Author: Ben Dimagmaliw

Eye-On-Criminal-Engravement

Criminal Engravement – A Young Tattoo Artist Challenges the System (Working Title)

Why are tattoo artists getting arrested in Japan? Despite its rich history and tradition that dates back centuries, tattoo is one of the most divisive and controversial issues in Japan. A young tattoo artist stands up for his rights and dares to open Japan’s “Pandora’s box” that exposes a society that is fast becoming an undemocratic totalitarian state. Yamamoto Hyoe is following up his compelling documentary Samurai and Idiots – The Olympus Affair with another feature documentary this time focusing on a case barely being covered in local media. Once again approaching the issue from the standpoint of a Japanese who has also spent most of his life in America, Yamamoto is placing the spotlight on the impact this case may have beyond the reach of tattooing itself. Despite the popularity of Japanese-style body art abroad, tattooing still carries a negative stigma associated with the yakuza and therefore people with tattoos are often stereotyped as not being “upstanding” citizens. The stigma has also carried over into unscientific-like arguments over the sanitariness of people with tattoos which …

Eye-On-Gaika

Gaika (working title)

The principal woman featured in this movie begins showing the initial symptoms of mottled spots on the skin at the age of seven. The onset of stupor beings when she is 10-years-old. She is diagnosed with leprosy at 22 and the following year in 1957 she is separated from her family before being mandatorily quarantined at the Tama Zenshoen Sanatorium. 10 months later she meets a man also quarantined there with leprosy and the two are wed. However, sanatorium rules at the time stipulated the castration of any male leprosy patient who marries another leprosy patient within the facility. The couple have no other recourse but to accept the rule for the sake of their married life together.  Director’s Statement I was very young when I first learned of leprosy. People said “get too close and you’ll be infected by the disease” so leprosy was a very scary sickness for me at that tender age. I became familiar with leprosy in a proper sense in 1999. I was involved as a director of a one …

Eye-On-Shinjuku-Tiger

Shinjuku Tiger

Shinjuku, Tokyo’s leading entertainment district. From the 1960s to the 1970s, Shinjuku was the epicenter of social movement. Now, an old man people call “Shinjuku Tiger” exists there. Wearing a tiger mask and gaudy clothing, he can be seen walking all over Shinjuku each day. In 1972, when Shinjuku Tiger was 24-years-old, he determined to live as a “tiger” until he dies. What happened to him in 1972? Through interviews with the staff at a newspaper distributor where he works; personnel from Tower Records which used him in posters for the 1998 grand opening of Tower Records Shinjuku as well as the store’s renewal in in 2012; and shopkeepers in the Golden Gai district among others, the film uncovers the true purpose hidden underneath the tiger mask, and the important role the town of Shinjuku has played. A graduate of the University of Southern California film school, director Sato Yoshinori has directed two independent movies which have played throughout Japan (at self-run, alternative venue screenings) and abroad. This is his first feature documentary which looks …

Eye-On-Danchi-Woman

Danchi Woman

For the past 3 decades 85-year-old Uchikoshi Shizu has been living in the 50-year-old Seaside Road “Danchi” – the Japanese word for public housing – and filling it with a lifetime of souvenirs that have always kept her company. Due to the scheduled demolition of the complex to rebuild them as newer danchi, Uchikoshi and the women in the apartment are faced with problems of relocation and rent. Uchikoshi and her neighbors must say goodbye to their homes, and move into smaller apartments that cannot hold all of Uchikoshi’s momentos. This intimate documentary captures Uchikoshi’s sense of humor and profound nostalgia, as she sorts through relics of her past, choosing which memories she must fit into her new home, and which ones she can let go of. Director Sugimoto Akiko had covered this very same public housing complex in her independent film Seaside Road Danchi Story. Her camera turns its attention on the apartments’ residents as they move out and continue their lives in their new homes. Japan’s aging population has created a number of challenging …

Indie-Forum-2019-Feature_Image

Indie Forum 2019

The 2019 Indie Forum section at the Osaka Asian Film Festival presented 10 movies this year, four fewer than 2018 due to fewer short movies in the program. Though the official description touts 7 features and three shorts, one of the features is technically a “mid-length”–again depending on whose standards one subscribes. There were four world premieres and two Japan premieres including the first domestic screening of Demolition Girl which first bowed at the Slamdance Film Festival held simultaneously as Sundance. The enticing lineup certainly beckoned, but an unexpected personal commitment prevented a journey to the festival itself this year. While this negated a firsthand experience, the yearly Indie Forum coverage, a definite fixture on Indievisual, need not be interrupted. With the assistance of OAFF staff, online screeners were requested from the individual filmmakers or their sales agent. At the time of this writing only Okinawan Blue had yet not responded. If and when the filmmakers return a reply, this article will be updated. UPDATED: The Okinawan Blue filmmakers have been in touch and provided …

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 …