7th OKINAWA INTERNATIONAL MOVIE FESTIVAL : MOVIE REVIEWS AND EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS (PART 2)
7th OKINAWA INTERNATIONAL MOVIE FESTIVAL : MOVIE REVIEWS AND EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS (PART 2)
With the total 58 films screened (16 Special Invitation, 6 TV Director’s Movie, 19 Community Based Films, 5 Japanese and World Comedy, 9 Sakurazaka Film University Selections and 3 Open Air Screen), the 7th Okinawa International Movie Festival was attended by 400.000 visitors (increasing from last year’s 380.000 attendance).
The other red carpet events of the total three this year was held in Koza and Naha along with the festival’s closing ceremony in Naha, and still, the shows and fireworks in Ginowan beachside. For the first time in Koza, supported by the Koza Support Group in the military base town, often used for film shooting, the 180 meters length carpet walked by 383 guests in 48 groups was attended by 20.000 visitors.
While continuing from the year before, the red carpet event in Kokusai-Dori, Naha City has 170 meters length red carpet, walked by 271 guests in 39 groups and attended by over 60.000 visitors. The total numbers of Yoshimoto artist appeared in various shows during the festival was 199, and in addition, there were 131 program guests, 12 Eisa groups, 199 dance performers and 167 idols / live artists. The newly rebranded name that spread the festival wider over the island has also added the support group to 23 by numbers. Hope this will getting bigger by next year, and keep the laugh and peace all over Okinawa!
☆The Local Origination Project
JIMOT CM COMPETITION
On March 26, Jimot CM Competition Final was held at Open Air Screen and the following winners were announced.
<JIMOT CM Prefectures of Japan – Grand Prize>
Prize money: JPY470,000
Shan Shan Matsuri, Tottori Prefecture (Conceptor: Takuya Toyama)
<JIMOT CM 41 Municipalities in Okinawa – Grand Prize>
Prize money: JPY410,000
Zamami Village, Okinawa Prefecture (Conceptor: Zamami Support Group)
CREATORS FACTORY aims to uncover “the next generation of creative artists.” A winner of the top award will be provided with the full support of Yoshimoto Kogyo for their next production.
<Best New Creators Award>
“Kizu Ningyo (An Injured Doll)” Director：Satoko Motoyoshi
Jury Chairman: Film Director, Yuji Nakae / Vice-chairman: Film Director, Tsutomu Makiya
GEMS ON THE RUN (2014, Cambodia, Sok Visal – Quentin Clausin)
Being the first Cambodians road action comedy, ‘Gems on the Run / Kroab Pich’ tells a story about two childhood friends who reunited for their best friend’s death and realizing they were standing in the opposite way in a diamond robbery. Rith (played by Cheky Athiporn) who became a cop followed the wish of his widowed father to marry into a newly rich family, while Sovan (Vandy Piseth) who became a gangster was looking for the way to get out after accidentaly comes across three diamonds worth $3M. With Sovan’s attractive female friend, they embark on a journey across the south of Cambodia with each agendas.
From its looks as Cambodia’s rising cinema scenes, ‘Gems on the Run’ might felt no different than any ‘70s to ‘80s Asian cheesy action comedy, but give a deeper look, this movie also offered many of the country’s social issues of classes and good moral about friendship. Packed with quite intense action, good chemistry between the leads – both new actors and funny slapsticks over a dynamic directing from Sok Visal – Cambodia’s music video director and Quentin Clausin – a French director in his second Cambodian feature, it’s nevertheless an entertaining piece of mainstream film, something we rarely seen from Cambodian cinema.
HARAJUKU DENIER (2015, Japan, Hideta Takahata)
Featured the female action star Rina Takeda and Harajuku boys group sensation BEE SHUFFLE!, ‘Harajuku Denier’ sets in its titular center for high fashion and culture, intertwined a policewoman (played by Rina Takeda) and a bunch of young people with different dreams.
Directed by Hideta Takahata from some variety television program and ‘Hotel Venus’, his first film which won an award at the Moscow International Film Festival, ‘Harajuku Denier’ was quite an impressive, fun and entertaining look on Japanese young cultures. While Rina Takeda gave her different performance combining her tough side and deeper act, in their first time movie appearance, BEE SHUFFLE! personnels were also decent. ‘Harajuku Denier’ will be release nationwide in Japan next May.
DEADMAN INFERNO (2015, Japan, Hiroshi Shinagawa)
From ‘Manzai Gang’ to ‘One Third’, Japanese black comedy master Hiroshi Shinagawa still give his stylish signature in ‘Deadman Inferno’. Being his first zombie movies with conventional formula which we rarely seen in Japanese cinema, ‘Deadman Inferno’ sets in the mysterious ‘Z Island’ where all the characters, filled with star studded cast, fought for their survival. It’s action packed, funny with a little dramatic touch but above all, a different zombie movies with strong Japanese culture all over. A must see.
THE NINJA WAR OF TORAKAGE (2015, Japan, Yoshihiro Nishimura)
Known famously for Japanese gory showcase with lots of blood splatter movies, director Yoshihiro Nishimura brought the old fashioned ninja fantasy genre back to the big screen. ‘The Ninja War of Torakage’ sets in the Sengoku Period where a retired ninja, Torakage (played by Takumi Saito in his action role we’ve never seen before) had to get back over a treasure quest to save his family.
Although still felt like Nishimura’s with less blood, the movie paid big respect to the conventional ‘80’s ninja fantasy with lots of the elements. The action was high octane, and Takumi Saito looks just like the young Hiroyuki Sanada in his bunch of old fashioned ninja movies. Fun and entertaining, but might work only for the real fan of the genre.
TIMELINE (2014, Thailand, Nonzee Nimibutr)
In the vein of Thailand’s romantic genre, Sahamongkol’s ‘Timeline’ tells a story about Tan (played by the rising Thai heartthrob Jirayu Tangsrisuk) who against his mother’s (Piyathilda Woramusik) wish to took care of his dead father’s farm in the northern rural part of Thailand. Went to the university in Bangkok, Tan then fell for a free-spirited girl named June (Jarinporn Joonkiat).
Comes from director Nonzee Nimibutr (1999’s ‘Nang Nak’ and 2001’s ‘Jan Dara’), there were nothing really special about ‘Timeline’ with the story that spread a bit overlong, though at least, scenes of Japanese traditional festival Karatsu Kunchi from Saga prefecture and exotic rural Thai sets add color to this film, along with the lovely chemistry between the popular young couple, Jirayu and Jarinporn.
THE LOCAL ORIGINATION PROJECT :
These three OIMF’s Local Origination Project was made to promote Japan’s prefecture with its special culture and beautiful landmark. In a special note, ‘Rumah’, directed by Indonesian indie filmmaker Yosef Anggi Noen (‘Peculiar Vacation and Other Ilnesses’) through the process of synopsis pitching contest includes Indonesia’s Mouly Surya and Adriyanto Dewo marked the first collaboration between Indonesia and Okinawa.
RUMAH (2015, Okinawa NANJO, Yosep Anggi Noen)
Working for over 10 years as the operator of an information center that already took over with internet technologies, 34 y.o. Ayumi (played by Erika Oda) was reaching her line of boredom. As she got dismissed, Ayumi then headed home to see her long loving father (Masahiro Arakaki).
This simple premise was tackled finely by Anggi Noen in his own style of filmmaking. The panoramic and silent scenery worked perfectly to describe the main character’s loneliness yet also showing the beachside beauty of the Nanjo prefecture, and while the face expressions could be deeper, the restrained emotion was quite wonderful even without the obvious title card in the end of the 20 mins shorts.
As Anggi said in the Q&A session, he found many similarities between Okinawa and Yogyakarta, his hometown, as the small and beautiful side with strong culture. It is indeed filled with sensitivity as his first time filming overseas, mostly with the help from Anggi Noen‘s colleague incl. Indonesian famous sound designer Khikmawan Santosa and some local musicians from Yogyakarta who works on the soundtracks which introduced Indonesian traditional sound beyond those beautiful selections.
KERAMA BLUE (2015, Okinawa ZAMAMI, Tsukasa Kishimoto)
Different than ‘Rumah’, promoting the beautiful ocean of Zamami prefecture, ‘Kerama Blue’ was way more comical. The movie tells a story about a foreign couple come to stay in the village inn, a Swiss photographer (played by Daniel Lopez) and his Japanese-American wife (Haruka Tobaru), who can’t speak Japanese, over a language comedy to show culture bumps with the owner of the inn and her grandson (played by Shogen, Okinawan famous actor). With the language each other couldn’t understand, a relationship chaos came as an aftermath.
Although told more as a comedy, the language bumps in the screenplay, wrote by the director Tsukasa Kishimoto, has captured the conflicts well. The character was a bit stereotypical with distractions, mostly from the actor Shogen, originally an Okinawan but looks more like a foreigner, yet it didn’t stop the idea of the hearts and minds are stronger than words.
TAMAKO (2015, Okinawa URASOE, Soichi Takayama)
This children fantasy promoting the Urasoe prefecture, one from the last year’s film location tour for invited journalist, tells a parallel story of the 13 year old Tamako (played by Natsumi Ikema) who tries to save the Himukae bridge and a real legend beyond the bridge which told that once in every 500 years it will connect the demon world (Majimun-kai) and human world.
Directed by Soichi Takayama as a sister-piece to his previous ‘Tamako to Chochika no Jumon’ in the same set, this 31 mins short has an exciting parallel storytelling and genre which rarely seen as shorts. It might work better as a longer feature regarding the whole information about the legend, but still a remarkable and well made. Natsumi Ikema shines beautifully as the little main lead.
Vandy Piseth (Vandy Vibol) & Cheky Athiporn, actors from ‘Gems on the Run’
Q : We mostly just see your arthouse cinema for these couple of years, without knowing there were any mainstream movies from Cambodia which went to the international festival. ‘Gems on the Run’ is actually our first experience. Talking about your rising movie industry, how many movies did your country produce in a year nowadays?
A : Yeah, some of those movies were actually not shown in our local theatres. Cambodia actually produced not many, about more than 10 movies a year.
Q : And what genre are they in general?
A : They’re vary, but most of them were horror and romantic drama or comedies. These are the genres our audience loved the most.
Q : And we heard that ‘Gems on the Run’ as an action were the first of its kind. Is it the first action movie from Cambodia?
A : Actually no, there were action movies before, but ‘Kroab Pich’ (local title of ‘Gems on the Run’) offers something new in the formula. It is indeed our first action comedy with road trip themes.
Q : And it’s also made with the bigger budgets and longer production time, right? How much is your average budget for one theatrical feature?
A : Yes, unlike any other Cambodian movies, which has the average budget for about 30.000 US$, ‘Gems on the Run’ took more budget (about 80.000 US$) and production time, about 6 months from the script development (the first draft was actually written in english), applying it to our movie board to the post production.
Q : So like China, you also have strict rules by the board / ministry where everything has to be approved before productions. How do you feel about this?
A : Our ministry has a department called department of cinema and art which worked to decide which movie can go into production. They read the script and watch the whole production including costumes. However, once they got approved, the department facilitates our needs during productions.
Q : So do you think the existence of the department hold your freedom of expression in making movies?
A : Not at all. They are actually very flexible as long as we didn’t go against any regulation in the censorship. In themes, ‘Gems on the Run’ featured a bank robbery scene and we even have the upcoming film, it’s a road comedy titled ‘Papi Goes to Hollywood’ which dealing with the main gay character.
Q : Interesting. And how your audience react to this kind of theme and overall your local productions? And how did ‘Gems on the Run’ perform at the box office?
A : They’re okay with that, I think. And our audience loved local movies and looks like they prefer Asian movies including Bollywood more than Hollywood movies, which mostly dubbed when showing in our cinemas. ‘Gems on the Run’ was actually doing very well in our local cinemas. The box office is quite impressive regarding the movie has ours, who were the new faces in the local industry as actors.
Q : Good for you then. I loved your bank robbery scene at the beginning of the movie. Did you experience any challenge to shot this scene?
A : Sure, but the department was very helpful. They helped us block the road with police guards. It was the street next to a busy market with lots of extras and we also used real guns. When I shot the guns to the air everyone around is watching like it was a real robbery.
Q : You (Vandy Piseth) said that you and Cheky were actually not an experienced actor. Could you tell us more about the casting process?
A : (laugh) Yes, we’re really not an actor before. I was working as a casting agent in some production including this movie, and sometimes I did the art department and also assistant director. It was Quentin (Quentin Clausin – the one of the two director of ‘Gems on the Run’) who told me after we cast some actors, that I would be fit in this role perfectly. Maybe they see me more like a bank robber (laugh). And I found Cheky in his faceboook then offer him the role.
Cheky: Yeah, I was never been an actor. I actually worked as a graphic designer and got surprised when Vandy message me through facebook. I felt this as a big chance to explore my talent. It’s one of the main role and who doesn’t like to be famous? (laugh)
Q : Okay, one last question. How did you perform the movie promotions in Cambodia, and how effective it was to create the audience’s interest to see the movie?
A : It’s basically the same with others. We collaborate with the media and also doing the digital contents in local websites. For some movies with more promotion budgets and capable sponsors such as local phone company, like ‘Gems on the Run’, we also set huge banners everywhere to attract more audience to see the movie in the cinemas. As far, it’s effective enough in our industry.
Rina Takeda, actress of ‘Harajuku Denier’
Q : Most people know you for the action roles, such in ‘High Kick Girl!’ and ‘Karate Girl’. But you also did a wide range of role through your carreer, including in your latest work, ‘Harajuku Denier’. Are you worried to be seen only as a Japanese female action stars?
A : Yes and no. (laugh) I actually doesn’t want to do only action movies. I like any parts with more heart and soul and I love to explore my acts with lots of emotion in it. You’ve seen that I also did an indie arthouse like ‘The Tale of Iya’ to action blockbusters. But since not many female action star from Asia, I also wouldn’t mind considered as one.
Q : However, we still see you’re doing your roundhouse kick as a signature in ‘Harajuku Denier’. Was it in the screenplay or not?
A : There were no particular action choreography in the script. It’s only my part as a policewoman to catch the criminal, but of course, like the director (Hideta Takahada) said, we have Rina Takeda, so why not do the kick to nail the scene? (smiled)
Q : I heard that you’re also doing the film outside Japan. Can you describe more of it?
A : It’s actually one of my goal, to take parts in film productions. On behalf of Japanese actresses, I want to be more active in the productions. Luckily, I finally had the chance to do that, as a co-producer in a Japan – Myanmar movie. The film also had Sonny Chiba and me in the cast.
Q : There were issues that you also played in ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2 : The Green Legend’. Is it true?
A : No, unfortunately it’s not true. I would love it if they asked me, for sure. (smiled)
Q : You were one of the jury in the recent Osaka International Asian Film Festival. Is it your first time, and how was the experience?
A : Yes, it’s my first time. At the beginning I wasn’t sure I could do it since I knew I was still very young in the movie industry. But then again, I think I can judge from a younger point of view and overall represent movies from my own country which was an honor. I watched a lot of Asian films in Osaka and I felt they had so much power which Japanese film have to catch up.
Q : What do you think are the flaws in Japanese cinema? Did you ever have any frustration to them?
A : I think Japanese movies is very sensitive. While most Asian films also have sensitivity but comes in powerful emotions, I don’t think ours are the same. Maybe it’s just a different culture. And no, I’m not particularly had any frustration, but maybe I would point one to the casting process. I wish the industry could provide more opportunities to new talents and unknown actors instead of keep casting the well known ones in their productions.
Q : Soon you will appear in the long awaited live action version of ‘Attack on Titan’. How big is your role in the movie and what excites you the most?
A : Oh, I’m very lucky to be the part of it. I couldn’t tell a lot about it because there’s an embargo, but I could say that I’m one of 12 protagonist in the film. The process was very interested because it’s the first time I should act beyond the green screen for half of my part and we did a lot of shooting in the countryside.
Q : Do you have your dream role? One that will excite you as a big step in your carreer?
A : Maybe I’d love to do horror movie, but I think I’d like a part which has something mentally or physically survival like what Jennifer Lawrence did in ‘The Hunger Games’ (laugh)
Q : So you loved ‘The Hunger Games’. Did you choreograph your own action scenes in your movies?
A : Mostly no. Usually I have an action director to tell me what to do in the action scenes, but of course I’d love to choreograph my own action scenes, if I could.
Q : Who is your most favorite action star, the one who influenced you the most in action scenes?
A : My most favorite would be Jackie Chan. ‘Police Story’ is my favorite martial arts movie, but I also had a dream of pairing asian and international action stars in one movie, maybe when I became really famous, then. (laugh)
Q : Interesting. And who would they be?
A : From Japan, of course, Sonny Chiba and Hiroyuki Sanada. And outside Japan, could be Jackie Chan and my other favorite action stars like Tony Jaa and Jeeja Yanin. I love Jeeja Yanin since there were not many female action stars. I also loved Indonesian action stars like Yayan Ruhian and Iko Uwais. And let’s not forget our own Yasuaki Kurata. He’s actually my master’s master. (dan)