All posts tagged: independent film

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 …

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 …