Author: Ben Dimagmaliw

Indievisual Bookshop Announcement Image

Introducing the Indievisual Bookshop

Indievisual was started as a medium for supporting and crusading Japanese indie filmmakers and their movies. At the very foundation of these efforts is a strong, fundamental belief in and affinity for the unsung artist or small business. Purchasing directly from artists such as musicians and the patronage of local businesses whenever possible remains an integral aspect of daily life. Setting aside the marginal opportunities for indie films to be seen for the moment, one industry continues struggling to hold back the encroachment made to physical retailing by a single, dominant player. Publishing and book sellers are attempting to survive and remain essential in the age of Amazon. Bookshop.org has come on to the scene to give local brick and mortar bookstores the online reach of their Goliath rival. Details behind the creation, intent, and business model of Bookshop.org can be read Here or Here. Bookshop’s platform provides participating booksellers, publishers, artists, or online media with a virtual “shop” where books can be listed for visitors to purchase in direct support of small, independent booksellers as …

Indie Forum 2020 OAFF Poster

Indie Forum 2020

The 2020 Osaka Asian Film Festival took place under the shadow of COVID-19. Though at the time of this writing (April 7th, 2020) the Japanese central government is preparing a state of emergency in seven prefectures, Osaka itself had already been dealing with rising cluster infections and stricter protocols since early March. The organizers made the difficult choice of holding the festival due to immutable commitments, but cancelled scheduled symposiums, social events, and most importantly post-screening Q&A’s. Concerns about COVID-19 aside, scheduling once again prevented personal attendance this year, but thanks to the festival’s press relations representative and with the cooperation of the filmmakers, the 2020 Indie Forum lineup could be evaluated through remote viewing. The 2020 Indie Forum offered a lineup with common themes of self-identity, broken families, and social anxiety. Whether or not the programming staff intentionally chose to select movies around these themes or this year’s entrants were primarily focused on such issues, it is clear filmmakers are reflecting a contemporary Japan being affected by divorce, social media, economic inequality, and uncertainty …

2019 Year In Review Feature Image

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 …

Nakano-Interview-Feature-Image

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 …

Andrew Kirkham Feature Image

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 …

Yamamoto Hyoe Interview Feature Image

Insider Looking Out – Yamamoto Hyoe

Becoming a filmmaker requires specific skills. An understanding of and practical experience with film production techniques is a matter of course, however a non-English speaking filmmaker will also need to become English proficient if they aspire to the world stage. Unfortunately, the language barrier is still a daunting and significant obstacle for a large majority of Japanese filmmakers in 2019. Yamamoto Hyoe perhaps innately sensed the importance of learning English when he left Japan to attend high school in Massachusetts before entering NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts to study film production. Back in the mid-to-late 90s, this made him somewhat of a trailblazer if not an oddity, but doing so would give Yamamoto early insight regarding how filmmaking, like language, possesses a cultural component which can not be fully understood until one fully immerses oneself in that culture. From the creative process to business fundamentals, major and independent film production alike in the U.S. does differ from Japan’s idiosyncratic film industry–sometimes significantly. This education and experience is brought to the fore in Yamamoto’s debut …

Eye-On-Orphans'-Blues

Orphans’ Blues

Ema exists in a world where summer seems to go on forever. Recently, she’s become rather forgetful so she always has a notebook handy, and there are all sorts of notes pasted everywhere at home as well. One day she receives a drawing of an elephant in the mail from Yan, a childhood friend from her days at an orphanage whose whereabouts are currently unknown. Hoping to see her dear friend again, Ema sets out on a journey to find Yan using the letter’s postmark as a clue. Along the way, she happens to run into Ban whom she’s known since childhood like Yan, and also makes the acquaintance of Yuri, Ban’s girlfriend. Having failed in their attempt to flee to Tahiti, Ban and Yuri slowly but surely become companions on Ema’s journey. Meanwhile, Ema’s feelings toward Yan are beginning to intensify as is her dread over her accelerating memory loss. Fukuoka born Kudo Riho decided to pursue filmmaking in her second year of high school. She had been moved by Nishi Kanako’s novel ‘Sakura’ …