Author: Ben Dimagmaliw

Eye-One-Made-in-Japan

Made in Japan

A brutal murder by a minor happens along the river of an industrial area. Kyoichi works at a factory nearby and happens upon an article about the crime in a magazine. He realizes the culprit was a subordinate at the place he worked part-time a while ago. When Kyoichi posts this realization on Twitter, he is inundated with interview requests from the mass media. So, he accepts an offer from a reporter. The latest by Matsumoto Yusaku is a 30 minute short which takes on media sensationalism and that buzzword of the times “fake news” through the story’s developments. He aims to ask important questions about whether or not the mass media acknowledges and takes responsibility for lies compounded by more lies after they gobble up and sensationalize a story. Conversely, he also seeks to question the populace’s seeming disinterest in learning the actual truth to the latest media scandals, challenging unempathetic attitudes in either creating, consuming, or propagating information in the age of social media. The trailer below again displays Matsumoto’s penchant for holding …

Eye-On-Noise

Noise

8 years have passed since a indiscriminate killing spree occurred in Akihabara. Three lives intersect in this internationally known sub-culture mecca: an underground idol whose mother was killed in that crime, a high school girl living on Akihabara’s streets who has ran away from home due to her strained relationship with her father, and a young delivery man who takes out his frustrations of his mother’s betrayal out on the city. Their respective anguish and emotional conflicts paint a picture of the loneliness and gloom of the people living in Akihabara. Director Matsumoto Yusaku experienced two incomprehensible situations when he was 15-years-old. One was the the suicide of a friend from his middle-school years, and the second was the Akihabara massacre that was shown on television. Noise is Matsumoto’s attempt at linking those two events in his youth by laying bear the light and dark sides of modern society. By some accounts, the movie has been embraced by Matsumoto’s peers as well as earning the praise from critics and festivals at home and abroad. It …

Eye-One-Complicity

Complicity

Chen Liang has come from China’s Henan Province to work in Japan as a technical trainee, but runs away from his place of training and becomes an illegal resident. He lies to his mother back home that he is continuing his training all the while performing work-for-hire petty larceny. In an unexpected turn of events, he takes a call for a job meant for another and pretends to be that person. He starts his new life living and working at an elderly soba master’s soba restaurant in Yamagata with the fear that his identity could be exposed at any moment. The feature length debut by Chikaura Kei deals with a timely issue–that of foreign workers, immigrants, or refugees making a new home in another country. Complicity in particular deals with “technical trainees” in Japan, a program for allowing foreigners to receive “training” while working in specific fields. The program has been criticized (and exploited) as a poorly veiled form of cheap labor. Rather than focus on the abuses which begins the story, the independent China-Japan …

Eye-One-The-Last-Persimmon

The Lasting Persimmon

Risaki is coming back home to her wintery countryside, Yamagata which is 400 km away from Tokyo. There she finds the seemingly unchanging snowy life of her beloved family and home village—snow shoveling, making pickles, bridges over a big river covered with snow, and persimmon fruits left unharvested on its tree. The original Japanese title of Chikaura Kei’s 2016 short movie is Nagori-Gaki which is a type of Japanese persimmon that become very ripe and sweet when left unharvested to endure the brutal winter. This is a custom in northern areas of Japan in order for travelers and birds to have something to eat. “Warm, Gentle and Strong” is how Chikaura described the people from the region and their customs that inspired The Lasting Persimmon. Homepage at: http://persimmonfilms.com

Eye-On-After-the-Exhibition

After the Exhibition

At the closing of his exhibition in the rural city of Mito, local artist Qualia declares “I don’t feel like going home” and loiters around the gallery. His girlfriend and his friends ultimately begin filtering out the door. Then Qualia comes up with an idea. Though shorter than YEAH, at 24 minutes, there is still no less to be digested in Suzuki’s observation about the nature of our interactions with one another depending on the situation. In the case of After the Exhibtion, Qualia–a real-life artist whom Suzuki befriended in Mito–is seen in different lights, when he is at the front of the gallery versus the time he spends in the gallery’s “backyard”. Or in other words, the separation between our public and private selves. Currently, Suzuki is working on his second feature-length, tentatively titled “Abokke” which will also be set in Mito and by all accounts may have already begun shooting.

Eye-On-Yeah

Yeah

Ako, a resident of a housing complex, appears to have some sort of personal problem. As a consequence, she is unable to find her own apartment and has no choice but to keep wandering about the housing complex grounds. Sometimes, she begins speaking with inanimate objects as if they were people–a tree here, a bicycle there, but never people. What exactly is her problem, and where does she intend to go? Suzuki, currently residing in the Ibaraki Prefecture capital of Mito, got together with actress Yanagi Elisa (Capturing Dad, Rolling) and decided to shoot something together in Mito. With the determined support of staff members from his previous movie Ow and newly made acquaintances in Mito, Suzuki was able to shoot this distinctive work which once again looks to be demonstrating Suzuki’s penchant for eccentricity combined with satirical wit as in Ow. This not only makes for fascinating viewing, but simultaneously provides ample food for thought. YEAH world premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2018 where programmers commented: “In this politically charged setting, …

Indievisual-Year-in-Review-Main

2018: Looking Back & Forward

Indievisual’s first full calendar year (it went live in April of 2017 with a Year-in-Review posted 8 months later) set new milestones and solidly built upon the momentum of its launch. The number of interviews published approached a respectable pace of one every two months. Caught My Eye write-ups also saw an increase following the new guiding principle for how they would be written as detailed in this blog entry. And with some good fortune, the number of Side Stories remained unchanged. 2018 was a landmark year for writing articles and interviewing filmmakers. Or…that is what could have been written. Sadly, the reality is quite different. 2018 was a good year certainly for paid work with many opportunities received from long time collaborators. This was also the first year translation work needed to be juggled with a job in the other realm in which I have a foot still planted. For more on this, please follow this link as I do not wish to dedicate space for it here. Suffice it to say, simultaneously working …