All posts tagged: female director

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-Danchi-Woman

Danchi Woman

For the past 3 decades 85-year-old Uchikoshi Shizu has been living in the 50-year-old Seaside Road “Danchi” – the Japanese word for public housing – and filling it with a lifetime of souvenirs that have always kept her company. Due to the scheduled demolition of the complex to rebuild them as newer danchi, Uchikoshi and the women in the apartment are faced with problems of relocation and rent. Uchikoshi and her neighbors must say goodbye to their homes, and move into smaller apartments that cannot hold all of Uchikoshi’s momentos. This intimate documentary captures Uchikoshi’s sense of humor and profound nostalgia, as she sorts through relics of her past, choosing which memories she must fit into her new home, and which ones she can let go of. Director Sugimoto Akiko had covered this very same public housing complex in her independent film Seaside Road Danchi Story. Her camera turns its attention on the apartments’ residents as they move out and continue their lives in their new homes. Japan’s aging population has created a number of challenging …

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Killer Smile – Asakura Kayoko

There is a perceptual problem in cinema that women are not suited for or interested in directing genre movies. Making such an assumption about Asakura Kayoko based on her model-esque stature and charming smile would be a disservice to the well-versed director and passionate fan of genre fare. At the 2014 Etheria Film Night where Asakura’s slow burn horror short HIDE and SEEK screened, feminist magazine ‘Bitch Media‘ reported a man expressing incredulity the evening’s chills and thrills were directed by Asakura and the other female filmmakers who walked on stage post-screening. Many male directors have become reliable brand names of genre movies, but there are few female directors with equal clout. The fact Asakura has had even fewer working female directors in her native Japan to venerate, especially in genres such as horror, makes the attention she has gained to date all the more remarkable. Raised in Yamaguchi Prefecture, her first encounter with cinema was in the form of Steven Spielberg’s E.T. when she was young child. After graduating high school she left Yamaguchi in …

Eye-On-Manga-Tanjo

The Manga Master

Updated 2018/10/08: Added new trailer in anticipation of its World Premiere at the Tokyo International Festival The proliferation of manga across the globe has been one of the pillars of the Japanese government’s economic soft power initiative, “Cool Japan” which also works to spread Japanese culture internationally. Many Japanese are often surprised by how knowledgeable foreigners can be regarding many popular manga titles as well as the increasing number of tourists who flock to Japan to consume and experience manga culture first hand. That being said, the roots of the medium itself is most likely unknown to both Japanese and international fans alike. Revealing the little known history of manga is the aim of The Manga Master which is directed by Oki Moe who is helming her second feature. Her debut work, Firecracker Ideals was a purely independent spin on the contemporary morose of young people as they grow to see the wide disparity between their life idealized through youthful ambitions versus unwelcome realities. It was hailed as a confident movie capturing some of the …

Eye-On-Tale-of-a-Butcher-Shop

Tale of a Butcher Shop

There is a German documentary from 2005 titled Our Daily Bread. Without narration or much in the way of music, it brought to light with mesmerizing visuals the impact convenience and modern mass-production methods have had on the food we consume. The meditative quality of the documentary left reaction solely to the viewers, be it shock, disgust, amazement, etc. On first look, Hanabusa Aya’s 2013 documentary Tale of a Butcher Shop may well be the Japanese pseudo-companion piece. The local butcher shop remains a visible and well-loved part of many communities throughput Japan. But like everywhere, these are slowly disappearing feature of the landscape due to modernization and demands for meat to be sold at volume and for low prices. The Kitades are a family who live outside Osaka. They have been raising and slaughtering the cows they sell for meat at their small butcher shop for over 100 years. As the family embark upon their decision to close shop in response to competition from corporate supermarkets, the three butcher siblings contemplate life afterwards. By …