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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Metrograph in New York to Screen Takeshi Kitano Movies throughout November

People in New York have a nice winter treat since Metrograph will play host to a series of movies by the genius that is Takeshi Kitano. This event will see most of his major works screened on 35mm prints from November 17th to November 25th. It features highlights such as Sonatine, Boiling Point, A Scene at the Sea and Kids Return. There’s also one of his weaker efforts, Getting Any?, a comedy that wears out its welcome after 30 minutes… Otherwise, this is a stellar selection of films.

Kikujiro Takeshi Kitano Masao Yusuke Sekiguchi
Kikujiro Takeshi Kitano Masao Yusuke Sekiguchi

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Hana-bi 花火 (1998)

Hana-bi   

Hanabi Japanese Film Poster
Hanabi Japanese Film Poster

花火Hana-bi

Release Date: January 24th, 1998 (Japan)

UK Release Date: January 11th, 2016

UK Distributor: Third Window Films

Running Time: 125 mins.

Director: Takeshi Kitano

Writer: Takeshi Kitano (Screenplay),

Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Kayoko Kishimoto, Ren Osugi, Susumu Terajima, Tetsu Watanabe,

IMDB

Takeshi Kitano is one of the major figures in the Japanese movie industry. He graduated from television to the film scene in the 1980s with a role in Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (1983). His real impact was felt in 1989 with Violent Cop, the film with which he established himself as a director of crime tales. Soon, his presence became synonymous with the Japanese hardman but it is arguable that his best films don’t feature him on the screen at all as people who have seen A Scene at the Sea (1991) and Kids Return (1996) may attest. When Kitano is present on screen he sizzles with barely restrained energy and coolness and a cracked sentimentality of sorts. No film epitomises this more than Hana-bi (1997), a title where his writing and directing reached its heights of brilliance.

Hana-bi Detective Nishi

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Third Window Films to Release Takeshi Kitano Classic Hana-bi on Blu-ray

Third Window Films are going to release three great films from legendary director Takeshi Kitano this year and the first of those films is Hana-bi. It has been at least over a decade since I last saw it but I still remember parts of it clearly and its impact on me at the time was pretty profound considering what went from a random DVD purchase shot to near top of my most respected films of all time and I went and bought a poster. I think now is the perfect time to get reacquainted…

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