All posts tagged: independent film

Beyond the Blue Feature

Beyond the Blue

“Blue Mail” is a letter you receive from your future self. Is it a hopeful message? Or is it sad tidings of misfortune? A young man, Kagari, and a runaway girl, Yuki, meet under trivial circumstances. Both are burdened by a pain they are unable to forget but believing there must be something more ahead of them, they set out for Tokyo. Along the way their past and secrets catch up with them. Hiro Kenichiro has an interesting history. After studying abroad in Texas, he graduated from high school and entered Osaka University’s School of Dentistry. But while there, he began studying 3D graphics at Digital Hollywood and has since been involved in the production of many music and promotional videos. His filmography lists a number of independent shorts and features he’s been making since 2012, including two in English. Though he has been decorated for some, others are competent study pieces; Hiro gradually improving by consistently making movies. Beyond the Blue seems to the first fruits of such labors as evidenced by its competition …

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 …

Call of Zon Feature

Call of Zon

20 years ago the town of Yumetoi was completely enclosed by the mysterious phenomenon known as “Zon”. There were people who impulsively went outside the Zon, but not a single one has ever returned. Now, no one in town would venture beyond the Zon. In a bar where several townspeople gather such as the bar’s proprietor Tsunemoto Michiko. waitress Karino Akira, seminar organizer Ninomiya Kenji, “post-Zon generation” youths Hazama Ippo and Ando Remi among others, the complex relationships of the townspeople unfold. Meanwhile, Hazama and Ando, who have never known the world outside of town from the day they were born, look at the Zon and ponder if anything still exists beyond it. One day, a strange VHS tape from outside the Zon reaches Nagare Kantaro who lives at the very edge of town. Hazama believes it is definitely some message from beyond the Zon and he begins to become captivated by the world beyond the Zon’s periphery. Originally shot in 2014 through the Film School of Tokyo, Suzuki Takuji’s film finally saw theatrical release …

Kuma Elohim Feature

Kuma Elohim

Married couple Ayumu (Furuya Konosuke) and Ema (Murakami Yukino) live on a planet different from Earth. Almost all of the inhabitants of this planet, including Ayumi and Ema, were sent here by the religious group Hanukka Hill from an Earth in danger of depleting its oxygen.On this planet administered by Haukka Hill, childbirth is fervently advocated as it is said to be the most precious thing. People who have grown old become “sacrifices” and are cast away. Ayumu and Ema are without children. For them, their child is an infant doll. Ayumu continues to worry and anguish their inability to conceive a child is his fault. The actions finally taken by the troubled Ayumu will raise questions about family, blood relations, and the prosperity of a species. Director Sakata Takahiro graduated from the Nihon University College of Art’s Cinema program following in the footsteps of some of Japan cinema’s leading directors such as Ishii Gakuryu, Tominaga Masanori, and Irie Yu who also were educated there. The 23-year-old “troublemaker” appears to have a penchant for tackling …

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’ …

Eye-On-She's-Gone

She’s Gone

Kotoko, a teenage girl who just entered high school, does not have any friends. School life, home, and even TV have been far from enjoyable for her lately. At school, the seat behind her is empty. Seto Sachi, the frail girl who sits there, is recovering from an illness in a hospital. Although they have never met, Kotoko knows her by her nickname “Satchan”. When asked by her mother whether she has made any friends at school, Kotoko tells her that she has made a friend named “Satchan.” From then on, Kotoko starts spending time with Satchan, an imaginary friend born out of a lie. The streets they walk, the parfait they ate together… Kotoko’s high school life means nothing without Satchan. Then one day, she finally meets the real Satchan in person – but at her funeral. Writer, director and editor Ogawa Sara is also an actress whom you might have seen in Innocent 15 or The Sacrament which garnered her a Best Actress award at Moosic Lab 2017. She is currently a student at Waseda University studying film …