Author: Ben Dimagmaliw

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Wasted Eggs

Junko is nearly 30, nearing the customary “best before” age of Japanese society, and is feeling stronger pressure from those around her. Without a significant other or even a particular wish to have children anytime soon, she decides to become an egg donor; and not just for the free Hawaii trip that would be the prize if her candidacy is successful. At a counsellng session, she meets her niece Aki who has similar plans. Together, they soon see how competitive social and evolutionary rules can mess up the best human relationships, particularly when such rules are mixed with the fossilized attitudes of a society which is frantically hanging on to traditions. At the age of 32 when she completed Wasted Eggs, Kawasaki Ryo is almost certainly drawing on real experiences and feelings for a society that continues to pressure women to marry and raise children, and unfortunately many Japanese women still consider to be the epitome of femininity. The decision between having a career or having a family still beleaguers contemporary Japanese women, including filmmakers like …

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Empty

Watarase Machi is an extreme part-timer who bounces around a number of part-time jobs on mornings, afternoons, and evenings for 365 days of the year. One day at the Japanese pub where she works, Machi meets a reclusive artist named Yoshito who wants to use her as a model for a painting. Fascinated by Yoshito’s sketches, she begins living with him as they become further involved. Nevertheless, Machi comes to develop an odd feeling for the image of herself on Yoshito’s canvas.And then she meets an arts writer, Itogawa Yo and ends up conversing with him by parroting what she heard from Yoshito as if it were own thoughts. Yo becomes very interested in Machi and from that day forward she records her conversations with Yoshito and recites them back to Yo on their dates.Machi would have lived as a different person to Yoshito and Yo each, but on Christmas Eve just before the painting is completed, the situation takes a sudden turn. Director Nomura Nao produced this mid-length movie to complete her graduation from …

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Rent a Friend

Do platonic friendships between the sexes really exist? Despite a lack of personal experience, columnist Nasa thinks it’s possible. After a chance encounter with a charming friend-for-hire, she contrives to use his rented friendship to fuel a new article series exploring the topic. Intrigued by rented friend Sota’s concept of a “friendship-romance switch”, Nasa secretly sets out to test their individual limits but quickly finds herself in too deep. When Nasa’s vocalist roommate also finds an easy connection with Sota through their shared passion for music, a messy triangle blurring the lines of friendship and “something more” emerges. – (Australian Center for the Moving Image) Akiyama Mayu’s feature length debut is one of those movies that should be immediately relatable. Not quite a “battle of the sexes,” the movie does pose a question to the audience which has no right answer, but most likely opinions of which fall along gender lines. Akiyama, herself, was inspired by an article about “rental friends.” It prompted her to actually rent one herself whom she interviewed much like the protagonist. …

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Blue Hour

30-year-old commercial ads director Sunada seems to have it all: a successful career, a kind husband, and a stylish Tokyo home far from her rural hometown. But everything is not as it seems behind-the-scenes as she grows disconnected from her husband and feels increasingly anxious about her career in a field women seldom rise to the top. In an attempt to escape her frustrations, she impulsively decides to go on a road trip to the hometown she broke free of so many years ago. Along for the ride is her high-spirited best friend Kiyoura, but her reunion with an alienated family will open old wounds and childhood memories that will only complicate matters further. The story of Sunada is not at all too uncommon. Most people in Tokyo are not from Tokyo, having moved there from other regions, some quite rural, lured either by the dazzle of big city life or the greater job opportunities available there. The fact this is probably true in many other countries as populations continue to shift from rural areas …

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2019: Quality v. Quantity

The third full year of Indievisual brought much improvement in many areas and exciting developments personally for my writing career. No longer bound to comic book work, my first full year of being a dedicated film translator and writer was quite exciting. Though paid work still took precedence over this side project, with my comic career behind me I no longer had to make the mental switch from being visually creative to clearly communicating through language and vocabulary; writing is more right-brained than one might think. The ability to focus specifically on the research and practice of composing articles meant content on Indievisual took a qualitative step forward though in terms of specific figures the results for 2019 were mixed overall. Interviews Only a single interview was published last year, a further drop from the two in 2018. However, there were mitigating circumstances. In addition to my own work schedule, scheduling a follow-up with Yamamoto Hyoe (pictured above) took up quite a bit of time. A busy filmmaker working on a new documentary with changing …

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A Student of Contrasts – Nakano Ryota

Greeting visitors of Nakano Ryota’s homepage is a photograph of the director standing with a resigned expressionlessness in an ankle deep river though his trousers are cinched up mid-thigh. Depending on the size of device display it is being viewed, a wider image reveals he is on location which only enhances the tragicomic quality of the photo. The image was undoubtedly chosen for concisely encapsulating the credo at the filmmaker’s core. Nakano was not, as many of his peers and forerunners may have, particularly enamored with movies or television when he was young. He was, however, conscious of a need to express himself and was attracted to the feedback received from entertaining people around him. In university, this manifested as a foray into music before setting on the road toward a filmmaking career post graduation. His award-winning early short movies as well as his debut feature wrapped somber themes or situations in a unique humor, and at their heart is the portrayal of family which has been central to all his movies perhaps a byproduct …

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Andrew Kirkham: Journey to the East

If life is a journey, then the road which has led Andrew Kirkham from his native United Kingdom to Japan has certainly been an interesting path indeed. Though it is often said the destination is less important than the journey itself, for Andrew his physical and professional journey has literally brought him both to Japanese cinema and the sleepy seaside town of Zushi where he has settled. Along the way he has had to reinvent himself as the industry has evolved over his 39 year career, but he has also met and befriended many people who shared in his journey, some short-term, others life long. And the polestar which has guided him continues to be cinema. “My infatuation with all things world cinema funnily enough grew out of my love of music. I was not a Beatles type person and was always looking for the next interesting musical sound. So began my eclectic tastes in life.” And thanks to the BBC’s late night programming he was exposed early to world cinema through which he first …