back Sunny, Yuasa uses strong colors to visualize the emotions of a high school girl’s first encounter with love.

Coming Back Sunny follows 17-year-old Shiori (Riria Kojima) who lives in the small city of Kawagoe. Shiori suffers from achromatopsia which means she cannot distinguish between the colors red and green, both of which look brown in her eyes. Interacting with the world can be frustrating since she misses the beauty that others see. This frustration has not only left her feeling uncomfortable in social situations but has even made her prematurely misanthropic. One source of relief is her best friend, Yumi (Honoka Yoneyama), who is a constant companion and the person closest to her heart.

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Hero 2020, His Bad Blood, Gone Wednesday Japanese Film Trailers

Happy weekend, people!

Hitagi

I hope you are all feeling fine!

After a busy couple of weeks with Nippon Connection 2020, I took it nice and slow with writing. I posted reviews for Shell and Joint, Flowers and Rain and East of Jefferson and I also posted a look at the Japanese films at the Udine Far East Film Festival 2020 which is online so it is possible for people around the world to watch some of the films that have been programmed. Check out the post to see what’s available.

In terms of non-Japanese films, I watched Season of the Witch, The Duellists and Outbreak.

What is released this weekend in Japan?

Continue reading “Hero 2020, His Bad Blood, Gone Wednesday Japanese Film Trailers”