Author: Ben Dimagmaliw

Eye-On-Girls'-Encounter

Girl’s Encounter

Miyuri, a vulnerable adolescent, has been driven to the brink by pressures from her provincial school and university entrance exams as well as the viciousness of her classmates, who even toss away her only companion, a silkworm. But then a mysterious new student, Tsumugi, suddenly arrives and begins to spin webs of connection, aspiration, secrets, adventure and sensuality that transform Miyuri. But what secrets is Tsumugi herself hiding? And what, indeed, does a silkworm become when it grows up? (HKIFF Catalogue) A graduate of Toyo University’s Department of Media Communications, director Eda Yuka won consecutive audience awards at the Waseda Film Festival (as well as a Special Jury Prize) while a student. She is also an accomplished photographer who has been commissioned by fashion magazines such ‘ViVi’ among others since her graduation. Marking her feature length debut, Girl’s Encounter first drew attention when Miss iD 2016 Hoshi Moeka and model Motola Serina were cast and its budget was funded through crowdfunding. Its Japanese release achieved a rare two-month extended run through a fervent following which allowed Eda …

Eye-On-She-Is-Alone

She Is Alone

High school student Sumiko jumped off a bridge on account of a certain incident, but failed in her attempt to kill herself. Having escaped the grips of death, she returns to school a few months later and soon begins terrorizing her classmate and childhood friend, Hideaki, upon learning he is secretly dating one of the teachers at their school. As Sumiko continues to antagonize and rebuff others, her actions steadily escalate…all for the sake of sustaining her own sense of peril. Director Nakagawa Natsuki graduated from the College of Arts, Rikkyo University and went to study filmmaking at the New Cinema Workshop. She then returned to Rikkyo enrolling in the Graduate Program in Body Expression and Cinematic Arts, Graduate School of Contemporary Psychology. Thereafter she entered the Graduate School of Film and New Media at Tokyo University of the Arts [TUA hereafter]. Though her school history suggests a constant academic pursuit of cinema, in truth the reason for her traversal through various programs was far more pragmatic. In an interview with SKIP City (where She Is …

Eye-On-Sayounara

Sayounara

High school student Yuki lived a peaceful, uneventful life until one day Aya, her classmate since middle school, is killed in a car accident. Her other classmates were at the beginning saddened by Aya’s death, but when a rumor Aya killed herself is spread, their sudden change in attitude causes turmoil among them. Yuki stands up to a classmate who is maligning Aya and as a result is ostracized by the rest of the girls in her class. Meanwhile, unexpected repercussions also begin to spread among the relationships of Yuki’s classmates. Ishibashi Yuho directed her first independent film while attending Toyo Gakuen University. Her 2015 short Bokura no Saigo was screened at numerous film festivals in Japan. She followed with several more short movies which have garnered attention in one form or another including 2016’s Sorekara no Koto, Korekara no Koto starring Imou Haruka all while working a number of part-time jobs over those years. Apparently still employed at a job unrelated to the film industry, making her debut feature was also fraught with the challenges of independent …

Eye-On-Domains

Domains

Aki and Naoko are childhood friends who are drifting apart as adults. Immersed in her family life, Naoko now has a husband and daughter; Aki, on the other hand, remains single and is on leave from work due to a personal crisis. The plot might sound familiar but it has never been told like this. The director Kusano Natsuka stages the interactions through an actors’ table-read and, as the lines are repeated, the scenes gradually develop into on-location conversations. Moreover, she repositions the dramatic peak of the story to the beginning: Aki has murdered Naoko’s daughter. Structurally inventive, Kusano’s daring cinema implements ‘distantiation’ effects to get to the heart of friendship issues at times when life has settled. While the repetitions convey the suffocation of role patterns in both friendship and family, a line left out or added in unsettles and reminds us life can take unexpected turns. (IFFR 2018) Kusano Natsuka’s Best Director and SKIP City Award-winning debut Antonym is an intriguing character study of a relationship between opposites, of differences that define the other as the …

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 …