An E-mail Interview with Oudai Kojima, Director of JOINT [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]

“No idea’s original, there’s nothing new under the sun. It’s never what you do, but how it’s done,” Nas from the album Best of Nas

While every country around the world has its organised crime gangs, few hold the level of mystique and infamy that Japan’s Yakuza does. Their style, codes, hierarchies, history, and their full-body tattoos have long been the subject of books, video games, news articles, and films to the point that they have become part of global popular culture. In Japan, many directors have either worked in the genre of used elements of it in their own films. Consequently, unless a director has a strong story, style, or philosophy, films based on the nefarious activities of Japan’s criminal underworld have a have a feel of deadened familiarity. This familiarity was not what I felt when watching JOINT.

JOINT tells the story of a guy trying to get clear of the criminal underworld but getting caught up in a gang war. While its story has many plot points familiar from other films, the realistic way it is shot, the details in the narrative and the performances of its cast created an atmosphere that was unlike many other contemporary Japanese crime films and so it felt different. More importantly, the atmosphere was so strong it made the film gripping and I felt that I was taken into a different world, one better reflective of Japanese criminal gangs operating today. It’s pretty remarkable considering that JOINT is the debut feature of director Oudai Kojima.

Born in Kobe in 1994, Oudai Kojima is a director, cinematographer, and editor who makes music videos, commercials, and, now, fiction films. He was raised in New York from the age of 3 to 13. After returning to Japan he studied architecture at the University of Tokyo. His entry into the film world began by studying under filmmaker Tomokazu Yamada for a year and a half before he began production on JOINT, his debut feature. I saw it when it was played at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021. He kindly took part in an email interview where he answered questions about his background, the work put in to JOINT to create its realistic atmosphere, and how he got such convincing performances from his cast.

My questions were translated into Japanese by Takako Pocklington while director Kojima answered in both English and Japanese.

The Japanese transcript is first and it is followed by English. Click on a link below to be taken to one or the other.

Japanese English

Joint film Poster 2

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An Email Interview with Akihiko Yano, Director of “yes,yes,yes” [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]

I wish I were better at writing about acting because every now and then I watch a film where there are astonishing performance that I am spellbound and profoundly moved. In those situations, I want to wax lyrical to do justice to what I have seen. Of course, every other aspect of the film counts, too. When I watched the drama yes,yes,yes I was not quite prepared for the actors who are, raw vulnerable, surprising, realistic, and honest.

Director Akihkro Yano worked with his cast closely and stripped away most movie artifice to get phenomenal performances to convey the emotionally intense situation in his script. The story concerns a family reacting to the news that the matriarch Sayuri (Nahoko Kawasumi) may die. This sets off emotional chain reactions that cause conflict, particularly with teenage son Takeaki (Kazuma Uesugi), before there is eventually, healing. It is a heartfelt story and it felt real. Indeed, it made me cry multiple times and gave a feeling of catharsis as I took in its lesson of learning to appreciate and love those around and thought deeply about people in my own life.

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Joint ジョイント Director: Oudai Kojima (2020) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]

Joint      Joint film Poster 2

ジョイント Jointo

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 118 mins.

Director: Oudai Kojima

Writer: HAM-R (Script),

Starring: Ikken Yamamoto, Kim Jin-cheol, Kim Chang-bak, Keisuke Mitsui, Sogen Higuchi,

OAFF Link

Joint is the debut feature of director Oudai Kojima. While it doesn’t do anything new with its iteration of a story of gangsters, loyalty and betrayal, he makes it memorable and very much worth watching through imbuing it with an atmosphere so strong it will feel like you are plunged into the crime world alongside a charismatic main character whose arc allows you to see every aspect of it.

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Three Sisters 세자매 Director: Lee Seung-won (2020) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]

Three Sisters    Three Sisters Film Poster

세자매 Se Ja-mae

Release Date: January 27th, 2021

Duration: 115 mins.

Director: Lee Seung-won

Writer: Lee Seung-won (Script), 

Starring: Moon So-ri, Kim Sun-young, Jang Yoon-ju, Cho Han-cheul, Hyun Bong-sik, Kim Ga-hee,

OAFF IMDB KoBiz

Three Sisters is the latest feature from Lee Seung-won, a writer and director with a background in theatre. Much like his two previous films, Communication & Lies (2015) and especially Happy Bus Day (2017), it plies the territory of damaged people and broken family relations. The main difference with Three Sisters compared to Lee’s earlier works is that it is less abrasive due to its finely polished visual sheen and also its script which sneaks tragedy on audiences behind black comedy and a non-linear narrative. These varying tones serve Lee’s desire to show acting at its best as he provides his leads with drama found through well-realised characters dealing with an explosive legacy.

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Keep Rolling 好好拍電影 Dir: Man Lim Chung (2020) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]

Keep Rolling    Keep Rolling Film Poster

好好拍電影

映画をつづける Eiga o tsuzukeru

Release Date: 2020

Duration: 111 mins.

Director: Man Lim-chung

Writer: N/A

Starring: Ann Hui, Andy Lau, Tsui Hark, Sylvia Chang,

IMDB   OAFF Link

Compared to fellow Hong Kong auteurs like John Woo, Tsui Hark, and Wong Kar-wai, Ann Hui’s name isn’t as well known but this veteran filmmaker has quietly created a catalogue of varied works that have made her one of the most acclaimed directors in the world. Her most recent success is being a recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2020 edition of the Venice International Film Festival where her latest film Love After Love played. This accolade comes after a four decade career that has notable achievements such as winning Best Director at the Golden Horse Awards three times and Best Director at the Hong Kong Film Awards six times. With more film projects on the horizon, she shows no signs of slowing down despite the fact that she has reached the age of 73. Trying to get a handle on such a career is intimidating but the biographical documentary Keep Rolling provides the perfect entry into the life of Ann Hui.

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Japanese Films at the Berlin International Film Festival 2021

 

Like Rotterdam earlier this month, the Berlin International Film Festival has had to change its format due to Covid-19 and so it launches in two sections. From the website:

From March 1 to 5, 2021, the 71st Berlinale is being launched with an Industry Event (European Film MarketBerlinale Co-Production MarketBerlinale Talents and Word Cinema Fund) for film professionals and accredited representatives of the press. All Industry Event activities will take place online.
Information on Participating in the Industry Event
Selected events from Berlinale Talents (talks and live workshops) and the World Cinema Fund (WCF Day) will be accessible online to the general public. The respective programmes will be published in mid-February.

From June 9 to 20, 2021, the Summer Special will give the general public the opportunity to see the majority of the 2021 selected films in Berlin cinemas in the presence of the filmmakers. The opening of the Summer Special will be celebrated with a gala event on June 9.

Check this festival page just before the Summer Special to see what will be screened in cinemas. I’ll update this post if more films are added.

What are the Japanese films programmed so far?

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Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021 Announces Opening/Closing Films

The key visual of OAFF 2021 is an original art by Vancouver-based cartoonist Marc Bell.

The Organisers of the Osaka Asian Film Festival have announced details of the 2021 edition. The top headlines are:

It is going ahead in two forms, one physical and one digital

  • On screen (OAFF 2021 programs in cinemas): March 5 – March 14
  • Online (Selected films from previous OAFF programs): February 28 – March 20

The screen programs will consist of the Competition, Indie Forum, and other sections and special programs dedicated to emerging trends in Asian cinema.

The Online Programs will have a rich selection of works that have been screened at the Osaka Asian Film Festival in the past. These films will be available to rent for a limited time through VOD (video on demand) services via a streaming platform. The viewing period for these films is from February 28 to March 20 as “Osaka Asian Film Festival Online” and it will be available in Japan. The first title to bee announced for online screening is WHOLE, a drama about biracial people searching for their identity in Japan (here’s my review).

Due to the Coronavirus situation, there will be rules in place at cinemas to keep people safe and the festival’s program might change at short notice, so please keep an eye on the official site and also SNS: Twitter, Facebook etc.

Also announced were the OPENING and CLOSING films.

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Japanese Films at the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2021

Rotterdam International Film Festival Logo

From February 01st – 07th and June 2nd – 06th 2020, the 50th edition of the Rotterdam International Film Festival will screen their films online. It’s going to be an online experience available to people in Holland, however, some of the screen talks will be available worldwide. These are all available to view over a certain number of days via the festival’s own streaming platform.

Check out this page for more details.

There are three films programmed. One of the films here was at the Tokyo International Film Festival last year, one looks relatively brand new while the other comes from France and they are all in the Big Screen Competition.

Here are the Japanese movies:

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Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2021 – This is My Place – Carving out a sense of existence and belonging in Japanese Cinema (Online Special)

Whenever the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme rolls around, I end up doing posts on Anime UK News (AUKN) and my blog. Earlier this month, I published a preview on AUKN and now it’s time for my blog!

A Beloved Wife 喜劇 愛妻物語  Film Image 5

Here are the headlines:

  • This year’s programme is totally online and totally FREE to view for people in the UK,
  • There are 18 films (one anime, no documentaries or shorts),
  • Screening dates have been announced (keep checking the Japan Foundation’s SNS to get info on screening links),
  • So far, no word on guests.

Here is the preview but with my own data format for the films.

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