Rina Tanaka is a directing talent to watch out for based on the short Filled With Steam (2017) which I saw at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018. It was a film that had breathtaking moments of painful loneliness that were skilfully shot that I still remember clearly even as the year draws to an end. Snake Beneath the Flower Petals was at Nippon Connection 2017 and is one of the works she made in order to complete the master’s degree course at Tokyo University of the Arts’ Graduate School of Film and New Media where she studied under Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Nobuhiro Suwa and here she captures the isolation of people in a filmwhich displays a superb sensitivity for translating emotions onto the screen.
At the Osaka Asian Film Festival,Filled with Steam(2017) was one of the films screened at the Housen section, a place reserved for films that received support from the Housen Cultural Foundation. This organisation aims to further film study and production in graduate schools across Japan with the aim of “preserving and helping grow film culture in Japan” through funding shorts and features. This is the second year that OAFF ran a dedicated Housen section and this year there were three films, Girl Returned(2017), Protest (2016), and Filled with Steam.
Filled with Steam is a bittersweet 30-minute dramedy that details a relationship full of secrets as a woman named Midoriko (Ayako Mizuno) and her husband Daisuke (Takehito Sato) drift apart. Midoriko is visiting a pregnancy classroom run by a flamboyant teacher named Miho (Kaori Takeshita) unbeknownst to Daisuke but a series of twists forces the couple to confront the substance of their marriage. Directed by Rina Tanaka, the film displays a talented director working with great people and interesting material to make a thought-provoking human drama. It was warmly received by its audience at its world premiere at the National Museum of Art, Osaka, but questions remained for this correspondent about the use of comedy and the late-stage intervention of a baby. Fortunately. the cast and crew of the film provided answers in a group interview.
This interview was conducted after the screening with the help of Kayoko Nakanishi, a member of OAFF’s International Press team, who acted as an interpreter and got involved in the lively interview with some questions and comments due to her own enjoyment of the film. Taking part in the interview from the film’s cast and staff were the director, Rina Tanaka, a graduate with a Masters from the Tokyo University of the Arts, Film & New Media, Directing course, the actors Takehito Sato and Kaori Takeshita, the film’s writer Ryota Kato and the editor, Fixy Lee.
Filled with Steam is one of the latest works by Rina Tanaka, an up-and-coming filmmaker with a Masters from Tokyo University of the Arts, Film & New Media’s Directing course who already has a feature film to her name and is developing a distinct style. With this short, audiences at the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2018 got to taste her sensibility, which favours creating ambiguity through the use of clashing tones. Here we see quite a clash. Filled with Steam is a tale of love on life-support featuring a visceral undercurrent of tragedy masked by comedic elements that culminates in a powerful ending.