Author: Ben Dimagmaliw


2022 Festival Season: Latter Half

The first half of the festival season will often set trends (see the first part published on the blog site). Some of the movies featured at festivals early in the year will filter their way through various events held in the second half. Meanwhile, Japanese filmmakers will also be seeking entry into the late year festivals which are also searching to premiere yet undiscovered works, particularly many key domestic events as well as ones throughout Asia. There was a distinct celebratory air at many of the festivals which were putting their best foot forward toward a return to pre-COVID pageantry.

2022 Year In Review Feature Image

2022 Year-in-Review

Looking back at the year that was 2022 now three months into 2023 feels somewhat akin to returning home after going on holiday for a few weeks. Nothing has really changed. Everything is right where they had been prior to departing. A review of the “creative resolutions” made in the 2021 Year In Review is all one needs to corroborate this fact. 1) A refresh of the design, something I’ve been thinking about since 2019. There have been no improvements to the site’s design, not even a fresh coat of paint. The backend platform which allowed the current site to remain live at the same time changes were being made on a “test” site mandated an upgrade in current services at a substantial increase to current costs. All things considered, a design refresh is still possible without the upgrade, but that would mean taking the site offline while changes are being made. Therefore, in order to prevent an extended downtime of the site, a significant time investment needs to be dedicated to the redesign work; …

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My Small Land

Sarya has lived in Japan since she was five. She pretends to be German to her friends, which is easier than telling the truth. In reality, Sarya’s parents are Kurds who travelled from Turkey to Japan as refugees. Furthermore, she is responsible for her younger siblings while her father is at work. Despite the hardships, the future seems bright and soon, Sarya will be attending college. A tender relationship develops with her work colleague Sota, and her own feelings begin to surface. All Sarya wants is a completely normal life. However, when her father’s application for asylum is denied, she is increasingly torn apart. (Berlin International Film Festival 2022) Kawawada Emma Kore-eda Hirokazu’s Bun-Buku Productions has been nurturing directors in recent years, Nishikawa Miwa of course, but also documentary filmmaker Sunada Mami of Death of a Japanese Salesman and The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness; and most recently Hirose Nanako who debuted with His Lost Name and followed with the documentary Book-Paper-Scissors. Ibaraki Prefecture native Kawawada Emma studied theatre and film at Waseda University prior to joining Bun-Buku Productions in 2014. …

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Intimate Stranger

46-year-old Megumi is a single mother who works at a baby clothing store. Her beloved 17-year-old son, Shinpei went missing a year ago, and she has desperately been looking for him ever since. One day, a shady young man, Yuji approaches her, saying that he knows her son’s whereabouts. Trying to find a lead, Megumi invites Yuji to stay with her. While trying to deceive Megumi, Yuji discovers a dark secret that is beyond his imagination. (Festival Scope) Nakamura Mayu Nakamura earned her MFA at the Graduate film Program at New York University. Her first narrative feature was 2006’s The Summer of Sticklebackwhich premiered in the competition section of the Busan International Film Festival. She then moved into documentary filmmaking with the feature Lonely Swallows-Living as the Children of Migrant Workers which followed Japanese-Brazilian children struggling to survive in Japan and Brazil. It won the Documentary Grand Prix at the Brazilian Film Festival. Her next documentary was Alone in Fukushima which focuses on a man who has stayed in Fukushima’s nuclear zone to attend to animals left behind there. She recently …

Nighthawk's First Love feature iamge

The Nighthawk’s First Love

Graduate student Aiko has a conspicuous facial birthmark that made her a target of bullying as a child and sapped her confidence as a woman. When a book partly based on her life is adapted to film, she falls for its director. However, her feelings are not reciprocated. Yasukawa Yuka A native of Nara Prefecture, Yasukawa had an interest in movies and paintings when she was younger, and counts Bergman, Fassbinder and Kurosawa Kiyoshi as her influences. She enrolled in Osaka College of Art and Design where she studied film and video production. After directing several short films, she won a grant from CO2 (Cineastes Organization Osaka) to make her feature-length directorial debut, Dressing Up. The movie dealt with a 7th grade girl opening a Pandora’s Box of secrets about her mother as she herself struggles to gain control of her own being. The movie won the Grand Prix at the 14th TAMA NEW WAVE in 2013 and in 2015 Yasukawa self-distributed its release in theaters nationwide. She then won the 25th Japanese Professional Movie Awards …

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Ito Soma is a high school student in Hirosaki City, Aomori. Her hobby is playing the Tsugaru shamisen, a three-string instrument that is popular in her home prefecture. She picked up the skill from her late mother, a talented shamisen player in her own right. While Ito can express herself through music, talking is a little harder due to shyness, which, when coupled with her strong Tsuguru dialect, makes it hard for her to communicate. And so she has few friends but, despite this, she has a strong inner spirit and she makes a big decision to start a part-time job at a maid cafe, much to the concern of her father Koichi. With every meeting that Ito has, her confidence begins to grow. (Osaka Asian Film Festival) Yokohama Satoko Born in Aomori Prefecture, Yokohama studied filmmaking at the The Film School of Tokyo. She made her directorial debut with Chiemi-chan to Kokkun Batcho in 2005 which won Best Film at the CO2 Open Competition. The grant she earned helped her make her second feature German + Rain which …