All posts tagged: indie production

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 …

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 …

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 …