All posts tagged: short movies

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25 Japanese Directors Talk Pandemic and Looking Ahead

As 2021 opened much of the entertainment industry was still reeling from the impact brought on by the pandemic. Though productions are once again ramping up, they have to do so under strict safety protocols issued by labor unions and respective film commissions in the locales filming takes place. Meanwhile, the exhibition industry which bore the brunt of damage is still facing challenges of delayed release schedules, being circumvented by digital releases, and local safety protocols. Similarly, film festivals have had to adapt to the pandemic by formulating new ways to hold their events–those which could–though it remains to be seen whether they will be able to return to pre-pandemic operations in the near future. Reflecting on these as well as learning about movies which were filmed about or around the pandemic led to a desire to ask Japanese filmmakers two questions: 1.How did the pandemic in 2020 impact the work with which you are involved or productions you are or will be working on? 2.Moving forward, in other words a world “post-COVID,” has this …

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Not So Breaking News

2020 has been a year for the books. Aside from the political and social elephants in the room, this year will go down in memory as completely unique, full of unexpected developments which have not been experienced in the past. As this pertains to Indievisual, the impact of the pandemic were twofold. First, the outset of COVID-19 put a stop to the entertainment industry, from film festivals to theatrical releases. With productions as well grinding to a halt, the very lifeblood of Indievisual also came to a standstill. Second, the circumstances removed the need for translation services causing –much like the rest of the world at the time–substantial professional insecurity. In mid-April, the Japan central government itself declared a state of emergency in lieu of a lockdown which it lacked the authority to impose as per its constitution. Anxiety deepened over whether the Japanese film industry would recover, and accordingly whether there would be any translation work for the remainder of the year. Then an odd thing happened. A month later, the state of emergency …

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Indie Forum 2020

The 2020 Osaka Asian Film Festival took place under the shadow of COVID-19. Though at the time of this writing (April 7th, 2020) the Japanese central government is preparing a state of emergency in seven prefectures, Osaka itself had already been dealing with rising cluster infections and stricter protocols since early March. The organizers made the difficult choice of holding the festival due to immutable commitments, but cancelled scheduled symposiums, social events, and most importantly post-screening Q&A’s. Concerns about COVID-19 aside, scheduling once again prevented personal attendance this year, but thanks to the festival’s press relations representative and with the cooperation of the filmmakers, the 2020 Indie Forum lineup could be evaluated through remote viewing. The 2020 Indie Forum offered a lineup with common themes of self-identity, broken families, and social anxiety. Whether or not the programming staff intentionally chose to select movies around these themes or this year’s entrants were primarily focused on such issues, it is clear filmmakers are reflecting a contemporary Japan being affected by divorce, social media, economic inequality, and uncertainty …

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A Student of Contrasts – Nakano Ryota

Greeting visitors of Nakano Ryota’s homepage is a photograph of the director standing with a resigned expressionlessness in an ankle deep river though his trousers are cinched up mid-thigh. Depending on the size of device display it is being viewed, a wider image reveals he is on location which only enhances the tragicomic quality of the photo. The image was undoubtedly chosen for concisely encapsulating the credo at the filmmaker’s core. Nakano was not, as many of his peers and forerunners may have, particularly enamored with movies or television when he was young. He was, however, conscious of a need to express himself and was attracted to the feedback received from entertaining people around him. In university, this manifested as a foray into music before setting on the road toward a filmmaking career post graduation. His award-winning early short movies as well as his debut feature wrapped somber themes or situations in a unique humor, and at their heart is the portrayal of family which has been central to all his movies perhaps a byproduct …

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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 …