All posts tagged: female director

Until Rainbow Dawn Feature Image

Until Rainbow Dawn

Takahashi Hana and Hoshino Ayumi are two deaf women who meet at a sign language society. Though bewildered by her attraction to someone of the same sex, Hana begins dating Ayumi. Some time later, Hana returns to her family home. When she tells her parents about her relationship with Ayumi, she could not foresee being rejected by her usually supportive mother. Shocked by her mother’s rebuff, Hana nevertheless is unable to sever her ties with Ayumi. Meanwhile, Ayumi is unable to bear the sight of Hana’s distress and invites her to a hearing impaired LGBT event taking place in Tokyo which she found out by chance. There the two meet and engage with deaf LGBT people for the first time and gradually, Hana’s heart starts to blossom. Imai Mika’s movie has been making the rounds at LGBTQ specific film festivals around the world, placing focus more on the two women’s love story than the fact the movies performers and its director (plus a good portion of the staff) are themselves hearing impaired. It would be …

I Quit Being Friends Feature Image

I Quit, Being “Friends”

What is common sense to you, makes no sense to me. What is ordinary to me, is off-putting to you Worn out from reading too much into different situations, and unable to get along well with people, that’s Asperger’s syndrome Ma-chan. Having the appearance of understanding, but filled with agony inside, that’s me, the film director. From some petty misunderstandings, our relationship becomes strained, but, is it because of her Asperger’s? Or is it a problem with me? We have to try to understand each other…I have to try to be a good person…Ah, but! In order to stay friends with Ma-chan, I turned the camera on us, and began filming, but the answer I arrived at was, I quit being “friends”. Imamura Ayako shot her self-documentary Start Line to tackle her own frustrations at avoiding personal issues revolving her deafness–namely communication with people–by riding a bicycle across the length of Japan. Here she once again tackles human interaction by documenting her relationship with her friend who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Given Imamura’s own insecurities about her deafness, …

37 Seconds Feature Image

37 Seconds

In order to escape her oppressive home life and stop working as a ghost writer, Yuma, a naive paraplegic comic book artist begins to illustrate for an erotic manga, but is told by the sympathetic editor to come back once she has some actual sexual experience. Yuma’ s first encounter with a male prostitute at a “Love Hotel” ends in disaster, but it is there that she meets Mai, a sex worker specializing in caring for the handicapped. And so begins Yuma’s unexpected journey of self-discovery. Not much needs to be written about director HIKARI’s feature film debut that hasn’t already been proven by the dozens of festival berths and awards it has been accumulating in addition to being picked up by Netflix for distribution. The result of almost three and a half years of research and interviews, 37 Seconds presents an honest, fresh look at a person with a disability that challenges the audiences’ preconceptions and perhaps even prejudices.  Beating out a hundred hopefuls in open auditions held across Japan, lead actress Kayama Mei is a …

Swallow Backstory Main

Serving Up Horror: Nakanishi Mai shares the backstory of her sophomore short Swallow

In Swallow a striving actress is invited to a private, gourmet club only to discover her competition has prepared a horrifying banquet which devours her. Writer-director Nakanishi Mai follows up her haunting and atmospheric short Hana with a tale of the horrific depths to which human rivalries will go. Though she has worked for large companies such as Kadokawa, the bonafide genre fan has also dedicated time abroad collaborating with international genre stalwarts particularly in the realm of horror movies. Additionally, she founded the Scream Queen FilmFest Tokyo in 2013, a female-driven genre festival dedicated to sharing the unique and diverse visions that female artists bring to genre movies. With Hana, her directorial debut, she herself has become an exciting new voice in horror. And as with any sophomore effort, building upon the success of the first while continuing to creatively evolve took Nakanishi on a journey of opportunities and interesting turns. The seeds of Swallow first germinated in a short movie script which was scheduled to be shot in Korea that was cancelled. A Taiwanese producer told Nakanishi about a short …

Taste of Emptiness Feature Image

Taste of Emptiness

High schooler Satoko lives a comfortable life surrounded by kind parents and close friends. An ever so small uneasiness begins to grow in her life. It’s an indescribable anxiety, and impulses she can not prevent. Satoko realizes that at some point she has become mired in an eating disorder. Not knowing the reason why, Satoko’s anxiety grows and steadily traps her as her relationship with family and friends also grow strained. Then one day in town she happens upon a dangerous seeming woman, Maki. Her interactions with Maki is a release for Satoko. Based on director Tsukada Marina’s actual experiences of suffering an eating disorder while a university student, her debut feature deals with a sadly universal problem throughout the world. But the movie does not aim to dwell on the disorder nor the motivations which engendered it. Though the heroine’s anguish is very much Tsukada’s own, she hoped to draw focus on what turned her on the path to recovery. As it turns out, she met a woman on whom the character of Maki …

Red Snow Feature Image

Red Snow

Thirty years ago, a young boy disappeared amid mysterious circumstances involving a sociopath, her troubled daughter, and a devastating fire. Today, what is known of the tragedy is shrouded in a morass of clouded and fictionalised memories, stubborn silence, and well-rehearsed lies. When a journalist arrives intent on getting to the bottom of the long-closed case, a tinderbox of pent-up emotions and misplaced guilt ignites; a spiral of violence erupts from the clash of competing histories and debilitating psychological injuries. (Int’l FF Marrakesh) The first thing one will notice about Red Snow is its distinctive palette and cinematography. At face value this accomplishes to provide the crime-centered story a noir aesthetic, but it is also safe to say this director who originally worked in the short film format and in video art was also looking to visualize the muddled nature of human memory at the core of the characters’ psyche also essential to noir. Strong thematics and powerful imagery have been a hallmark for Kai who has co-directed several acclaimed short movies, while her solo directorial shorts have …

Life Untitled Feature Image

Life: Untitled

On the fourth floor of an anonymous building, the lives of female escorts intersect as they wait for calls from their customers. Kano (Sairi Ito) has just joined the group. Quickly disillusioned, she nonetheless sticks around as an employee, managing bookings, cleaning up, and bearing witness to the lives of her coworkers. An eclectic group of women gravitate around the place, their lives “yet to be titled”, yet full of unspoken dreams, desires, heartbreaks and rivalries – all repressed in the face of the everyday misogyny inherent to the trade, and to Japanese society. (Fantasia Film Festival) There are more than a few reviews of Yamada Kana’s debut feature which reference the legendary filmmaker Mizoguchi Kenji in comparing how it differs from the “tradition” of brothel-set movies in Japanese cinema, specifically in how it portrays sex workers with dignity despite their lower social status and stigma of their profession. Other genres have served up the hooker, the call girl, etc. for more exploitive purposes. As Japan Cuts writes: “Portraying an industry frequently exploited in Japanese media …