An Interview with Urara Matsubayashi and Mayu Akiyama on the Film “Kamata Prelude” at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020

Mayu Akiyama (director) and Urara Matsubayashi (producer/lead actress) from the Osaka Asian Film Festival
Mayu Akiyama (director) and Urara Matsubayashi (producer/lead actress) from the Osaka Asian Film Festival

My final interview at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020 was with Mayu Akiyama and Urara Matsubayashi for the festival’s closing film Kamata Prelude.

Kamata Prelude is the brainchild of Urara Matsubayashi (lead actress in The Hungry Lion) who Kamata Prelude Film Posterproduced as well as took a lead role. She gives a portrayal of a struggling actress named Machiko who lives in the Kamata area of Tokyo. A four-part omnibus film, each section revolves around her in some way and aims to depict what it means to be a “woman” and an “actress” in society, but they are done in the unique style of each of the four directors.

Two of the directors are guys you may have heard of if you follow film festivals. Book-ending the film are Ryutaro Nakamura, whose works like Plastic Love Story and Silent Rain are full of lyrical imagery, and Hirobumi Watanabe, who has built a filmography based on his stories all being set in his native Tochigi prefecture and shot with distinct monochrome visuals while being shot-through with dry humour. The newer directors are two young women, Yuka Yasukawa, one of a number of emerging talents tapped to helm a section in the omnibus film 21st Century Girl, and Mayu Akiyama, whose debut work, Rent a Friend, won the MOOSIC LAB Grand Prix and was screened at the Tokyo International Film Festival 2018.

While Watanabe and Nakamura made sections that are delightful reveries about life and a love of movies/culture (albeit, tinged with melancholy in Nakamura’s case), Yasukawa and Akiyama provided subjects that feel more keyed in to the thorny issues of life as a young woman. Yuka Yasukawa gives a #MeToo story wherein Machiko goes to a casting call and finds herself facing a grossly exploitative panel of guys alongside a defiant fellow actress played by Kumi Takiuchi (It Feels So Good, Greatful Dead). Meanwhile, Akiyama’s section felt like a realistic depiction of a get-together of girls wherein false masks and the anxieties that women bear in society are exposed in an onsen in Kamata. This section is full of great actresses who are making waves in the entertainment world like Mayuko Fukuda (Good-Bye) and an especially acerbic Sairi Ito (Love & Other Cults). 

Sat with Matsubayashi and Akiyama at a rooftop bar, I enjoyed a lively talk with two intelligent and resourceful creatives who I felt would be making big things in the future. Their film is a refreshingly hip and contemporary set of stories where its unique approach to style and subject-matter rendered their address of important issues enjoyable, nuanced, and relevant for our age.

This interview was done at the festival and via email with their help and the invaluable help of Takako Pocklington who translated and added some interesting comments.

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KAMATA PRELUDE 蒲田前奏曲 Dirs: Ryutaro Nakagawa, Mayu Akiyama, Yuka Yasukawa, Hirobumi Watanabe (Japan, 2020) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

KAMATA PRELUDE    Kamata Prelude Film Poster

蒲田前奏曲 Kamata Zensoukyoku

Release Date: Autumn 2020

Duration: 115 mins.

Directors: Ryutaro Nakagawa, Mayu Akiyama, Yuka Yasukawa, Hirobumi Watanabe

Writers: Ryutaro Nakagawa, Mayu Akiyama, Yuka Yasukawa, Hirobumi Watanabe (Script)

Starring: Urara Matsubayashi, Kotone Furukawa, Kumi Takiuchi, Ren Sudo, Sairi Ito, Mayuko Fukada, Noa Kawazoe, Ryutaro Ninomiya, Ryutaro Kondo,

OAFF Link

Receiving its world premiere as the closing film of the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020, Kamata Prelude is an omnibus movie split between four different directors with four distinct styles separated simply by an edit and a change in visual approach. Each director is part of a new generation of talent from the Japanese movie industry and this mix of approaches ensures a change of pace occurs often enough to keep interest in the film high.

Keeping all of these disparate elements together is the depiction of the life of a struggling actress named Machiko who lives in Kamata. Portrayed by Urara Matsubayashi (lead actress in The Hungry Lion), the film’s producer, she is the centre of these stories each of which depicts her learning what it means to be a “woman” and an “actress” in contemporary Japanese society through showing the behaviour and perceptions of those who surround her. Comic, dramatic, all sorts of emotional hues are touched upon.

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Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020 Announces Opening and Closing Films: The Garden of Evening Mists and Kamata Prelude

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Earlier today, the organisers of the 2020 edition of the Osaka Asian Film Festival announced their opening and closing films, both of which are completely different in form and content. Here’s the information direct from the festival website.

Everything kicks off on March 06th with the Malaysian film, The Garden of Evening Mists, a historical drama featuring a pan-Asian cast and crew who have adapted the award-winning novel by Twan Eng Tan.

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