19 September 2014

Camera Japan Festival 2014 / カメラジャパン・フェスティバル2014


Camera Japan Festival 2014 / カメラジャパン・フェスティバル2014

2-5 October, LantarenVenster, Rotterdam
6-9 October, De Melkweg, Amsterdam
10-12 October, Kriterion, Amsterdam

Check out the schedule for more details.

CAMERA JAPAN, the Netherlands’ annual celebration of Japanese film and culture, is back for its 9th year.   The organisers have selected 43 films from the past year’s bumper crop of Japanese films.  The films will be accompanied by lectures, exhibitions, live performances, a Film Brunch, a Kids’ Day and, of course, a range of Japanese delicacies for filmgoers to enjoy.

Most of the films are Dutch premieres and many have been the recipients of awards both in Japan and abroad. The thriller Forma by debut female filmmaker Ayumi Sakamoto received the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlinale in February.  The lovely film The Tale of Iya by young director Tetsuichiro Tsuta won a Special Mention at the Tokyo International Film Festival last year and went on to win prizes at Tromsø, Pan Asia, and Hong Kong.   Azuma Morisaki’s Pecoross’ Mother and Her Days has been very popular with both audiences and critics. Many Japanese film critics named it the best film of 2013 and it went on to win Best Film at the the Kinema Junpo Awards and the Nippon Cinema Award for audience favourite at Nippon Connection 2014, among other plaudits.  Ken Ochiai’s nostalgic look back at the golden age of chanbara (sword-fighting dramas) Uzumasa Limelight recently won the Cheval Noir prize at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal. 

The festival opens in Rotterdam on Thursday, October 2nd with Sang-il Lee’s jidaigeki remake of the Clint Eastwood western Unforgiven.  It stars Ken Watanabe as a former samurai on the run in the wilds of 19th century Hokkaido.  Under the heading of J-Dream, this year’s CAMERA JAPAN plans to “[shine] its light on all that is weird, wondrous and fantastic.  .  .  The theme programme is a wide and wild selection of exploitation, action, horror, fantasy and science fiction.”  The J-Dream programme includes 16 films such as the intimate documentary Love Hotel by Phil Cox and Hikaru Toda, the Midnight Madness winner Why Don’t You Play in Hell? by Sion Sono, and the much talked about The Apology King by Nobuo Mizuta, in which comedian Sadao Abe solves small and big problems as a specialist in the traditional act of apologising.


Other highlights of the festival include a live double-bill of performances by the young artists Cuushe and aus, as well as lectures by architecture historian and Japan specialist Dave van Eijnsbergen on ‘manga architecture’, by Japanologist and literary translator Luk van Haute on fantasy elements within the Japanese literary tradition.  Urban planner Rob van der Bijl will present an exhibit of urban photography converted into manga inspired images and artist Yoshiyuki Koinuma will present newly created work inspired by games, biology, science fiction and Japanese comics.



I highly recommend the animation programme, which features Katsuhiro Otomo’s award-winning Short Peace (ショート・ピース, 2013) – read my reviews of Shuhei Morita’s Possessions and Otomo’s Combustible to learn more.  There are also two programmes of Geidai (Tokyo University of the Arts) animation – one for kids (read about Mari Miyazawa’s Twins in the Bakery) and one is a must-see selection of their best works by students.  I have written reviews for many of these films, so click on the film titles to learn more:

In A Pig’s Eye, WADA Atsushi, Japan 2010, 11 min
A Gum Boy, OKUDA Masaki, Japan 2010, 4 min
Writings Fly Away, ORIKASA Ryo, Japan 2011, 14 min
A Wind Egg, OKAWARA Ryo, Japan 2012, 11 min
Sunset Flower Blooming, HU Yuanyuan, Japan 2012, 11 min
The Sakuramoto Broom Workshop, TSUGEHATA Aya, Japan 2012, 10 min
Maze King, KIM Hakyun, Japan 2013, 7 min
It’s Time For Supper, MURAMOTO Saki, Japan 2013, 9 min
00:08, KUBO Yutaro, Japan 2014, 6 min
My Milk Cup Cow, ZHU Yantong, Japan 2014, 11 min

Here is the full line-up of films to be screened:

anime



Bayonetta: Bloody Fate (ベヨネッタ ブラッディフェイト, Fuminori KIZAKI, 2013)
Geidai Animation Kids Selection
Geidai Animation Best Selection
Roujin Z (老人Z, Hiroyuki KITAKUBO, 1991)
Short Peace (ショート・ピース, Katsuhiro OTOMO, Shuhei MORITA, Hiroaki ANDO, Hajime KATOKI, 2013) - read my reviews of Possessions and Combustible

documentary
 
Tale of a Butcher Shop (ある精肉店のはなし, Aya HANABUSA, Japan, 2013)

Beyond Metabolism (Stefanie Gaus/Volker Sattel, Germany, 2014)
Get Action!! (Junya KONDO, Japan, 2014)
Hybrid (MMAドキュメンタリー HYBRID, Japan, Daishi MATSUNAGA, 2013)
Love Hotel (Phil COX / Hikaru TODA, UK/France, 2014)
Super local hero (スーパーローカルヒーロー, Toshinori TANAKA, Japan, 2014)
Tale of a Butcher Shop (ある精肉店のはなし, Aya HANABUSA, Japan, 2013)

feature film
 
Friendship (友達, Mikihiro ENDO, 2013)

And the Mud Ship Sails Away (そして泥船はゆく, Hirobumi WATANABE, 2013)
The Apology King (謝罪の王様, Nobuo MIZUTA, 2013)
Broken Pieces (こっぱみじん, Yuji TAJIRI, 2014)
Capturing Dad (チチを撮りに, Ryota NAKANO, 2012)
The Crazy tune for Maria (マリア狂騒曲, Kishu IZUCHI, 2013)
Dancing Karate Kid (琉球バトルロワイアル, Tsukasa KISHIMOTO, 2013)
Danger Dolls (少女は異世界で戦った, Shusuke KANEKO, 2014)
Forma (Ayumi SAKAMOTO, 2013)
Friendship (友達, Mikihiro ENDO, 2013)
Fuku-chan of Fukufuku Flats (福福荘の福ちゃん, Yosuke FUJITA, Japan/UK/Italy/Taiwan/Germany , 2014)
Greatful Dead (グレイトフルデッド, Eiji UCHIDA, 2013)
High Kick Angels (ハイキック・エンジェルス, Kazuhiro YOKOYAMA, 2014)
Jossy’s (女子ーズ, Yuichi FUKUDA, 2014)
Kanagawa University of Fine Arts: Office of Film Research (神奈川芸術大学映像学科研究室, Yuichiro SAKASHITA, 2013)
Kept (, Maki MIZUI, 2013)
Kids Return: The Reunion (キッズ・リターン 再会の時, Hiroshi SHIMIZU, 2013)
Leaving on the 15th Spring (旅立ちの島唄~十五の春~, Yasuhiro YOSHIDA, 2012)
The Little House (小さいおうち, Yoji YAMADA, 2014)
Live (ライヴ, Noboru IGUCHI, 2014)
Ningen (Guillaume GIOVANNETTI / Çağla ZENCIRCI, Japan/Turkey/France, 2013)
Pecoross' mother and her days (ペコロスの母に会いに行く, Azuma MORISAKI, 2013)
Short Hope (ショートホープ, Masaki HORIGUCHI, 2014)
The Snow White Murder Case (白ゆき姫殺人事件, Yoshihiro NAKAMURA, 2014)
Still the Water (2つ目の窓, Naomi KAWASE, 2014)
The Tale of Iya (祖谷物語 -おくのひと, Tetsuichiro TSUTA, 2013)
Unforgiven (許されざる者, Sang-Il LEE, 2013)
Uzumasa Limelight (太秦ライムライト, Ken OCHIAI, 2013)
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (地獄でなぜ悪い, Sion SONO, 2013)
Zentai (ゼンタイ, Ryosuke HASHIGUCHI, 2013)

short film



Fantastic Shorts
- The Lust of Angels, a take on 1960s political exploitation films, Ninja Theory (Extended Edition), a puppet animation about the daily life of ninjas in a peaceful world, and At the Last Stop Called Ghost Chimney, about a girl taking the on her last day of school.
Keblujara (ケブルジャラ, 2013/14)
- 4 experimental shorts by Akihito NONOWE, Isao SANO, and Konoka TAKASHIRO
New Directions in Japanese Cinema: NDJC shorts
Serori (Pedro COLLANTES, The Netherlands/Spain/Japan, 2014)
Short Shorts Film Festival (a selection from SSFF)


Catherine Munroe Hotes 2014

18 September 2014

The 5th Annual Tokyo Food Lovers Film Festival / 第5回東京ごはん映画祭



The 5th Annual Tokyo Food Lovers Film Festival (第5回東京ごはん映画祭)

 A festival that brings together “delicious films” and “delicious food”.
おいしい映画」と「おいしいごはん」を真ん中に、みんなで繋がる映画祭

Dates: October 10th – 24th, 2014
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Locations: Omotesando Hills and the Image Forum Theatre (Shibuya)
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1011()24() シアター・イメージフォーラム(渋谷)

The Tokyo Gohan Film Festival is back for its fifth year.  “Gohan” is the Japanese word for “meal”.  In the festival notes, the organizers point out that the prefix “Go-” in front of the word for “meal” (“han”) demonstrates respect and love for the food that they eat.  It is with this desire to share their passion for food that the festival was created.  With Washoku (traditional Japanese cuisine) being added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2013 and Tokyo being named Michelin’s Gourmet Capital of the World for the past seven years, Tokyo is the ideal place for such an event. 




This unique film festival is a celebration of food and film.  Each year, the festival allows foodie film fans to enjoy some of the dishes served up in memorable cinematic dining scenes.  As in previous years, the Tokyo Gohan Film Festival will be presenting a wide range of films from foodie classics like Yasujirō Ozu’s The Flavour of Green Tea over Rice (1952) and Gabriel Axel’s Babette’s Feast (1987) to contemporary favourites like Ken Loach’s The Angels’ Share (2012), Aki Kaurismäki’s Drifting Clouds (1996), and Wong Karwai’s In the Mood for Love (2000).  There is also a selection of documentary films.

Some of the directors and actors are already familiar to the Food Lovers’ Festival audiences.  Glasses director Miwa Nishikawa’s films are famous for their use of food, and films styled by her frequent collaborator Nami Iijima make regular appearances at the festival.  Marianne Sägebrecht makes an appearance in her recent film Omamamia (2012), but she is most famous for her role in Percy Adlon’s Bagdad Café (1987), which played at the festival last year.  Bob Giraldi’s Dinner Rush (2000) starring Danny Aiello and the docs eatrip (2009) by Yuri Nomura and El Bulli: Cooking in Progress (2011) by Gereon Wetzel are back by popular demand. 


This year, the Tokyo Gohan Film Festival announced an official partnership with the San Sebasti án International Film Festival.  A jury from the Tokyo Gohan Film Festival will award a Culinary Cinema Award at this month’s festival (19-24 September).  The contest Culinary Zinema: Film and Gastronomy was originally created in collaboration with the Berlin International Film Festival and the Basque Culinary Centre “to unite cinema, gastronomy and activities related to food in education, science and agriculture.”  Like the Tokyo Gohan Film Fesitval, this section of the San Sebastián festival brings gastronomy-related films together with themed dinners. The award consists of a prize of €10,000 and an Asian premiere of the winning film at the Tokyo Gohan Film Festival. The festival hopes that “this partnership will create a meaningful meeting point for the world’s great food cultures and traditions, and lead towards the future.”


Babette’s Feast 『バベットの晩餐会』
Babettes gæstebud, Gabriel Axel, Denmark, 1987
Feature film, drama
Dish: turtle soup and cailles en sarcophage (quail and foie gras in puff pastry)
Learn more about these dishes in an archival New York Times article from 1988.  Molly O’Neill recreated cailles en sarcophage for the The New York Times and J. Bryan Lowder has written an engaging piece on his attempt at recreated the dish for Slate.


Inheritance 『オリンダのリストランテ』
Herencia, Paula Hernández, Argentina, 2001
Feature film, drama, the Japanese title directly translates as “Olinda’s Restaurant”
Dish: Argentinian cuisine


Drifting Clouds  『浮き雲』
Kauas pilvet karkaavat, Aki Kaurismäki, Finland, 1996
Feature film, drama
Dish: White fish in a Meunière sauce


Omamamia バチカンで逢いましょう
aka “Oma in Roma”, Tomy Wigand, Germany, 2012
Feature film, comedy
Dish: Kaiserschmarrn 


The Angels’ Share 『天使の分け前』
Ken Loach, Scotland, 2012
Feature film, comedy-drama
Dish: Scotch whisky
Scotch whisky is an obvious partner for this film, but I really think that Irn-Bru should have been contacted to introduce the Japanese to the joys of Scotland’s most popular soda pop.


Glasses 『めがね』
Miwa Nishikawa, Japan, 2007
Feature film, drama
Dish:  Japanese breakfast, kakigōri (shaved ice)
One of my favourite Japanese films of the Noughties, read my review to learn more.


The Flavour of Green Tea over Rice 『お茶漬の味』
Yasujirō Ozu, Japan, 1952
Feature film, family drama
Dish: Ochazuke (green tea over rice)


In the Mood for Love 『花様年華』
Wong Karwai, Hong Kong, 2000
Feature film, drama
Dish: food cart style zongzi (chimaki in Japanese) and noodles


Eat Drink Man Woman 『恋人たちの食卓』
Ang Lee, Taiwan, 1994
Feature film, drama
Dish: Taiwanese cuisine, particularly soups


Dinner Rush  『ディナーラッシュ』
Bob Giraldi, USA, 2000
Feature film, drama
Dish: pasta
Check out this review with recipes by Kristin Eddy.


Wings of Desire『ベルリン・天使の詩』
Der Himmel über Berlin, Wim Wenders, West Germany / France, 1987
Feature film, drama
Dish: Coffee


The Dinner『星降る夜のリストランテ』
La cena, Ettore Scola, Italy, 1998
Feature film, drama/comedy
Dish: Italian cuisine
Cooking Up Dreams
De ollas y sueños, Ernesto Caellos, Brazil/Peru, 2009
Documentary
Dish: Ceviche (fresh Peruvian fish in a marinade) with Pisco Sour (a Peruvian cocktail)


eatrip  eatrip
Yuri Nomura, Japan, 2009
Documentary
Dish: Roast Chicken in a Green and Lemon Sauce / in a Strawberry and Sayori (fish) Marinade


El Bulli: Cooking in Progress  『エル・ブリの秘密 世界一予約のとれないレストラン』
Gereon Wetzel, GERMANY, 2011)
Documentary
Dish: El Bulli Creative Cuisine

Go to the festival's official website to learn more about this year's events and guests.

17 September 2014

Scenes (情景, 2012)





Since winning the Oscar prize for Best Animated Short in 2009 for La maison en petits cubes (つみきのいえ, 2008), Kunio Katō (加藤久仁生, b. 1977) has been relatively quiet on the international festival circuit.  At home; however, he has been busy making animation in his capacity as an animator at the commercial and graphic design company ROBOT.  In 2010, he made a beautiful series of animated shorts as part of the promotion of the 40th anniversary of the Japanese housing company Sekisui Heim (セキスイハイム).  In 2011-12, an exhibition of his work went on the road starting with the Towada Art Center in Aomori, followed by the Hachioji Yume Art Museum in Tokyo (Feb. 10 – March 25, 2012),  the Kariya City Art Museum in Aichi (April 21 – June 3, 2012), and the Nagashima Museum in Kagoshima (July 21 – Sept.  17, 2012).



The centrepiece of these exhibitions was a new work created by Katō called Scenes (情景/Jōkei, 2012).  Reviews of the exhibition indicated that this new work consists of seven animated vignettes, with each vignette animated in a different style.  According to animeanime.jp’s review of a Kunio Katō screening event at Ebisu Garden Place last fall, the vignettes (or “omnibus”) are called: Holidays (休日 / Kyūjitsu), Snow ( / Yuki), Potage (ポタージュ / Potāju), Them (あいつ / Aitsu), Morning ( / Asa), Nap (昼寝 / Hirune), and Curtain Call (カーテンコール/ Kāten kōru) (my title translations and transliterations).  The press screener that I saw had only 5 of these 7 vignettes, so my review is based on those. 

Each of the vignettes has a minimalist style.  Instead of the fully coloured foregrounds, mid-grounds and backgrounds of The Diary of Tortov Roddle (2003-4) and La maison en petits cubes, Scenes looks more like an animated sketchbook with backgrounds either non-existent or merely hinted at.  As is typical for Katō, each of the vignettes, or “scenes”, feature a mix of the familiar and the playfully surreal. 

The “scenes” have no dialogue, only sound effects accompanied by music composed by frequent Katō collaborator Kenji Kondō (近藤研二, b. 1966), who also composed the soundtracks to The Diary of Tortov Roddle and La maison en petits cubes.  Although I couldn’t spot them in the rather sparse credits, I am pretty sure that the soundtrack was performed by Kondō’s band, the Kuricorder Quartet (栗コーダーカルテット).  The screener that I have gives four options for the soundtrack.  Three rotate the music between different “scenes”, which changes the mood of each “scene” from playful to reflective, while the fourth soundtrack option is without music (ie sound effects only).

I have already used the adjective “playful” twice in this review because that is my overall impression of Katō’s approach to these animated “scenes”.  Rather than present a fully fleshed out story, as he did in La maison en petits cubes, these vignettes are more about hinting at stories and characters and allowing the audience to make their own connections.  It has a much more spontaneous feel to it than his earlier work, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Katō took a free-form, stream-of-consciousness approach instead of storyboarding as he usually does (I will update when/if I find out how he planned the film). 

Holidays / 休日 / Kyūjitsu



Opening with clouds against a blue sky, this “scene” is a series of mini-scenes of people on holiday.  There is an over-arching mini-story about a father and son who create a puddle at a water tap (the kind one might find in the backyard or a Japanese playground) then pick it up (the “playfully surreal” that I mentioned earlier) and play with it until finally releasing it into the sea like a captured fish.  Interspersed with this mini-story are scenes of other people enjoying their leisure time: girls playing jump rope, a couple flying a toy remote control plane, a father and daughter kicking a red ball, all culminating in a wide shot incorporating all the people as if they are in the park together. 

Snow / / Yuki



The snow in this “scene” looks more like autumn leaves, but then it is difficult to draw white against white.  This vignette suggests the feeling of winter with the crunch of snow underfoot, the activities people do indoors and out to keep warm on a cold day, people having a snow fight, tinned fish, and other associations the artist has made with his wintry theme.

Potage / ポタージュ / Potāju


Potage comes from the French and refers to thick soups, stews, and porridges that have their origins in medieval French cuisine.  Potage, particularly corn potage, is quite a popular dish in Japan.  This “scene” explores associations surrounding this homey meal: girlfriends hanging out together, family meals, a couple with their backs to each other reading, and a surreal sequence with a fish that leads to an image of typical potage ingredients (fish, onions, potatoes, etc).  The vignette evokes a feeling of togetherness and shared experience.    

Them / あいつ / Aitsu


It was quite hard to translate the title of this “scene” because the word “aitsu” is a very colloquial one that depends on the context.  It most often means “that one” / “him” / “her”.    This vignette is once again a series of associations, but the background has a yellow hue (my guess is that it has been painted onto different paper than the earlier vignettes) and it looks more like watercolours than pencil on paper.  There is a summer theme to this vignette (cicadas on the soundtrack, the drinking of Ramune soda, the playing of baseball).  I interpret this mini-story as concerning a schoolgirl’s friendship with a yellow creature, and a schoolboy’s jealous reaction to this relationship. 

Morning / / Asa



This vignette begins in a style associated with experimental films: a black background thickly painted with white onto which Katō has overlaid a series of pencil sketches of breakfast items.  There is a wonderful sequence in which a liquid poured into a glass metamorphoses into a series of different drinks associated with breakfast.  This is followed by montage of the diverse array of breakfasts available in Japan from the western influence of toasts and pancakes to traditional Japanese breakfasts of fish and rice.  From the minimal to the decadent, this vignette is a feast for the eyes. 

Not yet screened:
Nap / 昼寝 / Hirune
Curtain Call /カーテンコール/ Kāten kōru

This is a fascinating collection of animated short-shorts.  I would imagine that the overwhelming success of La maison en petits cubes put a lot of pressure on Kunio Katō to follow that project up with something spectacular.  Scenes is not a film designed to wow, instead it feels like the work of an artist who is looking inward.  It is a reflective and observant piece that subtly explores the craft of animation and its ability to express the inner workings of the human mind.  Instead of presenting a fully formed story, it unfolds like a piece of music with a theme and variation pattern.  It will be interesting to see where Katō’s creative mind will lead him next.

Catherine Munroe Hotes 2014



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