27TH TOKYO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL : SHINING A SPOTLIGHT ON JAPANESE ANIMATION (PART 3)
27TH TOKYO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL : SHINING A SPOTLIGHT ON JAPANESE ANIMATION (PART 3)
Days after the opening ceremony, .this year’s TIFF seems successfully gained more audience to watch the movie lineup in its public screenings. With more special events over the various venues and stage appearance in Roppongi Hills, the hype was still continued.
In TOHO Cinemas Nihonbashi, after the Pikmin short movies screening featuring the father of Nintendo’s video game, Shigeru Miyamoto, the anime pioneer Hideaki Anno also did the screening of more than 50 of his movies, as well as the special talk event to emphasize this year’s special focus on animation. And along with the special screening of ‘Ultra Seven’ HD remastered 2.0, still in Nihonbashi, the character figures and diorama of ‘Evangelion Unit-01’ (2m height) and Ultra Seven’s ‘King Joe’ of Tsuburaya production was displayed to celebrate the spotlight.
Moreover, the 27th TIFF also brought some classics to be screened in Nihonbashi, such as James Dean classic, Nicholas Ray’s ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ that was presented in special 4K remastered format, 1981’s Oscar winning ‘Chariots of Fire’ and Charlie Chaplin’s ‘City Lights’ in the Special Night Event at the famous Kabukiza Theatre with Kabuki performance and talk session.
But the real highlights were more famous actors and directors special appearance to present their film as this year’s entry to the festival. Celebrating Japan premiere of ‘The Expendables 3’, director Patrick Hughes and actor Kellan Lutz attended the stage appearance, director Owen Wilson and director Peter Bogdanovich for ‘She’s Funny That Way’ in the Q & A special appearance, director Jean Pierre Jeunet for ‘The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet’ and Bollywood hit’s ‘Dhoom 3’ featured Aamir Khan and director Vijay Krishna Acharya.
And to close the festival along with the announcement of award winners, the most awaited first recipient of the Samurai Award along with Takeshi Kitano, US director Tim Burton. Attending TIFF for the first time, Burton will also present the special footage presentation of his upcoming movie, ‘Big Eyes’, starred Amy Adams & Christoph Waltz, to start the TIFF allied project ‘The World of Tim Burton’, which will screen some of Burton’s best cinematic works.
The World of Hideaki Anno
This first-ever major screening to showcase Hideaki Anno’s retrospective works is also one of the most highlighted event in this year’s TIFF. The man, an animator whose career spans over thirty years and known as the Evangelion’s creator, started it all with his relationship with Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki. With some of his earlier works that impressed Miyazaki, Anno was hired as an animator on ‘Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind’. Animated the warrior gods, the most monumental creatures in the film, since then, Anno has begun to create a string of hits until ‘Evangelion’ series becomes a global phenomenon among the world’s most famously known Japanese animation.
Represent this event, Toshio Suzuki, the producer of Studio Ghibli, described Anno as the only man Hayao Miyazaki would ever acknowledge as his apprentice. Suzuki then said when he was asked for an advice by Yasushi Shiina about launching a special focus on animation, he got an idea of spotlighting on individual animation filmmaker after Hayao Miyazaki had announced his retirement. And the only man he would ever think of was Hideaki Anno. He also believed that Anno will be the successor that will lead the Japanese animated film industry, at least for the next 10 years.
Anno himself thinks of this as a great honor, to be the first to represent the animation world. He said that he was very grateful and excited, yet a little embarrassed that seeing all his work, including the rare ones from all genres and his amateur ages, animations and live actions, being exhibited is like reviewing his whole life in a short time.
Besides showcasing all of his work from a lifespan career in TOHO Cinemas Nihonbashi, in the way TIFF celebrating Japanese animation in grand style, Anno also sets a special talk event for several times during the week, talking about his life and vision as an animator and filmmaker.
From his early career in Studio Ghibli, the relationship with Hayao Miyazaki, and his thought about anime in Japan cinema hasn’t been sufficiently well appreciated, Anno said that there is no clear answer in the message he wanted to convey in the film. Instead, he wanted to stimulate the intellectual curiosity of his audience, that the characters would have a different interpretations beyond their complexity and ambiguity. Either it was depth, attractive effects or cinematic aesthetics, to him, the key to the excitement is how much the movie could take the audience to get away from reality, and as well, create emotions which could help the audience find a solution to their life’s problems.
In the screening of ‘Revival of Evangelion’, an augmented omnibus of several episodes of ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ TV series , Anno said that the trick to get as much achievement is knowing what to discard. He learned this lesson the hard way while working on ‘Royal Space Force’, a late ‘80s series where he was in charge of effects and mecha design.
His first job as director was on the six-part video series ‘GunBuster’, which actually has many problems in dealing closely with producers, and so when he made NHK animated series ‘Nadia The Secret of Blue Water’, which was based on Jules Verne’s work. However, seeing all of his work again recently, he still feels impressed by many aspects in those films.
All of this experience made him determined to do things his own way, which led to ‘Evangelion’. In terms of themes and visuals, Anno admitted that ‘Evangelion’ was probably his most characteristic work, where the production partner has a same vision and believed in him.
The fourth and final film in the ‘Evangelion’ film series will be released next year along with the 20th anniversary of the original series.
Special Night Event at Kabukiza Theatre
In this special night event, Kabuki actor, Ichikawa Somegoro gave a Kabuki performance, the famous Kabuki play, ‘Shakkyo (Stone Bridge)’ followed by talk session and the screening of Charlie Chaplin’s ‘City Lights’. For those of you who’s wondering why ‘City Lights’ is the choice to end the event, there was an explanation beyond the history of Kabuki Theatre in Japan.
Began with the appearance of the festival muse Miki Nakatani expressing her delight to be the part of TIFF, to promote wonderful Japanese films to the world. And also being a Kabuki fan, she was excited to see TIFF and Kabuki merge in a single night on the same stage. This is the first occasion in the history of TIFF to hold a screening event at Kabukiza Theatre, which just has been renovated over a year.
The Kabuki performance then began with the brief explanation, that the play ‘Shakkyo’ was based on the myth that a sacred beast of a mythological lion-like animal appears to show good omen in the sacred ground of Bodhisattva, Seiryo Mountain, India. A number of Kabuki variations of the ‘Stone Bridge’ have been created. Presented the Kabuki dance featuring the spirit of the lion, Somegoro, played the lead with the heroic mane swinging and energetic choreography as the highlights of the show.
As the theatre tradition, the performance was followed by the customary bento (meal box) intermission. For this special ocassion, the traditional Makunouchi Bento was recreated. This popular bento dates back to the Meiji period (1868-1914) when Kabukiza Theatre was built.
The second part of the event featured Somegoro appearing on stage. He said that he was honored to have the chance to perform for TIFF and the audience today, with a positive sense of tension and responsibility of representing Kabuki world. Explaining why he choose to perform ‘Shakkyo’, Somegoro then said that the dance was quintessentially Kabuki. The dance, the music, stage effects and make-up were what many people will recognize as familiar characteristics of Kabuki, and also one of the most appropriate dance to understand the art.
About the history, traditionally, Kabuki was performed to remove evil and bad spirits which is why it is often associated with festivities and celebrations. Beyond that, the moves are important as well, and Somegoro said that he swung the mane a bit longer for the special evening. He added that being different from films, a live performance is even harder because the audience must feel the energy and every momentum of the stage.
Finally, presenting the screening of ‘City Lights’, Somegoro told a story of Chaplin and Kabukiza, both were born in 1889, and how Chaplin, whose love for Japan is widely known, was very much attracted to Kabuki and visited the Kabukiza Theatre in March 1936. He still kept a photograph of his great grandfather, Matsumoto Koshiro VII and Chaplin, and show it to the audience. Moreover, there was a Kabuki dance inspired from Chaplin’s ‘City Lights’, a fact even Somegoro was surprised to discover. In the end, he said ‘This year commemorates Chaplin’s 100th year debut, and that’s why it’s the most appropriate choice to screen tonight at Kabukiza’. There you have the answer of the connection between Chaplin and Kabuki tradition.
TIFF’s Closing Film : PARASYTE : PART 1
Having the world premiere of Takashi Yamazaki’s big screen – live action adaptation of famous Japanese body-snatcher manga as TIFF’s closing film, the screening of ‘Parasyte’, which will divide into two parts (the second part will be released later in 2015) was attended by Yamazaki (also wrote the screenplay and worked on VFX), actor Shota Sometani and Masahiro Higashide, actress Ai Hashimoto and Eri Fukatsu and Japanese rock band Bump of Chicken, who sings the movie’s theme song.
Presented the film, Yamazaki explained the process of making ‘Parasyte’ was actually very long and also a strenuous process to complete the digital effects. With the rights reverted back to Japan after ten years in the US, he fought his way over his love to the original source. For him, the original manga was very powerful and has much depth beyond a philosophical questions about mankind and motherhood.
Sometani then stressed his quote that the time he spent to shoot ‘Parasyte’ was more than other films he has ever been in, and the difficulties in acting against Righty, the CG character was rather complex and pushed him to many trial and error in the process. However, he said that Yamazaki was very helpful in many discussions they were in.
To actress Eri Fukatsu, who hasn’t read the original manga until she offered the part, it was such an intense, wonderful piece of work which she was instantly drawn in. And same goes to Ai Hashimoto, who admit she also instantly became a fan. Moreover, she said that the crew were very familiar. Masahiro Higashide then added that his part required more of doing facial expressions, but after all it was fun, and recalled that in the set, the other actors acted like parasites without talking, smiling and even blinking too much.
Back to Yamazaki, after his smash hit ‘Eternal Zero’ and also ‘Doraemon : Stand by Me’, he admitted that ‘Parasytes’ was quite a pressure, but knowing the box office really depends on timing and luck, he hoped that ‘Parasyte’ could do as well as his previous movies.
Lastly, before the screening of the film, the Japanese rock band ‘Bump of Chicken’ consists of Motoo Fujiwara (vocal), Hiroaki Masukawa (guitar), Yoshifumi Naoi (bass) and Hideo Masu (drums) appeared on stage. The frontman Fujiwara told the audience that all personnel of the band were actually a big fan of the manga since they were teenagers, so they got very excited to be offered this job. Yamazaki added that he felt very satisfied with the result. Hearing the song, he thought of Shinichi, the main character, running through all the chaos straight into part 2 over the good bridge and perfect way to finish the film.
Bump of Chicken then played the theme song titled ‘Parade’ for the first time in public.
The Report on TIFFCOM : Japan Content Showcase 2014
As TIFF’s affiliated film market, Japan Content Showcase 2014 has successfully ended. Held at the Grand Pacific Le Daiba Hotel from October 21 to 23, 2014, this film market welcomed 331 exhibitor organizations from 25 countries and regions, and 1158 buyers from 39 countries and regions. Comparing to the recent years, JCS has achieved a significant increase in Exhibitors and Buyers, which becomes the highest record in the history.
Joined by more than 18000 participants, 3 days of JCS was filled up with business meetings, seminars, pitching sessions, co-production events, networking parties, TIFF movie screenings in TOHO Cinema Mediage Aqua City and more than 22 artists/group live music showcase. And as a special features of JCS 2014, the Japanese broadcasting networks gathered up as TV network pavilions in an attempt to create vibrant environment for business by bringing the shooting sets from their TV programs into their own exhibition zone.
TIFFCOM also launched a new spot named ‘Property Zone’ where specific creative works are comprehensively exhibited regardless of business boundaries. The featured contents of this year was the famous properties ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’ in its 35th anniversary project and ‘Moshi Moshi Nippon’. The market wrapped up with the opening reception of TIFF and live performance event ‘JAPAN NIGHT’ features Japanese top artists.
Next year’s Japan Content Showcase will be scheduled around the end of October, 2015.
Movie Reviews :
HUNGRY HEARTS (2014, Saverio Costanzo, Italy)
In their struggling film industry, which left almost no room for new talents unless in the world class festivals, Italian cinema still stands with some notable works. Comes from Golden Lion nominee director Savero Costanzo, ‘Hungry Hearts’ was based on the Italian novel ‘Il Bambino Indaco’ by Marco Franzoso. Unlike the promotional photos featured American actor Adam Driver (HBO’s ‘Girls’) and Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher, both won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor and Best Actress in the 71st Venice International Film Festival, ‘Hungry Hearts’ was actually an intimate horror about paranoid parenting.
The movie also started with delightfully romantic feels about a new young couple met in serendipitous situation, moving in together and getting married after the girl got pregnant. It even had Irene Cara’s ‘What A Feeling’ over the wedding scene, but soon after the film hits its half an hour screen time, an issue of indigo baby turned the movie into some kind of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ paranoia where the wife (played by Rohrwacher) becomes a germophobic and carnophobic mother who barely feeds and keeps giving the baby a purgative. Thus, the husband (played by Driver), with the help of his mother, is doing the best he could to save the baby, whose now underdeveloped and needs major amounts of protein.
Building the unique plot with well-written script turnovers, distinctive directorial style, although the use of fish-eye lens and Nicola Piovani’s camera angle was quite irritating yet explains a surreal angles of claustrophobic from the apartment walls to New York crowds, also an outstanding performance from Driver and Rohrwacher, the conclusion was a bit cliché in suspense genre. Though, it didn’t prevent ‘Hungry Hearts’ to stand out intensely frightening with its eerie looks beyond parenting and married life.
TEST (2014, Alexander Kott, Russia)
Against all odds, Russian director Alexander Kott made this apocalyptic love triangle tale in the life of Kazakhstan’s steppe and a nuclear test. Played it silent, with no script but just a 3-page treatment, the film talks through the acts, art direction, cinematography and editing as their major role.
It might feel like just a series of image or a silent theatre through the desolate sets, yet the result is very controlled naturalistic production that still leave you with emotion with a fine sound engineer’s work that captured birds, wind, storms and silence sound and surprisingly, a striking ending. The 14 year old actress Elena An, who plays the girl, who’s not a professional actor, gave the most convincing face and body expression performance, and also the key to keep the audience on their seat. A very unique piece of experimental filmmaking.
WALKING WITH MY MOTHER (2014, Katsumi Sakaguchi, Japan)
This documentary entry in Japanese Cinema Splash tells a story about the director’s mother, a 78 y.o Suchie, whose distraught after losing her daughter and then, her husband. Taking countless tranquilizers to calm herself down, it’s not until her sister, Mariko, decides to take Suchie back to their hometown for the first time in 38 years.
In documentary storytelling, there’s nothing very special about ‘Walking with My Mother’, but director Katsumi Sakaguchi might know that he already has a strong theme to talk about, from a long lost family relationships to the struggling journey after losing our loved ones, and this made the film becomes quite challenging, emotionally.
MELBOURNE (2014, Nima Javidi, Iran)
There’s always something about Iranian cinema. How they create a very intimate looks to draw the conflict, and keep the tension in pace. Flows in the same veins with Asghar Farhadi’s films, best known for ‘A Separation’ (2011) and ‘The Past’ (2013), this Nima Javidi’s directing debut even has more intriguing premise about a young Iranian couple, Amir (played by award winning actor from most Farhadi’s films, Peyman Moaadi) and Sara (played by Negar Javaherian) got hold back to move to Melbourne by the neighbor’s dead baby in their bedroom.
Like most Iranian film, ‘Melbourne’ also looks very natural in creating the conflict of ordinary family facing extraordinary circumstance. Thanks to a strong screenplay filled with effective dialogue and magnetic interactions between the leads and other characters. When the situation escalates through the thought-provoking conclusions where the couple struggled for their conscience, the suspense laid like a rollercoaster of emotions that keeps you on the edge of your seat, rooting for the lead characters and wondering what happened next.
NOVA : TERBAIK DARI LANGIT (2014, Nik Amir Mustapha, Malaysia)
After the remarkable debut in ‘KIL’ (2013), which won four awards including Best Picture and Best Director in 26th Malaysian Film Festival (Festival Filem Malaysia), director Nik Amir Mustapha comes up with this quasi-scifi ‘Nova (Terbaik Dari Langit)’. The screenplay was written by Redza Minhat, the lead actor in ‘KIL’, and the Malaysian acting diva Sharifah Amani also starred.
Berg (played by the rising Malaysian actor Bron Palarae), a rather failed and drug addicted avant-garde filmmaker, reunites with his three school friends (played by Iedil Putra from ‘Cuak’, Amerul Affendi from ‘Bunohan’ & Megat Sharizal) in a road trip to capture the UFO sightings he experienced 15 years ago on film. A one last hurrah that took them to a test beyond their collapsing relationships, and also something more than what it seems.
Over the exciting ‘Super 8’-ala sci-fi prologue and a bunch of mocks to independent filmmaking, lies the strong friendship story that flows with a gentle pace of new wave Malaysian cinema these days. However, like his achievement in ‘KIL’, the avant-garde atmosphere here was never getting too distinctly to communicate to his audience. Mustapha kept the sparks of emotion runs with a wonderful balance between the drama and the comedy, along with a nods to Malaysian culture. Plus good ensemble acts from the actors, this is obviously another effort, a nice formula to Malaysian new wave film scene that still can be received by the common audience as well.
‘Nova’ will open in Malaysian theatres December 25th .
LATE SPRING (2014, Cho Keun-hyun, Korea)
This Korean drama tells a story of a genius sculptor (played by Park Yong-woo) who diagnosed with a progressive disease that soon will lead him to total paralysis and losing his motor skills. In despair, his wife (played by Kim Seo-hyeong) found a desperate and abandoned young wife-mother (played by Lee You-young) to become a model, to encourage him getting his life back.
Being gorgeously shot beyond the theme of sculpture art and human relationships in beautifully crafted Korean post-war period, this director Cho Keun-hyun’s first feature dived deeply to reflect the painful side of its characters. The pace is quite slow comparing to most Korean drama, but the emotion never fails to deliver. Both the female leads also gave their magnetic performance though the conclusion was a bit out of place. Still, to K-drama cravers, this promising debut worth a closer look.
DHOOM 3 (2013, Vijay Krishna Acharya, India)
While not many Bollywood movies screened in Japan theatres, although almost a year late, ‘Dhoom 3’ is an exciting entry to this year’s lineup. Following the success of the recent film series, this Bolly show of heroes, girls vs charming villain and their mean machines back with more explosive elements.
As ever, the moneymaking franchise always focused more on the villain role. Having Aamir Khan brought his suave act into a more comical territory including circus and magic, still with the main lead Abishek Bachchan – Uday Chopra plus the beauty of Katrina Kaif, ‘Dhoom 3’ might still crafted with Bolly-bombastic and razzle-dazzle extravaganza. Call it whatever, but as a pack of total entertainment, ‘Dhoom 3’ delivers a high-octane and grand scale of action stunts. A sure-shot and indeed, record breaking blockbuster.
THE EXPENDABLES 3 (2014, Patrick Hughes, US)
~ by danieldokter on November 2, 2014.
Posted in special features
Tags: 27th Tokyo International Film Festival, Aamir Khan, Abishek Bachchan, Adam Driver, ai hashimoto, Alba Rohrwacher, Alexander Kott, Amerul Affendi, Big Eyes, Bron Palarae, Bump of Chicken, Charlie Chaplin, Cho Keun-hyun, City Lights, Dhoom 3, Elena An, Eri Fukatsu, Evangelion, Hayao Miyazaki, Hideaki Anno, Hungry Hearts, Ichikawa Somegoro, Iedil Putra, Japanese Content Market, JCS, Jean Pierre Jeunet, Kabuki, Kabukiza Theatre, Katrina Kaif, Katsumi Sakaguchi, Kellan Lutz, Kim Seo-hyeong, Late Spring, Lee You-young, Magashiro Hikashide, Makunouchi Bento, Masahiro Higashide, Megat Sharizal, Melbourne, Miki Nakatani, Negar Javaherian, Nik Amir Mustapha, Nima Javidi, Nova : Terbaik Dari Langit, Owen Wilson, Parade, Park Yong-woo, Patrick Hughes, Peter Bogdanovich, Peyman Moaadi, Redza Minhat, Revival of Evangelion, Samurai Award, Savero Costanzo, Shakkyo, Shota Sometani, Stone Bridge, Studio Ghibli, Takashi Yamazaki, Takeshi Kitano, Test, The Expendables 3, The World of Hideaki Anno, TIFFCOM, Tim Burton, TOHO Cinema Mediage, TOHO Cinemas Nihonbashi, Tokyo International Film Festival, Uday Chopra, Vijay Krishna Acharya, Walking with My Mother