All posts tagged: debut feature

Wasted Eggs Feature Image

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 …

Rent a Friend Feature Image

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. …

Blue Hour Feature Image

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 …

Red Comet Club Feature Image

The Red Comet Club

Once every several decades, a red comet becomes observable from the Earth. High school student Jun hears of a curious theory that a time paradox will induced by creating a strong magnetic field when a comet passes. Together with his companions in the astronomy club, he sets about creating a “comet core” which will have the same strong magnetic field as the comets which hurtle through space. Gratifying days pass uneventfully. Jun is surrounded by companions who will immerse themselves in something so trivial; and beside him is his childhood friend, Hana. In fact, the realities of the comet really don’t matter. And there is certainly not a single thing he hopes for. It’s difficult to say if the intriguing yet deceptively simple-sounding premise of director Takei Yuri’s feature-length debut can be labeled “lo-fi sci-fi”, but the final line of the synopsis leads one to think the movie may be worth viewing to find out whether or not the statement is true. Online film site Cinefil.tokyo commented that “Takei Yuri, who timelessly succeeds the bloodline …

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’ …

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 …