All posts tagged: indie production

Eye-On-The-Hungry-Lion

The Hungry Lion

The internet was once hailed as the “information super highway”; information would travel across vast distances at incredible speeds allowing people to have more access to more types of information than they ever had before. Today, however, the internet more closely resembles a battleground than a highway, with information becoming the barbs and arrows of the media and its consumers. It is becoming more difficult to differentiate fact from fiction. “Fake News” has probably come to be the defining phrase of 2017 and perhaps beyond. Director Ogata Takaomi was aware of the way the mass media was beginning to trade away its obligation to provide objective information for the sake of profitability and audience size long ago. His latest movie, The Hungry Lion throws into relief how the proliferation of convenient means to record and disseminate information across the vastness of the internet is not only turning us into prey, but potential predators as well thanks to a mass media that is packaging information for ready consumption by a hungry public. One morning, 18-year-old Hitomi’s …

Eye-On-Blanka

Blanka

There is the phrase, “appearances can be deceiving,” and this may best describe many people’s perception of poverty, especially when it may define the image of a particular place or country. Having been born and raised for a few years in the Philippines, I was never aware of my country as being a “less fortunate” one. But even as I grew up and I became aware the Philippines did have economic and political instabilities which kept many living in poverty, return trips to visit family never impressed upon me the woeful image many abroad held for the people living in makeshift shacks on squatted land; to this day I see commercials by non-profit organizations asking for support in the aid of children earning their living rummaging through trash on a once smoldering pile of refuse known locally as “Smokey Mountain.” No matter what the world may see when they gazed at those intentionally heart-rending (read: manipulative) depictions, I knew the Filipino spirit was more vibrant, indomitable, and selfless than in many countries to which those …

Eye-on-Reminiscentia

Reminiscentia

Memories are probably the second most complex aspect of the human experience next to our emotions. They are incredibly powerful, able to take us back in time to relive moments again even to the point of engaging any and all of our five senses. Memories help keep us connected to the people and places which we maintain as precious experiences. However, memories can be sources of great sadness and pain. This dual nature of our memories is at the heart of Reminiscentia, an independent Russian-language movie made by Japanese director, Inoue Masaki. Mikhail is a novelist who lives a quiet life with his beloved daughter, Milenia, on the outskirts of a Russian city. Troubled people come to Mikhail asking him to erase their memories with his uniquely special gift. The ideas for his novels come from the memories he removes from others. Then one day, Mikhail notices a portion of his memories with his daughter is gone. Distressed by being unable to recollect the past, Mikhail goes to the church to pray. Thereupon he encounters Maria, …

Eye-On_Ow

Ow

Suzuki Yohei’s Ow has been one of those movies that seemed to have slipped through the cracks, or perhaps been a bit ahead of its time. After getting made as a 9th CO2 grant movie, it was completed in 2014. Only now, three years later, will Suzuki’s efforts finally see a domestic release. This might be a good time, then, to revisit this unique entry in Japanese indie films in commeration of its July opening in Shibuya. Described as an indie “whatsit” (as opposed to a “whodunnit”), or a blackly comic episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’, Suzuki’s movie defies easy categorization. In fact, in their review of Ow, Slant Film used Spielberg and Jarmusch in the same sentence to praise Suzuki’s deft direction as possessing a “Spielbergian flair for capturing how the comforts and discomforts of cohabitation seem to nest within one another, as well as a Jarmuschian taste for mining social alienation for the occasional stray deadpan punchline.” (Chuck Bowen) Having his eyes opened to cinema by the genre movies of David Cronenberg and …

EyeOn-Sapphire-Featured-Image

Sapphire

Action and genre movies are the bread and butter of low-budget/indie filmmaking. So, it’s absence from many indie movies in Japan is rather pecuiliar. Horror movies certainly are represented, but action movies, from martial arts to swordplay movies, are quite few and far between. Even more rare are gun-action movies and the ones that do exist are usually not very convincing. This is due to the unavailability of guns which act like their real counterparts; stunt guns. Even studio movies suffer from weaponry with little to no recoil, no casing ejection, and only the barest of muzzle flash in addition to the lack of squibs which accurately portray the mayhem of a gunfight. However, a veteran Japanese prop master has devised a way to upgrade model guns to act like real guns for a fraction of the cost it takes to downgrade real guns to perform as stunt guns perhaps signalling a possible renaissance in Japanese gunplay movies, especially in independent movie circles. Yonishi Toshinari’s Sapphire is a girls-with-guns movie taken to the next level. …

Indievisual-100-Meter-Films-Feature

The Measure of Success

Synchrony is defined as “simultaneous action, development, or occurrence.” What better word to describe the connection between John Williams (no, not that one) and Shiozaki Shohei, the two principles of production company, 100 Meter Films. From an early age, both men had become enamored with movies. The Welsh raised Williams began making 16mm experimental movies with a used Bolex at the age of fourteen after a viewing of Werner Herzog’s Aguirre: The Wrath of God kindled a desire to pick up a camera. Similarly, Shiozaki’s interest in filmmaking was first kindled when he began watching movies at the theater while a high school student in Nara Prefecture. He realized then how the moving image could emotionally influence the viewer. Both also eventually uprooted themselves from their homeland. Williams went to teach English in Japan. Intending on tapping Japan’s Bubble Era prosperity to save for film school, he ended up shooting independent shorts instead. Likewise, Shiozaki crossed the Pacific Ocean to attend San Jose State University as a film student. Then in 2001 the parallel trajectories …

OAFF-Special-Report-Main-Visual

The Osaka Asian Film Festival: Beacon in the West

East and West, two directions on a compass which have often taken on much more significance than their navigational meanings. On a macro-scale, the differences between the two play out on an entirely different stage, becoming equally representative of global ideologies. On a micro level, the terms can be more innocuous. Take for example, Los Angeles and New York; representative cities of the east and west coasts of the United States. One could travel from one city to the other in a few hours, but the cultural distance between the two is likely far wider. New York’s high-rise, hustle-and-bustle metropolis is a far cry from the laid back, urban expanse stitched together by miles of congested freeways that is Los Angeles. New York is the capital of theatre. Los Angeles is the home of Hollywood. New York is a melting pot of ethnicities, while it could be argued Los Angeles is more a fusion of cultures. The rivalry and differences between Japan’s Kanto (East) region and Kansai (West) regions, particularly between the cities of Osaka …