All posts tagged: short movies

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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 …

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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 …

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Indie Forum 2019

The 2019 Indie Forum section at the Osaka Asian Film Festival presented 10 movies this year, four fewer than 2018 due to fewer short movies in the program. Though the official description touts 7 features and three shorts, one of the features is technically a “mid-length”–again depending on whose standards one subscribes. There were four world premieres and two Japan premieres including the first domestic screening of Demolition Girl which first bowed at the Slamdance Film Festival held simultaneously as Sundance. The enticing lineup certainly beckoned, but an unexpected personal commitment prevented a journey to the festival itself this year. While this negated a firsthand experience, the yearly Indie Forum coverage, a definite fixture on Indievisual, need not be interrupted. With the assistance of OAFF staff, online screeners were requested from the individual filmmakers or their sales agent. At the time of this writing only Okinawan Blue had yet not responded. If and when the filmmakers return a reply, this article will be updated. UPDATED: The Okinawan Blue filmmakers have been in touch and provided …

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Made in Japan

A brutal murder by a minor happens along the river of an industrial area. Kyoichi works at a factory nearby and happens upon an article about the crime in a magazine. He realizes the culprit was a subordinate at the place he worked part-time a while ago. When Kyoichi posts this realization on Twitter, he is inundated with interview requests from the mass media. So, he accepts an offer from a reporter. The latest by Matsumoto Yusaku is a 30 minute short which takes on media sensationalism and that buzzword of the times “fake news” through the story’s developments. He aims to ask important questions about whether or not the mass media acknowledges and takes responsibility for lies compounded by more lies after they gobble up and sensationalize a story. Conversely, he also seeks to question the populace’s seeming disinterest in learning the actual truth to the latest media scandals, challenging unempathetic attitudes in either creating, consuming, or propagating information in the age of social media. The trailer below again displays Matsumoto’s penchant for holding …

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The Lasting Persimmon

Risaki is coming back home to her wintery countryside, Yamagata which is 400 km away from Tokyo. There she finds the seemingly unchanging snowy life of her beloved family and home village—snow shoveling, making pickles, bridges over a big river covered with snow, and persimmon fruits left unharvested on its tree. The original Japanese title of Chikaura Kei’s 2016 short movie is Nagori-Gaki which is a type of Japanese persimmon that become very ripe and sweet when left unharvested to endure the brutal winter. This is a custom in northern areas of Japan in order for travelers and birds to have something to eat. “Warm, Gentle and Strong” is how Chikaura described the people from the region and their customs that inspired The Lasting Persimmon. Homepage at: http://persimmonfilms.com

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After the Exhibition

At the closing of his exhibition in the rural city of Mito, local artist Qualia declares “I don’t feel like going home” and loiters around the gallery. His girlfriend and his friends ultimately begin filtering out the door. Then Qualia comes up with an idea. Though shorter than YEAH, at 24 minutes, there is still no less to be digested in Suzuki’s observation about the nature of our interactions with one another depending on the situation. In the case of After the Exhibtion, Qualia–a real-life artist whom Suzuki befriended in Mito–is seen in different lights, when he is at the front of the gallery versus the time he spends in the gallery’s “backyard”. Or in other words, the separation between our public and private selves. Currently, Suzuki is working on his second feature-length, tentatively titled “Abokke” which will also be set in Mito and by all accounts may have already begun shooting.

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Indie Forum 2018

The 2018 Osaka Asian Film Festival once again beckoned with its Indie Forum section offering a mix of surprising, delightful, thoughtful, and once in a while challenging movies thus preserving its position as an important showcase of independent Japanese cinema. Read about the twelve films viewed.