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Festival Director Yasuhiro Hariki’s Interview 03

Focus on Asia International Film Festival Fukuoka
Festival Director Yasuhiro Hariki’s Interview with
Thai film director Nonzee Nimibutr
of “Timeline” (2014 / Thailand)


Note: This is the complete, non-abridged interview conducted during the Focus on Asia International Film Festival Fukuoka 2014, which took place in September, 2014.

 

Hariki: Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview. Is this the first time to Fukuoka?

N. Nimibutr: No I’ve been here many a times. I was invited to the Asian Pacific Film Festival. I’ve also visited Fukuoka as a tourist on a number of occasions.

Hariki: And to Saga?

N. Nimibutr: The third time. First to find our film location site, then to shoot our film. This will be my third visit to Saga.

Hariki: Was there any special reason you chose Saga for your film location?

N. Nimibutr: You know, Thai people frequently come and visit Japan but they only visit the big cities like Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka. I doubt if anyone in Thailand has ever seen our film location site in Saga. Besides, Saga had the landscape I was looking for. So I drew my concept of Japan as some Japanese location no Thai person has ever seen. I got this flash thought when I saw the DVD of the Karatsu Kunchi festival that this is some place that probably no Thai person has ever been to. Besides, I also love cultural tradition. And Saga is such a beautiful city. With regard to this film, we received much support from the people of Saga.

Hariki: I mean, not many Japanese know of Saga, either, so I thought this was an awesome decision on your part.

N. Nimibutr: I feel I was really lucky to get to know Saga. The location site was great and the local people there were kind and friendly. We succeeded in getting the drizzling rain on film, which I was after. I also think we succeeded in bring out the sense of loneliness the protagonist was going through. I was tremendously moved by how much the people of Saga love their city. They don’t leave a single piece of garbage on the street! I mean it’s a fishing port but there was no bad odor. If you were in a fishing port in Thailand, you’d see fish going bad all over the place.

Hariki: Near Karatsu is another fishing port called Yobiko. There you can get really tasty squid.

N. Nimibutr: I went there and I had squid, which was good.

Hariki: I see. I think you might know Saga more than the Japanese do.

N. Nimibutr: That’s just like the people in Bangkok. They don’t know about regional Thailand and don’t even bother considering these regional areas to be important. So in the same way, I’d be happy if people in Japan get the opportunity to get to know Saga through my film.

Hariki: I have many friends in Saga. I know that the people in Saga are very honest. Basically, Saga has no industry or educational facility. So the people just end up leaving for somewhere else. There’s even a saying that nothing ever grows in Saga.

N. Nimibutr: Honest people…I hear there were films shot there after ours and I really think that’s wonderful.

Hariki: The problem is that they’re too honest. In this sense, Fukuoka is a bit looser. It has more room to spare so to speak where you can enjoy yourself. Saga is a bit too honest. That’s one good thing about Saga, though. About your film. I feel there’s pretty much of a connection between the countryside in Saga, and the fact that the mother of the protagonist was managing a farm in the countryside of Thailand. Now what difference if any do you see, in sense of values, between Bangkok and the countryside of Thailand?

N. Nimibutr: You’re absolutely right. Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, was the earliest to be developed and is the center of the nation. And in Thailand, the central government rules. There’s no decentralization of power as there is in Japan. The population and technology are concentrated. But once you reach the regional areas, you’re in a different world. The unique Lan Na culture has been passed on from ancient times and this is especially strong in the north, where the protagonist’s mother lives. You know, you farm on your own and live a moderate life and there’s no need to go out of town. Personally, I like the latter. Tokyo is complicated, much like Bangkok. So personally I’d much prefer Saga, which is quieter. And besides, Saga to me looked like the region where the protagonist’s mother owned a farm in the film. If I had my choice, I wouldn’t want to do my filming in noisy and clamorous Bangkok. If I could, I’d film in the countryside. My last film, “Distortion” was about a mentally deranged individual. I wanted to reflect the influence intricate Bangkok had on the individual so I shot the film in Bangkok.

Hariki: What drew my interest about this film was that it depicts two worlds. As you said, the mother’s world is characterized by handwritten letters while in Bangkok, Information Technology such as “Line” dominates the city. Rather than being a film about youth, I felt it was about the strife between the old and the new. It makes you think that these things happen all the time but that there’s no solution to it and that you can’t do anything about it. It’s a problem but that’s all you have to work with. The film made me feel that perhaps humans have this sad side of always retreating in life…

N. Nimibutr: I also like old things. I’m also a person that’s in the middle of the old and new. You see I’ve seen the development of technology with my own eyes so to speak. What I wanted to convey was about the old fashioned letter. It moved me greatly. Not only does it convey something, but it also brings out the feelings of what’s being written. For example, you can feel the emotion if you discover tear marks on a letter. However with email, you can’t feel the text, so to speak. That’s why I wanted to convey how wonderful the handwritten letter is. I also wanted to include the comparison of old versus new in addition to the different shapes of true love. You know, the love of a person in the old days would last. However, with these new tools of communication, it’s possible to get to know someone in two or three days and break up with that person two or three days later. No one seems to try and understand the other person these days. That’s another point I wanted to depict.

Hariki: You’re right. I know people close to me who meet people through these dating web sites. They have physical relations right away and then immediately end the relationship.

N. Nimibutr: That’s right.

Hariki: That’s really a problem.

N. Nimibutr: About meeting lovers through SNS social networks and then immediately terminating the relationship…I actually did research on this, myself. When observing young people at a restaurant. I actually saw a case where a couple met through Facebook and broke up in a week. People now a days live carefree lives. In the old days, you even felt happy looking at the roof of the home of the girl you liked from a distance. And you took time to reach the stage of sharing love with your partner. For example, not through a direct approach but by going through her parents or family members…In this way, the relationship lasts and if a problem surfaces, you can stay calm and be patient. People now a days get together right away, so they aren’t moved by each other, and as a result, they can’t exercise patience.

Hariki: I guess you and I belong to the same group. I don’t use social networks but I do use email. I always handwrite my notes. In that way, your handwriting remains. And when I come around to rereading the text, I can tell what frame of mind I was in at the time just by looking at my handwriting. On the other hand, if you lose your electronic data, you’ve lost everything.

N. Nimibutr: Yes, there’s a difference between writing something down clearly and noting something in rough handwriting. I also handwrite my notes. I have my assistant director type them up later, though. For example, I prefer to write down my notes by hand when I go to a meeting about making a television commercial. Sometimes, I may draw a cartoon or something. This helps me understand what my first impression was at the time. Well granted, I’m not that good with personal computers.

Hariki: But there is a point that creativity is analog. Even if I want to start something, I can’t get any ideas unless I use my hands.

N. Nimibutr: The same with me. Ideas come out with handwriting, so when you see it, it makes you understand what you were thinking about.

Hariki: But we are heading in a direction where we use less and less of our bodies. I don’t think this is going to change and there’s nothing we can do about it, although I do worry about what’s going to happen in our future and feel kind of sad that “our age” is fading away.

N. Nimibutr: I don’t deny the existence of technology, and I’ve conducted research on it, too. But personally I prefer analog. When I take a picture, I still use film and I listen to records. That’s my own world, so to speak. And I think what’s most important, is to never forget your roots that brought you up. Now after that, it’s up to you on how much technology you want to take in.

Hariki: Changing the subject, let me ask you about your film. The drawing of the sea becomes a center piece of the film. Can you tell me about that drawing? Was there really a drawing like that, which was used as a draft for the drawing in the film, or did you draw that drawing for the film?

N. Nimibutr: I had the drawing drawn based on my memories. The landscape is such that you can see the stars from the sea. Such a spectacular view can actually be seen at a small beach in the south of Thailand. I always kept this view in my mind. Quite amazing, isn’t it? I was really moved by this view, so much so that I’ve always wanted to include it in a motion picture. In the film, that drawing makes both protagonists want to see the real thing, not just the drawing. Even if one of the protagonists die, going to see this view means seeing it together. And for your information that drawing in the film symbolizes the act of searching for something you want. Actually, that was made with computer graphics.

Hariki: Ah yes. But in reality, the sea was shining.

N. Nimibutr: But we lit the sea from below. The shooting was very difficult. There were a flood of inquiries even from Thai people about that spectacular scene. Many people think about visiting Saga because they imagine that they can see the shining sea there.

Hariki: In that sense, maybe you shouldn’t be so outright honest when you talk about this. But that was really symbolic to me. In my sense, that belonged in a place, which transcended being old or new. Perhaps your film will look mystic if there really is such a place. Could this somehow be connected to a brand of psychology, which is Thai in nature?

N. Nimibutr: Yes. It expresses inner personal memories.

Hariki: That’s why I thought I could empathize, when I saw it. But the expression wasn’t something Japanese so I thought that maybe it might be something uniquely Thai. I always wondered what this really was. You know, I feel things distinctly Thai in Thai films are very attractive.

N. Nimibutr: Well if I may say so, I think Thai film directors are reflecting their actual life experiences in their films. Like putting their life experience in the character development of the protagonist or the content of the story. I first encountered the shining sea when I saw some publicity footage of Thailand for tourism. When a man strikes the sea, it looks like the sea shines. I thought that was fantastic so I drove 800 kilometers to see this sea. The way I was moved at the time, is still within me. I think a very unique Thai style of filmmaking is to bring out these moments which deeply moved you.

Hariki: I feel something big gets conveyed not through an understanding of language but at a time when you’re at some place where language isn’t used.

N. Nimibutr: The first script for “Timeline” had the main female protagonist of the film die by falling off a mountain while skiing in Korea. But when I thought about changing that to something else, I remembered about the sea and decided for a Japanese setting. Just to see this setting, I added a scene where she goes out on a boat and rescues the child.

Hariki: At what point did you change the script?

N. Nimibutr: At the time I was finalizing the script. You see we go out and shoot our films only after we have more or less a solid script, so to speak. Also I casually included some Buddhist thoughts into the script. There’s a scene where a man says “life is uncertain and you never know what tomorrow will bring so better do what you want to do in a hurry.” I did want to include such Buddhist thoughts in the film through the dialog of a character. You know young people these days don’t even think about what might happen tomorrow. They just drink alcohol and party at night. It’s not that I wanted to enlighten these kids, but I did want to tell them something about what life is through the protagonists in the film.

Hariki: Japan is also a Buddhist country so we may have something in common. Europe and the Islamic countries practice monotheism. They believe in one absolute god but we don’t have a single god like that. But we do have something that transcends the human being. So I felt something strongly Buddhist with the “light” of the shining sea. It may be a sense of ethic, rather than to say it was something we, Japanese, have in common. But I think I can understand this.

N. Nimibutr: Thank you. That was intentional.

Hariki: Your message came through very well. When you first see the film, you feel it’s just an average film about youth. The film might be dressed as a film of youth but I felt it carried something much deeper. I think the message will be conveyed well to the Japanese audience.

N. Nimibutr: Thank you for saying that.

Hariki: It will be interesting how the Japanese audience will react to this film. Has it already been shown in Saga?

N. Nimibutr: It will be shown for the first time in Fukuoka tomorrow. The day after, it will be shown twice in Saga and Karatsu.

Hariki: I really hope the message of your film reaches the Japanese audience. Thank you very much for this interview.

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Question and Answer Session 3 “Possession”

Focus on Asia International Film Festival Fukuoka 2014
Question and Answer Session (September, 2014).
Questions directed at Actress Meryll Soriano and
Project Coordinator Angel Mendoza from the Filipino film
Sapi” (English title “Possession”) produced in 2013.



L to R: Meryll Soriano, Angel Mendoza


Q: Are there many television programs in the Philippines where psychic, spiritual phenomena occur in the story?

Actress Meryll Soriano: There are. As a matter of fact, all television networks produce these programs. In particular, you see many of these at the time of Halloween in November. November is regarded as a “scary” month and so you see a lot more of these programs about this time. Turning to our film. This film also depicts the cultural aspect of the Philippines, which includes a culture that accepts supernatural occurrences and shaman types of individuals who heal people from such phenomena. For some reason, the more poverty stricken the person is, the more likely he or she will accept this type of culture.

Q: More than making a statement on the supernatural, I felt the film criticized the foolish nature of competitive rivalry among television stations. I felt the spirits in the film were presented as something rather foolish, but what were the film director’s intentions with regard to this film? Also, the scene where lightning strikes as if to depict “anger” directed at us from above…I’d also like to know why the lightning always came down on the same television station.

Actress Meryll Soriano: Thank you for the question. Unfortunately, the foolish nature of rival competition among television stations in my country does exist in real life. You can say that we, Filipinos, have suffered on account of the foolish acts these television stations have committed. Unfortunately, nothing seems to have changed. As far as the film director’s intentions, I think he was trying to turn his attention to the reality of these matters in a sarcastic sense rather than by making a political statement.

To what extent will humans suffer, scrabble and flounder to transform themselves into an ambition driven existence to reach the very top…I think this is what the film director was pointing to.

Project Coordinator Angel Mendoza: One other point the film director tried to show was the fact that television stations are much more obsessed about competing for TV ratings than caring about real poverty in life or problems of the government. The more flamboyant a television program is made, the more people will be inclined to watch it… That’s what the film director wanted to point out.

MC: Film director Mendoza has astounded us in the past with his cut throat depiction of real to life problems and issues in the Philippines. Truthfully, I’m sort of pleased about his cynical portrayal of the media in “Sapi”, the film being exhibited here. Now do we have any questions?

Q: Thank you very much this deeply interesting film. Now, in the beginning of the film, a snake appears as the television station is being introduced, and this causes a big commotion. A snake also appears at the very end of the film. Can you tell me the meaning behind the snake in the film?

Actress Meryll Soriano: Like in the Bible, the snake symbolizes wickedness. In the film, the snake appears in the midst of competitive rivalry between television stations. Whether it be of a social or political nature, people who start to have the urge to want to rise above others tend to foster something wicked within themselves and ultimately turn into a wicked existence. And this is symbolized by the protagonists’ snake. In the film, the protagonists go after stories about possessed spirits but in fact they are the ones being possessed. They are the ones who foster their own “snake”.

Q: Ms. Soriano, you gave a very realistic performance of someone working in a television station. The scenes where you cover a story look very much like a documentary. I’m sure the film used extras but I could feel a sense of realism at the television station in the film. Now how did you manage your role?

Actress Meryll Soriano: Thank you very much for the compliment! As a matter of fact, I felt this film to be very enjoyable and deeply interesting as well. It was my very first film with film director Mendoza. But when I got the part I wasn’t given the screenplay. As far as the scenes of covering the stories, we just improvised on our acting. This was a very scary approach to take. But we ended up researching every little movement. This even included the programs on “possessed spirits”. We did our own research on how a camera crew would cover such a story and how a television station operates. We closely observed how employees of a television station acted and went with them to cover stories. We even reported on some stories, ourselves. We learned all of this at the scene sort of speak. It took us about a week to do this, but I think we all did a pretty good job at it. Only the film director and a hand full of other people knew how the story would proceed. We did the character design and we acted as we observed. That’s how this film was made.

MC: I see! I was wondering how all this realism was created.

Actress Meryll Soriano: Before any shooting, we had meetings. The film director would talk about the plot but not about the backbone of the characters, leaving us, the performers, to think about our individual roles. We even came up with our own job description. We would use our real names for our roles. Now whatever happened at any point in the filmmaking, each one of us had to have a clear understanding of his or her role, and that included the internal and external side to each character. After all, if we didn’t have this understanding, the character of the roles we played would lose consistency and everything would fall apart, so we were required to maintain this relationship. It was a challenge and a difficult one for us. Despite being yourself, you had to bring out the expression of someone else. And this was like a tricky trap. Yet the opportunity gave us the chance to create a new form of expression. I think we were successful in bringing about a chemical reaction between the three protagonists. It felt like we were part of the same team for years.

Q: My daughter attends a university in the Philippines so I’m quite familiar with the town where the flood scene was shot. It almost made me feel I was watching my own film. I think the Philippines is a very comfortable country to live in. Unfortunately the Japanese tend only to see the Philippines through its footage of poverty and typhoons. But today’s film also showed a cultural side of the country. So I think it’s a good film to understand these things. My wife is Filipino and she really enjoyed the film.

Actress Meryll Soriano: Thank you so much,

Q: Were there any instances of supernatural phenomena during the shooting of the film?

Actress Meryll Soriano: The people in the Philippines really believe in the super natural. I never slept alone until I was 19. That’s because I was scared. Because I thought these things would happen. Now if I talked about my experience with the super natural in my own country, it would literally scare people so much that they wouldn’t be able to sleep. My brothers experienced a very high fever when they were still infants and they never stopped crying. So we had a shaman come to our house. The shaman then said “this boy is possessed by the spirit of the tree” and proceeded to chase away the evil spirits by pouring hot water and by hitting my brothers. Families believe in these kinds of things, which are deeply rooted in the culture of the Philippines. You may thing these things are amusingly ridiculous, but they really happen.

MC: So if this film actually depicts what really happens in the Philippines, then we might consider the motion picture a documentary then. Thank you again to everybody who came today.

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A SYMPOSIUM ON FILMS FROM TAIWAN


Coordinator:

 Yasuhiro Hariki
  Festival Director,Focus on Asia International Film Festival Fukuoka

 

Panelists:

 Chun-yi Hsieh 
  Film Director of “Apolitical Romance

 Chen-Ti Kuo
  Film Director of “The Boar King

 Po-Lin Chi
  Film Director of “Beyond Beauty-Taiwan from Above

 Chang Yann
  University Professor and Film Critic

 

 

Festival Director Yasuhiro Hariki: My name is Yasuhiro Hariki, the Film Festival Director and the MC to this symposium. This year we are holding a Taiwan Film Festival and because we have such a prominent group of filmmakers, I thought it would be a pity just to show these films. So we decided to hold this symposium. We always show at least two films from Taiwan every year and these motion pictures have become quite popular here. As the “Treasured Masterpieces from the National Palace Museum, Taipei Special Exhibition” is also being held, we decided to also hold our Taiwan Film Festival (and this symposium). First, I would like to ask Professor Chang Yann about the recent trends in Taiwanese films.

 

Chang Yann: Taiwanese films, which have been introduced into Japan were more or less new wave films from the 1980s. From 2000, however, there was a rapid decline in the number of Taiwanese films introduced into Japan. In 2008, however, people began talking about the film “Cape No. 7” in Taiwan and in Japan at about the same time. It was from about this time that I think Taiwanese films in Japan made a comeback. Thereafter, the number of films produced, increased. I think you can say this about Japan, too, but people in Taiwan who weren’t seeing domestic films made in their country started doing so after 2008. People were concerned about where they were living and this led to better revenues generated at the box office.

Among films related to history and national territory, the film “Monga” released in Japan in 2010, generated box office revenue of over 100 million yen in the city of Taipei alone. Adding the south central region of the island, the film took in approximately 200 million yen in revenue.

Films are starting to be set in mainland Taiwan and this has led to an increase in newcomers to the industry among other phenomena. People can now enter the film industry from different paths of life. For example people in television drama have become film directors. People in the internet literary industry have made it into films. What’s becoming a fad now is for very popular short feature filmmakers to enter the industry. As with “Beyond Beauty-Taiwan from Above”, people are also entering the film industry from documentary films. A newcomer attracting attention this year is Jung-chi Chang, who moved from short films to direct his feature film “A Touch of the Light”.

There is much vitality and diversity coming out of recent films from Taiwan. Now this is a political matter but before, about 70% would think of themselves as Chinese as well as Taiwanese. So there were only 30% who thought of themselves purely as Taiwanese. But these days, the trend has reversed to where people, I think, are gradually becoming more patriotic towards the island of Taiwan.

A film made about 7 years ago about making a bomb out of rice is a very interesting motion picture, which is attracting attention now. You can say that this film was also created out of the confidence and patriotism of the people of Taiwan.

 

Festival Director Yasuhiro Hariki: Thank you. I gather the film with the rice bomb hasn’t been shown in Japan yet. I think we get the picture that circumstances surrounding Taiwanese films are getting better. I think we should keep that in mind and move forward. Now accepting this fact, I’d like to ask our film directors present today how you came to complete your film. That is, what ideas, aims and targets you had for your film. If possible, please describe your involvement with present day Taiwan.

 

Film Director Chun-yi Hsieh:  “Apolitical Romance” is my very first feature film as well as my graduation production at New York University. At the time of shooting, there was a different script but we were able to get a grant from the Taiwan government with our love story version, so we decided to make this first. The film is produced with an independent touch.

Now let me tell you why we shot the film with this subject matter. At the same university, there was a student who came from Mainland China (she eventually became my producer). I’m from Taiwan, so we often had inconsistencies and issues of conflict in our conversation in such areas as politics and culture. We weren’t serious. We were just kidding and joking around with each other. You know, Taiwanese people like myself aren’t as serious minded about Mainland China as the old folks used to be. So we wanted to depict how young people of our generation see the relationship between the two sides. Originally I wanted to depict something real. In the end, we ended up overlapping this realism with a love story. And it just happened that the ban was lifted on travel from Mainland China to Taiwan. So with all of this in the background, we started putting our film together. Our story is one where a woman who visits Taiwan from Mainland China meets a Taiwanese man. In the beginning the two have their own objective points of view but they come to understand one another as they get to know each other. And this was the exact point I was after.

This film was produced for audiences in Taiwan. Yet we’ve had opportunities to take the film to foreign film festivals where people who saw the motion picture said it was a really good picture and that they liked it a lot. This really surprised me. There is a language barrier between Mainland China and Taiwan, so I didn’t know how foreigners were going to catch and understand this difference. It just happened that even those who didn’t understand the difference in the relationship between the two sides were laughing at the film and said it was a really good picture. This made me feel good.

I’m a new film director. I feel that our new films are something completely different from the “new cinema” of yesterday. Ever since “Cape No.7”, the Taiwanese film industry is gradually materializing into a commercial base industry. Yet I think young film directors have an issue to deal with, that being how to direct their films by balancing what they realistically want to express with commercially oriented film content. We’d like to keep making our films by taking a hard look at whether a combination of artistic and commercial content will pay for itself or not.

Right now, the film market in Mainland China has really become huge. In the end, if you want your film production to be a commercial base product, you can’t ignore this Chinese market.  I, myself, wondered whether or not I could secure investments from China as part of my production funding for my film. If I could, I thought I could release the film in China as well as in Taiwan. However, what I chose as my theme was a very delicate, political issue, making it extremely difficult for my script to pass the film censors in Mainland China. After all, my film comes with a bit of black comedy. And this is not welcome in as far as Mainland China is concerned. So releasing my film there is very difficult.

As a Taiwanese film director, I find the recent trend of larger film audiences in Taiwan to be extremely good news. To begin with, the local culture is accepted in Taiwan. So as the next step, I’d like to try to get my film released outside of Taiwan. In short, I’d like to try for the Mainland China market as well as film markets in other foreign countries. What I’d like to do now is continue by thinking about art as well as box office revenue.


 

Festival Director Yasuhiro Hariki: Thank you very much. Very interesting, indeed, but I’m a bit concerned, though, whether we’ll have enough time for everything. Now let’s turn to Ms. Chen Ti Kuo.

 

Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo: Actually, “The Boar King” in its script phase was surprisingly a commercial comedy. But in the course of rewriting the script and as we continued our field work in the village, we began thinking that perhaps white collar workers in the city didn’t really understand the circumstances surrounding this mountain and life in the mountain village, that perhaps people in government weren’t understanding the real situation either and that perhaps there was quite a big gap between the two sides. And so the film became more realistic in this way as the script was rewritten over and over again, over a period of two years. And for this reason, getting funding for this film was really difficult. At that time, I met with a producer. He was also a documentary film director who had a good understanding that our script told a story of what really happened. And so he started to get funding for this film from mountain climbers and people in the field of science and technology. These people were individuals who had a very keen interest in environmental issues and the future of Taiwan. With all this happening, it took about half a year before we were ready to shoot. In Taiwan, a non-commercial film has limitations, and there’s no way around this. So it’s best to have many investors. We found about 20. With investors, each will have his or her own idea on what he or she wants out of the film, so with so many investors, we heard plenty of what each wanted. In the end, though, it was decided that all decisions would be made after discussing the subject matter. It so happens that I didn’t compromise just to complete a commercial film. The film couldn’t recoup what money was put into it but I’m really grateful to my investors. Two of my investors are participating in this festival.

I came to two realizations during the production of my film. As far as the future of Taiwanese films are concerned, I feel that those who are headed towards a more commercial direction will take an increasingly commercial approach and those who are headed towards a more artistic direction will take an increasingly artistic approach to their filmmaking. Whatever this polarization is, you should have a firm grip on where you want to make your stand.

In Taiwan, I think a film director who has a low end budget is going to face difficulties. In Mainland China, there’s a lot of funding going around and there’s a significant amount of films being produced. Lately, Taiwanese filmmakers are co-producing films at the request of producers from Mainland China. The problem is, that in these cases the fee is paid in Chinese Yuan. There’s a big difference here, when you compare this to the Taiwan Dollar. In Taiwan, there’s a difference between an experienced filmmaker and some newcomer who isn’t that experienced. And so you get filmmakers who aren’t that experienced making the low cost films in Taiwan.

Sometimes it’s good to make a film in Taiwan with a low budget. Even if the technical level is a bit immature, you get the chance to work with young people. And this is how I felt in the process of producing my film.

But independent filmmakers in Taiwan have a lot of passion. When making “The Boar King”, they really came to like the film and had this strong desire to have audiences in Taiwan see this motion picture. So, although there were many sections and departments of specialization in the production process, everyone came together and cooperated with each other. For example, there was a scene where a candle is lit. So the Art Section lit about 200 candles. Unfortunately, the rain came down and put out most of the candles. If we had let the candles burn, we wouldn’t have had enough candles later on. So we made a cut and then extinguished the candles. So the people in the recording, cinematography and costume and design sections helped out. This is what I call  the spirit of cooperation.

The head of the Cultural Bureau of the government said our film looked as if three times as much money was put into the motion picture. I guess I had everyone work three times as much on this film. What I want to say is that this film was completed with the passion of my entire staff. Thank you.

 

Festival Director Hariki: About inviting your film “The Boar King” to our festival. Our festival ends up thinking whether a film we select is going to draw an audience or not. I really would like to select our films without thinking about this, but I can’t. This is a problem we face all the time. I’m sorry for saying this but I had this premonition that maybe not much of an audience would be drawn to this film. But I guess all of your aspirations got through to me. I just ended up selecting the film. If this sort of thing (aspiration) doesn’t get through to people, I think films will lose their attraction. For us on the side of selecting the films, we sometimes feel at the time of selection that maybe we’re going to face some problems with a particular film. So you see, our film festival also shoulders the same kind of anxiety. So what you said moved me, which made me think that I guess such anxiety always exists at the scene of creating something.

We now would like to turn to Mr. Po-Lin Chi.

 

Film Director Po-Lin Chi: My name is Po-Lin Chi, the film director of “Beyond Beauty-Taiwan from Above”. Actually, I wasn’t a film director from the start but a cinematographer who shot aerial footage from the sky. For 20 years or so, I’ve taken footage of Taiwan’s environmental problems from the sky. I’ve taken many pictures out of a wish to address a consciousness over our environmental issues. I often lecture at schools but I find half the students asleep. This really gets me depressed. Now when I think about why this happens, there’s a point of myself not being a good speaker, but more than that I feel young people these days aren’t interested in environmental problems. Now whenever I see these students, I keep getting depressed and discouraged. So then I thought, why not make a motion picture for them to see?

In making this kind of documentary, there was a real big problem. It was naturally the issue of funding. During the filming, we spent the equivalent of about 300 million yen. And worrying about where to get this money, I thought about using my house as collateral. That’s because I wanted people to believe I was really serious about making this film. It was at this time that I met film director Hou Hsiao-Hsien. After hearing about the film and my passion for making it, the film director, in a chivalrous spirit, decided to join the project as the executive producer. I knew that even if I made this film, it would be difficult to expect a large audience. But for me I had this mission to complete the motion picture. I wanted to make an accurate film as a historical record of what’s really happening to Taiwan’s geography. Many film directors helped me out on this project, not to forget the assistance I received from various businesses.

To produce this film, entrepreneurs and people in various Funds invested in us without caring whatsoever about recouping their investments. Before the film was shown, we estimated the motion picture would take in about 8 million Taiwan dollars in box office receipts. But since we started showing the film, we’ve generated about 200 million Taiwan dollars. This was totally unforeseen. The fact that the film is participating in this festival is already a big surprise to us. We really didn’t think this many people would go and see our film.

In Taiwan, many film directors have been making a wide range of documentaries based on numerous trains of thought. And these documentaries have been made in an environment where even if they were completed, they would only draw very small audiences at best. And even if a film director, after years and years of struggling, managed to complete a documentary, which gets shown, it would only play for a very short time after which it would end up in storage. However, the success of this documentary, has brought new hope to the documentary film industry in Taiwan. It’s convinced us that we have to continue making these motion pictures. I think this documentary serves as a very important piece of recorded history.

This film shows the extremely beautiful landscape of Taiwan as well as the natural features of our nation, which have been damaged. The film was shown three times in Osaka and every show was sold out. Truthfully, I thought only Chinese merchants from Taiwan would come to see the film, but when I went to the theater, I noticed that the audience was nearly all Japanese.

What I felt through this act of international exchange was that the people of Taiwan and Japan have a favorable disposition towards one another. I think it’s apparent by seeing this film, that there is no language barrier. Although the film is narrated, I feel that what the film director wants to address comes across more than enough through the music. The film should be seen by Japanese people as well.

The film will be released in Japan in mid-December. In the Taiwan version, the film is narrated by Nien-Jen Wu, an extremely well known film director. The Japanese version is narrated by Hidetoshi Nishijima, a famous actor.

I didn’t know that much about Mr. Nishijima. I heard that he really wanted to do the narration for my film. But at the time, I only thought Mr. Nishijima had a social standing equal to film director Nien-Jen Wu. But a friend from Taiwan corrected me. She said “There’s no comparison. After all Nien-Jen Wu is an old man while Mr. Nishijima is a star!” Last week, I received Mr. Nishijima’s narration. Listening to his voice, I could imagine the high pitched voices of admiration from his young female fans. I think this film is a very special motion picture. I think that wherever it is shown, the message of environmental protection will be addressed loud and clear through this film. When this film is released in Japan, please give us your support.

 

Festival Director Yasuhiro Hariki: What an impassioned speech. I guess the conclusion we all reach is that we just have to go and see this film. But when we think of films from Taiwan, I think the problem lies in something much more fundamental. I think that if you want to talk about motion pictures, you have to talk about your way of life. I think it’s a mistake to just leave this out and only talk about economics or about society. Actually, on the opening night of the film festival, I gave a speech where I talked about Taiwanese film director Tsai Ming-Liang telling me that “lately, people aren’t watching”. The film director is presently showing motion pictures not at a movie theater but at an art gallery museum. From here on is what I think…My interpretation. I think people watch other people. People watch over a baby as the child grows up. When these children get bigger, they mature by having teachers or adults watch over them. That’s supposed to be the fundamental basics of human rapport but we’re seeing less and less of it. We’re becoming more and more of a society where people don’t watch other people. The same can be said about motion pictures. The act of watching a motion picture is being lost. I think that’s by and large the problem with today’s society. That’s why people don’t watch motion pictures. They just come to the movie theater to pass the time away. If we don’t pay close attention to the fact that the act of watching is being forgotten more and more in our society, we’re probably going to see people just talk about a film being either this or that, and frankly, that’s not enough. In other words, I think humans live their lives in a way where they want someone to watch over them on their deathbed. And unless we place our relationships with others as the fundamental basis of mankind, I’m afraid we, humans, won’t be able to shape our own society. So we have to learn how to watch and motion pictures are one of the important tools we have to accomplish this. I think our present state of being where motion pictures are used just to pass the time away or used merely as a form of consumption, is wrong. And yet, from the point of view of how our economy works, I guess this is unavoidable. But those who put their devotion into watching just end up being weeded out. Being deprived of even the opportunity to watch…This I believe is our present situation…

I think our present state of being, where the film festival becomes the only place to see these types of films, is wrong. Young people tend to think that motion pictures consist only of what’s being distributed now but we have to come out and say that’s not the case. We also have to think about what it takes to make our films presentable. If we don’t, even human relationships will see an end. I think it’s starting to, anyway. Honestly, I feel it’s too late. Yet I still think we need as many meeting grounds as possible where we can talk about what we could do. In other words, this means we no longer have these meeting grounds for discussion. These are the decadent symptoms we face. In that case, what can we discuss about motion pictures? If we don’t train ourselves to watch, we’ll probably end up losing our ability to look at society with a discerning eye. I think it’s meaningless to just talk about motion pictures without thinking about these matters. Like “market” is just a word. Maybe I sound so carefree because I’m not a man from the industry but I just can’t stop feeling that the fundamental basics are disappearing from motion pictures. But even film festivals on one end have to think about attracting people, about how to draw an audience. And it’s a dilemma because that way, you can only show motion pictures people are drawn to. As for me, I think a film festival will lose its meaning unless it continues to play a diversified range of films, which demands that the audience seriously watch the films. Now considering all of what’s been said, I’d like to take up questions at this time.

 

Q:  I have a question for Mr. Po-Lin Chi. I did see your film. I was moved by the scenes of environmental destruction, which were beautifully taken. The scenes showing the collapse of the mountains, shocked me. I personally think that people came to see your film because it had the power to say something. Now you said that an unexpectedly large number of people in Taiwan came to see your film but how do you explain this?

 

Film Director Po-Lin Chi: Thank you for your question. As I said before, when I entered my lecture meetings, I felt everyone’s reaction to environmental issues to be extremely indifferent. And this holds true anywhere in the world but when you get an indifferent reaction even towards a subject that you’re actually studying about in school, that’s reality for you. So, probably even the distributor didn’t expect any high revenue from the film and didn’t expect many to come see the film.

And, at the time of the film’s release, we hardly had any money to publicize the motion picture. So we invited the mass media to see our film. They saw our film and were moved. The fact that I quit my civil service job to make this film got out through word of mouth and the mass media began publicizing this motion picture. They all came to have an interest in our national territorial geography and realized that this is the state of our environment. Thereafter, word of mouth publicity for our film greatly increased. Even our home page got about 2 million hits and served as a good tool of advertisement.

This motion picture does not present the most beautiful landscape footage of Taiwan. It would be nice if people could foster a sense of love and preservation for their national geography through this film.

As the festival director just said, I would like to see people take the time to come to the movie theater to watch motion pictures. And people shouldn’t come just to see entertainment films. We should show other types of films. And I think there should be the type of motion picture that gives us knowledge and allows us to expand the way we think about the world, just by watching the film. I feel really fortunate to be a film director from Taiwan making these types of films. I also feel fortunate that I was able to compile this film into a story for all of you to watch.

 

Q: How do you feel about the state of Japanese films?

 

Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo: There a film called “The Great Passage” directed by Yuya Ishii. I read the book first and then saw the film. I imagined all sorts of sections (of the book) which in my opinion would make the film a commercial success but these scenes weren’t included in the motion picture. But this film has taken a lot of awards from all over the place. So I’m sort of envious of Japanese film producers for being able to produce this kind of film that wins awards.

 

Film Director Chun-Yi Hsieh: I’ve always loved Japanese films. I watch about 20 or 30 of them a year. Recently I saw “The Kirishima Thing” directed by Daiichi Yoshida. I find that Japanese films depict their content with extreme detail, and that’s wonderful. I’d like to learn this type of filmmaking from Japanese films. As far as my future, I’d like to make a collaborative film. It could be with Japanese actors or actresses or even a Japanese producer.

 

Film Director Po-Lin Chi: You know, I was deeply impressed with Hayao Miyazaki’s film which I saw with my son. The film I’d like to see now is “The Eternal Zero”.

 

Chang Yang: You know, I really love Japanese films. I came to Japan to study films so I’ve seen a considerable number of them. Perhaps it’s because of my age, but I tend to like the older films. This year I saw “Tokyo Family” directed by Yoji Yamada. Just 2 weeks ago, I saw “Homeland”, directed by Nao Kubota, a newcomer, a film that received the support and cooperation of Hirokazu Koreeda in such areas as planning.

I’ve also seen 20 episodes of the “Late Night Restaurant” series. I teach Japanese Film at the Department of Japanese Language, so I’ve seen most films by such film directors as Mikio Naruse and Yasujiro Ozu

 

Festival Director Yasuhiro Hariki: I feel it’s very unfortunate that young people in Japan aren’t seeing the really good Japanese films of the past. I feel it’s not right that the young are being raised without knowing the good side of their national culture. Unfortunately, there aren’t many adults who can show this to the young. I say that adults shoulder a big responsibility. I think education should start at this level. I’m sorry if I sound rather strict and gloomy.

 

Q: Excluding those that play at our film festival in Fukuoka, I think Japanese films today aren’t up to par. I would like for one to see those of the younger generation go see an old film at our library. And I’d like to ask our film directors from Taiwan a favor. Please don’t assess recent Japanese films until after you’ve seen our old films of the past.

Now, Japanese actors and actresses seem to be in a world where anything goes. They don’t just act but also sing and do voice overs. What I would like to know is whether this multi-talent tendency also exists in Taiwan. Also, CG (computer graphics) seem to be the in thing right now but I’d like to believe that the beautiful landscape of Taiwan was shot completely on location.

 

Chang Yang: It’s the same in Taiwan. They sing, and some also model for a living. Like in Japan film companies in Taiwan have actors and actresses follow such a occupational direction once they become “sellable commodities”. As far as the old films are concerned, many students seem to lose their interest and reject motion pictures if they are shown in black and white. Maybe the era we live in now has something to do with that.

 

Festival Director Yasuhiro Hariki: We seem to be short on time so unfortunately, I’m going to have to end our session here. Please give a warm hand of applause to all our guests. Thank you.

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Question and Answer Session 2 “The Boar King”

Focus on Asia International Film Festival Fukuoka 2014
Question and Answer Session (September, 2014)
Featuring: Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo
Actress Yi-Ching Lu
Actress I-Ting Wu
Film: “The Boar King”  (2013/Taiwan)



L to R: Chen-Ti Kuo, Yi-Ching Lu, I-Ting Wu



Q:The film was like solving a mystery of what happened to the father who went missing during the typhoon, by piecing together the home video footage in the motion picture with the rest of the film. I first want to thank you for making such a wonderful motion picture. The scene with the Chinese plum trees impressed me. In Japan, they blossom at the beginning of spring in February, but the film showed them blossoming during the winter. Also, the plum tree flowers were put afloat in the hot spring water in August. Now, when do these trees really blossom in Taiwan?

Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo: They blossom more or less towards the end of December. We shot the film just as we were preparing for the New Year. My direction impressed upon these trees to bring back memories of time spent with the father who died. I also gave these trees a spirit of encouragement, of going forward in life as best as you can in spite of disaster (such as a typhoon). I heard that after the typhoon struck in August, 2008, a dry spell of no rain lasted for a long time and that the fragrance of the plum flowers which blossomed in December were much stronger compared to the normal season. The villagers were saying “the plum trees must have been shocked at all the water damage to blossom so intensely.”

Q: The typhoon was big news in Japan as well. Was one village completely destroyed? I saw a news story that said the President of Taiwan didn’t visit the area for a long time, but how is the recovery coming along?

Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo: We did our film location in a village in the south where the typhoon claimed the lives of 28 people. The film location took place in November and December of 2012, but as you can see in the film, there were still heaps of soil and nothing had been done about it. At this stage, half of the villagers moved to the foot of the mountain. The village, which had a hot springs inn, had many making a living out of tourism. After the typhoon, however, those who remained in the village began making ecologically conscious hand-made artifacts and are doing their best now to coexist with nature. They’re now into ecological tourism, offering the young the chance to study the ecosystem and making available opportunities to experience life, which co-exist with nature. Everyone in the village is doing the best they can. In the film, there is a cloth dyeing scene and this also is a new form of handicraft the villagers created. I felt that regenerating a destroyed village is an incredibly difficult task to accomplish.

Q: During the first half, the film is in black and white and in the second half, in color. I found this very beautiful. There is a scene where the female protagonist puts flower petals from the Chinese plum blossom into a jar, which I think is meant for some kind of liquor, and holds the jar up towards the sun. I thought that was a very impressive scene. In Japan, we don’t have such liquor, but what sort of a drink is this?

Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo: The farmers who grow Chinese plum trees cut off the flowers, which are then put inside liquor to make Chinese plum flower liquor. They soak the flower petals in the liquor for about three months, don’t they?

Actresses Yi-Ching Lu: I know nothing about this. I did play the role of putting the flowers in the liquor, but I’ve never tasted the drink.

Actress I-Ting Wu: Those who live up in the mountains seem to make a lot of these flower based liquor. Why not try it with cherry blossoms in Japan?

Q: There’s a scene where a man working to develop the area is disappointed after talking to an old villager. What was that about?

Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo:  The man was trying to turn the village into a resort. In that scene he tries to buy the old villager’s land. The man misjudged the old villager to be senile enough to sell his land. In the end, though, the man ends up being duped by the old villager not the other way around.

Q: How did you two actresses feel when you got your parts?

Actress Yi-Ching Lu: I went to the actual village and met with the woman my role was based on. She had lost her husband to the typhoon. On the eve of the typhoon, she had an argument with him and he just left the house. Thereafter, the woman started to suffer from psychotic depression. I asked her straight forwardly how she felt then, and she gave me her answers.

Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo:  When I interviewed her, she didn’t shed even a tear in front of the camera. Yet I heard she just couldn’t stop from crying that evening. I have the task of rolling the camera and conducting research as one documentary filmmaker so I’m not in the same position or situation as Ms. Yi-Chang Lu here. When she talked to the woman, Ms. Lu managed to bring out the woman’s emotions that lay deep inside of her, which exploded. Perhaps this was because Ms. Lu threw her questions at her straight forwardly as a human being, a woman and an actress. I suppose the woman opened up to Ms. Lu, for which I thank her.

Actress Yi-Ching Lu: I felt you (the film director) were into the character of Cho, who I played.

Film Director Chen-Ti Kuo: No, you’re wrong about that. You have the exact personality as the character role you played. A charming woman who has both her husband and her friend Nan in the palm of her hands (chuckle). Only you (Yi-Ching Lu) could have played that role (chuckle). Towards the end, there’s a scene where Cho and Nan kid around on a motorcycle and eventually fall. I personally love that scene. It was beautiful and looked natural. I gave an OK on the very first take. And I think that was possible also because you (Yi-Ching Lu) acted so naturally.

Actress Yi-Ching Lu: In the first place, I can’t drive a motorcycle so it wasn’t a case of me acting naturally. It just happened that way (chuckle). I got on the motorcycle and it just kept going forward. It was out of my control. So in the end, I just jumped off the motorcycle, which resulted in the motorcycle being knocked down (chuckle).

Actress I-Ting Wu: I mostly live in Taipei so I knew how big the typhoon damage was through the news reports. Afterwards, I went and stayed at the village for about 2-3 month interviewing the villagers. I was then very surprised to know that even after a considerable amount of time, there was no headway with regard to the recovery effort. The role of A-Fen, who I played, is a woman but this character was based on a man. Apparently he was staying in Australia, but rushed back after hearing about the typhoon in the news. I was worried while listening to his account of him searching for his father that this might somehow bring his mental trauma out into the open. But he talked to me with a lot of courage and told me he would go on with his life the best he could. I feel that this experience and the opportunity of engraving the thoughts and memories of so many people in my mind was really good for my acting career. And so I prepared for my role trying to come as close to how this man really felt. My grandmother lives in Ibaraki Prefecture in Japan so I was really worried and felt very saddened when the Great East Japan Earthquake hit. I couldn’t travel to Japan so I made contact by phone. People go through a lot in life. In spite of all this, I felt through my acting in this film, that I ‘d like to live as much of a happy and fulfilling life as possible.

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Question and Answer Session 1 “Apolitical Romance”

Question and Answer Session held during the Focus on Asia
International Film Festival Fukuoka 2014 (September, 2014).
Questions directed at Film Director Chun-yi Hsieh and
Actor Bryan(Shu-hao) Chang
regarding their film “Apolitical Romance” (2013 /Taiwan).

 




MC: Where did you get the plot of a love story between a strong-willed woman from Mainland China and an indecisive man from Taiwan?

Film Director Hsieh: This was based on my personal experience. When I was studying abroad at a university in New York, I met a woman from Mainland China. I ended up talking to her a lot because she was the only other person I knew who spoke Chinese. Many scenes in the film show the two protagonists kidding around. The nature of these conversations are in fact based on the same conversations I had with this woman. The woman, by the way, is Gu Qiao, the producer of my film.

MC: So, any developments in your relationship with her?

Film Director Hsieh: (Jokingly) Nothing like that happened. I did become good friends with her, though. For my film, I made the relationship into a love story.

Q: A long time ago when my parents went on a trip to Taiwan, they told me about how their camera was taken away from them when they pointed the lens at the statue of Chiang-Kai Shek. In the film, the female protagonist makes a commotion in front of the Office of the President. Is it really safe now to yell “Hurrah for Mao-Tse Tung!” in front of the Office?

Film Director Hsieh: (laughing) Don’t worry. In Taiwan, we have the freedom of speech. It’s perfectly alright to criticize the President of Taiwan.

Q: The male protagonist in the film is engrossed with his figure of “Gundam”. Is the film director and Mr. Chang also very knowledgeable with Japanese animation?

Film Director Hsieh: I love Japanese animation and manga. Of course I like “Gundam”, too. I love “Dragonball” the most though. Recently I’m getting interested in the Japanese manga “Shingeki no Kyojin” (“Attack of Titan”)

Actor Bryan Chang: (jokingly) If you let me speak on Japanese animation and manga, I can go on forever. There’s one Japanese manga that’s really influenced me in my career as well as in my private life. That’s “One Piece”. The character gives me courage. It’s a wonderful piece of work. I think people who haven’t seen this manga really should! When I’m down, reading this manga always gives me the courage to go forward. My brother’s girlfriend happens to be Japanese so whenever she visits Taiwan, I ask her to bring me a ton of “One Piece” merchandise. My dream is to have every piece of merchandise from this manga in my collection so I look forward to every one of her visits (laughing).

MC: You, two, seem to know Japanese animation and manga culture very well. Now I would like to ask for questions on the motion picture.

Q: I’d like to ask the film director this. If you like Japanese animation and manga, do you know the Japanese term “tsundere” (hot and cold personality)? This term seems to fit perfectly to describe the female protagonist in the film. At first she’s cold towards the guy but later, becomes “hot”. It’s a term used in describing a love relationship. What were your feelings on the contrast between men from Taiwan and women from the Mainland? Do these types of men and women exist in real life?

Film Director Hsieh: I don’t know the term “tsundere” but I did give the two protagonists in the film a stereotype character. Generally Taiwanese men have an image of women from the Mainland as being outspoken and strong-willed. Meanwhile women from the Mainland have an image of men from Taiwan as being weak-willed, ambiguous and indecisive. I then thought, what would happen if these two people met? However in the film, things like preconceived images and regions of birth end up as nothing more than something external. That’s because the two protagonists begin communicating their thoughts to each other. I’d like everyone to enjoy this process of the relationship. And it would be nice if the audience gets the message through this film that people can understand one another if they just meet and talk to each other.

Q: The scene in the train, where the female protagonist just stares at the male protagonist without talking to him, was quite impressive. I felt that although there were no words spoken, it was a scene where you could feel the two understood each other. Now after that they have a meal together where he talks about how he comes from the south of Taiwan. He begins by saying, “in the south” but then stops. What did he really want to tell her?

Film Director Hsieh: It wasn’t that he wanted to tell her that. In fact, he didn’t want to tell her that. The reason he stopped is because he really wasn’t from the south of Taiwan. He didn’t want to tell her about his private life, so he ended up lying. So in the end, he shuts up.

Q: The male protagonist A-Zheng in the film is presented as an otaku or geek who plays a comic role. But Mr. Chang, you are very good looking. How did you prepare for the role?

Actor Bryan Chang:  You can show your true acting charm by taking the role of someone who’s quite opposite yourself. On this occasion, I prepared for A-Zheng’s role by examining an otaku friend of mine. Whenever I prepare for a role, I begin by talking, to my family, my friends and people of a different generation.

Q: The scene where A-Zheng meets his father again…It was quite uneventful. I was rather surprised because I was expecting it to be a scene that could get tears from the audience. Also A-Zheng’s occupation of working as a civil servant. The film depicts this civil servant job as being an uninteresting profession, doesn’t it? Now how is this profession really regarded in Taiwan?

Film Director Hsieh: Very often the relationship between a father and son becomes quite delicate after the father and mother divorce. In the film, the son can’t be straight forward about how he feels when he speaks to his father. Besides, he isn’t in a situation that allows him to speak frankly. Also there’s little child-rearing physical contact between the father and the son. So here, I depicted this scene of a father and son reuniting, quite uneventfully. Now, civil service is regarded as a rather conservative profession with a stable income. The reason I made A-Zheng a civil servant is because I wanted to show that A-Zheng probably would have awakened to the realization in the end that he has to stand up and fight to do what he really wants to do.

MC: The man who played A-Zheng’s father also played the role of a father in “No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti” that was exhibited at our film festival 5 years ago. His acting was very impressive then as well. I’m sure some in the audience remember that film.

Q: About the scene where the heroine of the film, Chin Lang, plays mah-jongg with her grandmother. Her grandmother repeatedly tries to win by cheating. Now what was the real reason she sent her granddaughter to Taiwan?

Film Director Hsieh: At the time Chin Lang was going through a heart-broken affair and tried to get over it by drinking and shutting herself off from people. The grandmother wanted to change her granddaughter’s negative environment even if it meant coming up with a reason on purpose. Her grandmother wanted to change the painful environment in her granddaughter’s life. And her way of doing this was to ask her granddaughter to find the first man she ever loved. Ching Lang knew that looking for her grandmother’s first lover was only a superficial pretext to allow herself to go out and change herself. And she, herself, wanted to change.

Q: How was your impression of Huang Lu who co-starred with you in the role of Ching Lang?

Actor Bryan Chang: Huang Lu is much like the character she played in the film. She wasn’t that scary in real life, though. She was straight forward with me, just like a typical woman from the Mainland. I don’t think she likes indecisive men. I felt she had a manly character (chuckle), though, and this allowed me to talk with her in a relaxed atmosphere. I really enjoyed the process we took of making the film while we (Huang Lu, myself and the film director) discussed the issue of what would happen if a Mainland woman and a man from Taiwan got together.

MC: We were planning on having Huang Lu attend our festival but she couldn’t come because of her busy schedule. It’s really a shame that we can’t have her tell us her stories on the film.

Q: Can I speak in Chinese? I’m an exchange student from Mainland China. This was the first time I saw a film from Taiwan. It was really interesting and besides, the depiction of women from the Mainland was so realistic (laughter)! As I plan to see more films from Taiwan, I would like to know if you can give me any suggestions as to what films to see.

Film Director Hsieh: Thank you very much. I’m really happy to hear how you feel because women from the Mainland always tell me that at every film festival I visit. This film festival is showing many films from Taiwan so please go see them. Personally, I think the film “KANO” is the best. It’s a great film so please go see it.

Q: In the film, we see many rare figures of “Gundam”, but are they all yours?

Film Director Hsieh: I only wish they were. Actually they belong to the art director.

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Festival Director Yasuhiro Hariki’s Interview 02

Focus on Asia International Film Festival Fukuoka
Festival Director Yasuhiro Hariki’s Interview with
Indonesian Cinematographer Gunnar Nimpuno
of “The Jungle School” (2013 / Indonesia)




Note:
This is the complete, non-abridged interview conducted during the Focus on Asia International Film Festival Fukuoka 2014, which took place in September, 2014.  The interview has been translated from Japanese into English and for this reason, the translated English may not be the same English used by cinematographer Gunnar Nimpuno during the interview.

 

Hariki: We meet for the first time. Thank you for this interview. I hear your association with film director Riri Riza begins with “The Dreamer”.

Nimpuno: That’s right.

Hariki: What were you doing before that?

Nimpuno: I entered the advertising business in 1994 and got into motion pictures in 1999. I gained experience in the advertising business but felt working inside a building wasn’t for me. I wanted to go outside. I always liked shooting visuals and taking photographs so when I quit my advertising job I went to the UK to study motion pictures. I returned to Jakarta in 1999 and worked as a camera assistant to gain experience in the field. It was from 2003 that I started working as a cinematographer. I met Riri Riza while I was still a camera assistant. I worked with him first in “Three Days Forever” but I was still a camera assistant then. Riri Riza was a good friend of mine. One day he called me to see if I wanted to work with him. This was on a film of his called, “Drupadi”. It was an experimental collaborative film, set in Kota Yogyakarta. The shooting of the film took only seven days. It was an interesting motion picture. That was the first time I worked with Riri Riza as a cinematographer. “The Rainbow Troops” was shot by Yadi Sungandi, who I regard as my mentor. Right after that film, we started on “Drupadi”.

Hariki: What does “Drupadi” mean?

Nimpuno: “Drupadi” is the wife to 5 brothers who appear in the ancient Indian epic poem “Mahabharata”.

Hariki: Was it theatrically released?

Nimpuno: It’s a very experimental film. Riri Riza was the film director, Mira Lesmana, the producer and Leila S. Chudori, the writer. Because the 70 minute film isn’t of a commercial nature, it’s very difficult to present it to international film festivals. Besides, the format is a bit off the standard. It was sort of like mixing together a hybrid film with a film made for theatrical release.

Hariki: How did the audience see this motion picture?

Nimpuno: In the form of a private screening.

Hariki: I’d sort of like to see this film.

Nimpuno: As a matter of fact, I think it’s a very interesting film. I feel it’s the best out of all the films I’ve been involved in. I liked it so much I wanted to submit it for my doctorate program in experimental films, which I graduated from in the UK. I think I’m very much suited for this type of film.

Hariki: Is Riri Riza also interested in experimental films?

Nimpuno: It was a time when he really was trying to come up with new techniques in filmmaking. So we did “Drupadi” and immediately afterwards, “The Dreamer”. But by then, the method had changed. The story would be structured first into a drama, and then it would be filmed. But as far as media processing, both Riri Riza and I have always tried to test new methods.

Hariki: Isn’t “Atambua 39°C” if anything, a more experimental film?

Nimpuno: Exactly. We tried to test the hybrid method. We tried making a hybrid mix of a fictional film and a documentary film. First, we went on film location to film a motion picture based on a true story. This gave us 4 real to life characters. Then by building the story with fictional characters as well, something new came into the motion picture allowing us to film scenes where the two reacted with each other. It was a story that really happened but we were able to create it inside a frame of our motion picture.

Hariki: “The Jungle School” is a drama structured film, isn’t it?

Nimpuno: In this case also, we had Butet Manurung’s real to life diary, which we re-presented in the form of a motion picture. We transferred the story, which already existed, into a film script so the timeline was the same. However as far as cinematography was concerned, we always had the thought of mixing techniques. We mixed traditional methods of film production with experimental methods. We shot the film where the real story happened and the main characters are people who really exist. However the visual footage used in the film, we created out of fiction.

Hariki: How did Ms. Butet Manurung feel about the film?

Nimpuno: She told us she really loved it! She’s very sensitive and has much sympathy towards the people who live in the jungle. She’s the type who is easily moved. She starts crying just by looking at these children. So when we showed her our film, she became emotional and began to cry. Children she actually taught appeared as themselves in the film and that’s what moved her so much. She also places great anticipation on what the film can achieve.

Hariki: The hope for education as well as the significance of education…I feel Riri Riza’s films strongly address these messages. However the interesting thing about him is that he also stresses the point of education destroying traditional society. I think this dilemma is very well presented in his films. Perhaps the interesting thing about him is that he shoulders both the shining light and the dark shadow of modernism.

Nimpuno: Exactly. Knowing him for about five and a half years, I can tell you that he’s very interested in guiding and educating the younger generation, which he feels is very important. It’s not just limited to film production. In many ways, he has a conscience of wanting to share knowledge with the young. That’s why he holds workshops and goes back to his home community to make films. That’s one of the reasons why I continue working with him. He’s a film director I really like. I feel that when I work with him, I’m always learning something or gaining new knowledge whether it be from the work content or the work process or just working together. Very often I learn about what’s being expressed in our films. Riri Riza has been very important to me in the course of building my film career.

Hariki: But here in Japan, we can’t be optimistic about education. It’s a bit different than in Indonesia. I think Riri Riza’s films are wonderful but the matter of fact is that it’s different in Japan. So when we see his films, yes we feel that education is important, but reality in Japan is different so there’s a conflict. It’s difficult to grasp, isn’t it? For example by studying, the children of the forest can go to the outside world and enjoy better lives but what happens to education after they do? I think Japan is at this last stage. Education in Japan has become something that’s used only to better oneself economically and to make money. Not everyone thinks that’s just but under Japan’s present economic society, no one can do anything about it and social constraints are becoming stricter. In other words this isn’t fundamental education anymore.

Nimpuno: That’s scary. Indonesia has such a diverse sub-culture. Its level of growth is also very diverse. Everyone thinks education is very important, especially for our children’s future. But even we don’t think that the content of our educational can be made the same. That’s because our education has to be administered in an environment, which takes into account all our different cultures and growth levels. What’s so great about Butet’s method is that it first begins by going into regional culture to find out what its needs are. After getting the answer, her style then makes special arrangements to education. When the (jungle) tribes receive new knowledge, they then come up with their own form of education, based on what they’ve learned, that will give them growth on their own terms. Butet believes that our country will fall into a state of utter confusion if the content of education was made the same and administered throughout Indonesia.. I think this is what’s so great about her style of education.

Hariki: I think it’s a good thing to accept diversity. But when the war ended in Japan, the country homogenized education and because of this, diversity has virtually disappeared. While the country became strong economically it has become very poor, culturally. It’s very unfortunate. I wouldn’t want to see Indonesia go after the Japanese model (chuckle).

Nimpuro: We’ll all have to try our best so that doesn’t happen (chuckle)

Hariki: I believe that even Riri Riza has to think about what should be done after these people get their advanced education. I felt he thought about this significantly in “Three Days Forever”.

Nimpuro: Exactly.

Hariki: That’s why I think he may go back to education, but what really are his future plans?

Nimpuro: Back in his home community, he’s involved in a really good project that binds culture with education. Every year he does these projects that targets the youth from the eastern region of Indonesia. One of these is the film production project and there’s one for script writing as well. He invites people from the outside. For example he invites me from Jakarta or someone from the Philippines to his home district to have us relay new knowledge to the young. That’s the movement he’s involved in. So as I see it, what he’s doing is fostering the young in his home community in a way that enables them to keep their roots in the community while creating something new from their culture using new medium. Wanting people to do creative work after understanding and grasping their culture is Riri Riza’s style. I feel this can be a role model for other projects. But his future plan is a mystery to me.

Hariki: (Jokingly) Does he have any interest in going into politics?

Nimpuro: (Jokingly) I think he hates politicians.

Hariki: (Jokingly) I’d like him to be the kind of politician that can expand and widen culture. He should become a politician who can secure budgets.

Nimpuro: (Jokingly) I’d like him to do that, too. By the way, Riri Riza and I assisted in the campaign to elect Joko Widodo for President.

Hariki: He got elected, didn’t he?

Nimpuro: Yes he did. Riri Riza and I were volunteers in his election campaign.

Hariki: (Jokingly) I’d like him to become Minister of Culture.

Nimpuro: (Jokingly) Um…but I think Mira Lesmana, the producer, is more fit for that post.

Hariki: (Jokingly)  I can understand that. I think she’s better at politics than he is. I’m sorry for the brevity of our meeting. Thank you so much for today.

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Festival Director Yasuhiro Hariki’s Interview 01

Focus on Asia International Film Festival Fukuoka
Festival Director Yasuhiro Hariki’s Interview with
Turkish Film Director Tayfun Pirselimoğlu
of “I’m not him” (Turkey/Greece/France)


Note:This is the complete, non-abridged interview conducted during the Focus on Asia International Film Festival Fukuoka 2014, which took place in September, 2014.  The interview has been translated from Japanese into English and for this reason, the translated English may not be the same English used by film director Tayfun Pirselimoğlu during the interview.

 

Hariki: You have a rather unusual background before making films.

Pirselimoğlu: I guess I do. First I studied at the Middle East Technical University in Turkey, where they gave lectures all in English, American style.

Hariki: At the time, did you have any thoughts of becoming a film director?

Pirselimoğlu: It just happened. The Turkish system of education at the time had a lot to do with this. I, myself, wanted to study academics but the country was placing top priority in turning out engineers. So I became one and worked as an engineer for a year and a half .When I decided to quit, I left for Vienna to study painting at the Art Academy.

Hariki: Let’s go back a bit. Was your family in high society?

Pirselimoğlu: My family lived in a city by the coast of the Black Sea. Our family was one of the oldest in town. My grandfather had the rank of “pasa”, a rank given to the most powerful in the Turkish Army. My father studied finance at Istanbul University and became an expert in the field. So our family was a liberal family.

Hariki: What is “pasa”?

Pirselimoğlu: It wasn’t a gentry rank but the highest rank given in the Turkish Army.

Hariki: In ancient times, the Turkish Army was really strong. They even attacked Vienna.

Pirselimoğlu: The ancient Ottoman Turkish Empire was extremely powerful stretching its control from Vienna to Iran. But it gradually disintegrated and in 1923 under a new constitution, a new society was born. My grandfather retired then feeling everything had changed.

Hariki: Why did you then go to Vienna to study fine arts?

Pirselimoğlu: At first, I thought about holding my own exhibit in Istanbul but my father’s acquaintance who was a professor at the Academy, recommended that I go. However it wasn’t an easy decision to leave the country to begin something new. They were only accepting about 10-15 out of 1500 who applied. Anyway, I ended up studying at a school in Vienna noted for Surrealism. I studied Fantastic Realism. At the time, my professor was known as one of five godly figures in the field but I didn’t like studying and I didn’t like Vienna. It was at this time that I started writing novels, short novels and scripts. Later when I returned to Turkey I made my first short film “Dayim” in 1999, about a crazy old man who tries to fly up to the sky. This film was a success, being invited to the Venice Film Festival among other film festivals. The success led the way for me to make my first feature film.

Hariki: You were able to write scripts but wasn’t it difficult to make a film?

Pirselimoğlu: At first, I was able to write scripts, novels and direct films and even hold exhibitions at the same time. I’m getting old so it’s difficult to do all that now.

Hariki: To your motion picture now (“I’m not him”). It was very interesting. Seeing it made me recall a story written by Koubou Abe, a Japanese novelist.

Pirselimoğlu: I am familiar with him. And thank you for the compliment.

Hariki: Besides being a novelist, Koubou Abe was in the Theater. He even wrote plays and brought up actors and actresses. He never directed a film but wrote many scripts for motion pictures.

Pirselimoğlu: I didn’t know that.

Hariki: So there is a very close resemblance. Besides, he was a doctor.

Pirselimoğlu: That’s interesting. As a matter of fact, the leading actor in my film is actually a doctor. He only started acting maybe 5-6 years ago. So he should understand that people can enter the film business from other fields of work.

Hariki: Structure-wise, your film is very interesting. Is your novel like that?

Pirselimoğlu: The novel is practically the same as the film. The plot very much resembles that of the film. Let me explain. What I wanted to create was a world much like a labyrinth where coincidences stack up against each other and head towards a different direction. I created a similar world in my novel as well.

Hariki: What I find really interesting is that the film doesn’t depict the inner self of the protagonist at all. Only the exterior. For example a person’s shoes or slippers changes his destiny.

Pirselimoğlu: Exactly. The kind of protagonist I write about and depict is a person who has a problem dealing with people. He’s suffering from something but doesn’t know what it is. He’s up against a wall and realizes he can’t overcome his problem so he starts to feel hopeless. At this point, I didn’t want to write about or depict his inner self. As many things are happening to him externally, I wanted, instead, to write about and show how this protagonist plans to deal with these external factors. I also wanted to address the issue of whether destiny can be altered from the outside.

Hariki: I see. Dramas normally end up depicting the inner self of a conflict but in your case, this doesn’t happen.

Pirselimoğlu: Let me tell you the type of filmmaking I believe in. Taking a frame in a motion picture as an example, it’s the kind of expression where the audience takes a peek at the other side. In a normal motion picture, what’s projected on to the screen tries to work on the audience to try and absorb the viewers into the film, but I don’t like that method. What I’d like to create is a situation where the audience is so curious about a film that they go into the motion picture, themselves, that is to say, into the world the motion picture expresses. That’s why audiences who aren’t concerned with this world on the other side, say my films are boring. That’s because they have no conscious effort of venturing into the world on the other side.

Hariki: Audiences, you know, are mostly passive.

Pirselimoğlu: Yes, but I hate that.

Hariki: Same here. You know I love mysteries (chuckle).

Pirselimoğlu: Same here (chuckle).

Hariki: In your film, there are many motionless scenes. Then something suddenly happens. And that’s the part I find extremely interesting.

Pirselimoğlu: Yes, I like that, too. I believe that life, in itself, is like that. Life constantly circulates like a repeating loop. So in between life, you get the feeling that there’s nothing but when you reach a certain point, things change dramatically. That’s when the loop enters its next phase.

Hariki: Films often drop an advance hint to let the audience know what’s going on. But I don’t find that interesting..


Pirselimoğlu
: In as far as making contact with the audience, that’s a simple way out, don’t you think? It’s made to be simple. In a normal film, the film director and the audience come to some sort of agreement. At the movie theater, the audience believes they are in a position to demand something while the film director hands the audience something to answer to their needs. I think many films are like this. My ideal, if both parties start at a distance from each other, is for the two to dance their way to meet at mid-point. The audience, seeing the film director dancing, also dances their way to approach the film director. But this is a tight rope dance, so it’s dangerous (chuckle).

Hariki: In that sense, motion pictures aren’t commodities.

Pirselimoğlu: My films aren’t all like that.

Hariki:: That’s why your film is interesting no matter how many times I see it.

Pirselimoğlu: Thank you.

Hariki: And what’s shown on the screen is extremely well structured. You feel something is going to happen but you can’t figure out why things remain still.

Pirselimoğlu: By the way, I made this film with Andreas Sinanos. He’s also very intelligent.

Hariki: The screen action moves in a very leisurely pace.

Pirselimoğlu: He made 5 or 6 films with Theo Angelopoulos, but in his case his style is quiet but with motion. His style includes filming from the top or shooting footage of people moving from right to left. To tell you the truth, I’m not that fond of such style. Instead, I prefer to present simple and plain scenes, naturally. I believe in being very sincere with my audience. So in my case, I want to show everything in the open and relay to my audience that “This is the story I want to present without any tricks up my sleeve.” In such a situation, everything becomes related from the movement of the camera to the music. I think it’s very dangerous to scheme something in filmmaking.

Hariki: I kind of find Angelopoulos quite interesting. He seems to prefer a detailed type of arrangement of lining people on the side.

Pirselimoğlu: My film has a symmetrically structured story so I consciously tried to destroy it visually. I tried to arrange things in an unbalanced way. I tried placing more weight on one side compared to another.

Hariki: When you watch the film a number of times, you start to notice different parts of the film each time you see it. I think you can say the same thing about looking at a drawing.

Pirselimoğlu: I’m really glad to hear you say that. My friends also saw the film as part of the audience. They told me, however, that their impression of the film changed after seeing the motion picture two or three times. I think you can make the point that the audience doesn’t take notice of detail on their first viewing, but when they see the film the second time, they start to understand the ideas behind parts of the film because they already know what the story is.

Hariki: Let me tell you about how I reacted to the film. The slippers, shoes and automobile appear in the film. These are items that are first empty inside. Yet when the protagonist starts using them, an interesting connection is made between the main character and the items. It seems that these items are just waiting for the protagonist to use them. In the end, however, what awaits the protagonist is prison (chuckle).

Pirselimoğlu: My thinking didn’t go that far but come to think of it, I like your way of thinking. You’re absolutely right. That’s why I love films. Everyone sees a film in a different angle. And depending on what type of film, motion pictures can take you in a certain direction. Every interpretation of a film is correct. That’s the great thing about motion pictures. There’s a famous story. When Bergman was being interviewed about his film, a film critic said, “That scene was great. That man trundling a barrel as he walked looked as if he was trundling god, don’t you think?” Bergman replied, “You’re right, that was great, wasn’t it?” It was an example where he really didn’t think about it that way but he said he did. Perhaps Bergman unconsciously used the expression “trundling god”.

Hariki: That’s what creation is all about. Even the creator isn’t made aware of things.

Pirselimoğlu: You’re absolutely right.

Hariki: Are you writing a novel right now?

Pirselimoğlu: Not only a novel but also a script. I don’t know when I’ll complete them, though. Right now, my greatest problem is funding. I’m also the producer.

Hariki: For the past year or two, I find that whatever film festival I visit, there are only a few Turkish films.

Pirselimoğlu: International interest in our films is on the rise, but you may be right about what you say.

Hariki: Our film festival is paying attention because we’re interested in putting together a feature on Turkish films. In the past, we’ve shown films directed by Reis Çelik and Semih Kaplanoğlu. We were the first to show Semih Kaplanoğlu’s first film from his trilogy before any film festival in Japan.

Pirselimoğlu: He is a friend of mine.

Hariki: At the time we showed two of his films.

Pirselimoğlu: He’s in America now, shooting his new film on a real big budget.

Hariki: I’m a bit concerned.

Pirselimoğlu: It’s a science-fiction film.

Hariki: I really like his films.

Pirselimoğlu: So do I.

Hariki: It was a shame because when we showed his films in Fukuoka, not many came to see them.

Pirselimoğlu: That may be. But even I know that it takes time before an audience can accept his films.

Hariki: But a film has to have an audience to survive.

Pirselimoğlu: It’s a problem all artistic films shoulder.

Hariki: Are there any good Turkish films around?

Pirselimoğlu: There was this film, “Beyond the Hill” made about two years ago. That was very interesting. “Sivas”, a film taking its title from the name of the town, was interesting as well. The film took two awards in Venice. It was the first feature film from a young film director. I’ll send you the names of other films if they come across my mind.

Hariki: A stupid comment. When a Japanese hears your name “Tayfun”, they imagine a big storm (typhoon).

Pirselimoğlu: It’s a name that’s quite common in Turkey. It has a strange sound to it that some have asked if that’s my screen name.

Hariki: How is politics in Turkey now?

Pirselimoğlu: Terrible and it’s getting worse every day. After all, you see warfare just across the border in Iraq and Syria. People are getting massacred so America might intervene. I was talking about politics outside Turkey but we have a huge pile of problems domestically as well. Society is becoming more conservative and dictatorial by the day. Turkey is becoming a one party one man government.

Hariki: You have a President now who used to be Prime Minister.

Pirselimoğlu: The problem is that he believes he was selected by the popular vote. It’s as if he’s saying he can do whatever he wants.

Hariki: Just like in Japan (chuckle).

Pirselimoğlu: But your leader’s doing a better job, isn’t he? Regardless, politicians always think they’re doing the right thing. There’s big corruption in Turkey. How about exchanging countries (chuckle)?

Hariki: Your film isn’t necessarily cheerful but is that because it has a reflection on the psychology of political affairs?

Pirselimoğlu: Usually I don’t get that pessimistic but pessimism in itself comes from the state of affairs of the world. What I personally believe is that we have to bring everything to an end in some way. Complete destruction is necessary. After everything is destroyed, we can start again and create.

Hariki: Maybe you’re right. Japan became that way, after we lost the war. After that, a good age followed and continued. Yet in these last 20 years, the human heart has become depressed. That’s the reason why I think the Japanese are not mentally stable. Many say Japan now looks like the nation it was before it got into the war.

Pirselimoğlu: As a matter of fact, Turkey hasn’t had many instances of fighting its own wars. But then we had the collapse of the Soviet Union. And things are getting really bad in Iraq and everywhere around it (chuckle). But the issue of instability is the same everywhere in the world. We know something is happening but we don’t know what it is. We only have this sense that we’re headed towards destruction. So my next film will depict an attitude that if destruction is coming, let it. That we can’t move ahead without it. I plan to start shooting a winter scene this year, but if I can’t, I’ll have to extend the shooting to next winter.

Hariki: Please complete it before the end of the world.

Pirselimoğlu: I’ll do my best but before I can finish it, maybe it’ll be the end for me and maybe there won’t be any audiences left (chuckle).

Hariki: Lastly, your impression of Fukuoka?

Pirselimoğlu: As a matter of fact, this was my first trip to Fukuoka. Your staff has been very friendly and warm. People in the city have been kind and the food’s been great. I feel that I’ve finally arrived here. My friends always told me that Fukuoka was an exception but perhaps this is because the people here are open to the outside world.

Hariki: After all, the people of Fukuoka love festivals. Mr. Çelik also loves Fukuoka. Please take the opportunity to go see the food stalls in the city. It was a great opportunity to speak with you today. Thank you.

Pirselimoğlu: I thank you also. I feel I was able to present a meaningful conversation today.

 

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THE FILM HIGHLIGHTS 15 “THE JUNGLE SCHOOL”

FILM FESTIVAL DIRECTOR YASUHIRO HARIKI PRESENTS
THE FILM HIGHLIGHTS

If you missed this film during our festival, I highly recommend that you try and see it in a theater or film festival nearest you, or why not rent out the video if it’s available.

“The Jungle School” (2013/Indonesia)
Directed by Riri Riza

Children in the jungle who learn the joy of learning…

Does intelligence truly benefit humanity or does it only serve to destroy tradition? The film digs deep addressing this modern dilemma. Butet, who works for a NGO with jurisdiction over the jungle of the island of Sumatra, teaches village children in the upstream of the forest, how to read and write. One day, a boy from a village in the downstream of the forest saves her. She learns that adults in his village do not know how to read or write and because of this, receive ill treatment from outsiders. However, the adults are fearful of children learning how to read and write because they feel the children will leave the village once they are educated. Yet the sight of the village children who sincerely want to learn, gives Butet the courage to go forward towards the establishment of a jungle school…

The story is based on a true story. The will to change society and a gentle and kind look at humanity are presented in the motion picture in a style typical of a Riri Riza directed film.

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THE FILM HIGHLIGHTS 14 “Fish & Cat”

FILM FESTIVAL DIRECTOR YASUHIRO HARIKI PRESENTS
THE FILM HIGHLIGHTS

If you missed this film during our festival, I highly recommend that you try and see it in a theater or film festival nearest you, or why not rent out the video if it’s available.

“Fish & Cat”(2013 /Iran)
Directed by Shahram Mokri

134 minutes in one single cut…A true masterpiece.

I think this is the most stimulating film we have this year. It is also artistically sophisticated. Alfred Hitchcock and Aleksandr Sokurov tried this same technique, but this film, which wraps 134 minutes in one single cut, is amazing. Students assemble in a lakeside surrounded by a forest to participate in a kite flying event. From the nearby restaurant, cooks leave for the forest in search of cooking “meat”. Filled with an air of ill-omen, the camera moves indefinitely.

You get the taste of a horror film but you never see any horror scenes. An air of ill-omen just keeps pulling you further into the film. Just like David Lynch. The audience keeps on wandering through the film, filled with “uncertainty” that something terrible is going to happen. Yet they are brought back to the same place over and over again. Something like a Tarr Béla film from Hungary. The film might show another location but the camera comes right back to where everything began In short, there is no exit. The notion of the original title “A Cat Targeting a Fish” continues. This is something like what we all experience inside. The audience has no choice but to keep watching the film. I feel the film is the most modernistic motion picture of our time.

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THE FILM HIGHLIGHTS 13 “FUKU-CHAN OF FUKUFUKU FLATS”

FILM FESTIVAL DIRECTOR YASUHIRO HARIKI PRESENTS
THE FILM HIGHLIGHTS

If you missed this film during our festival, I highly recommend that you try and see it in a theater or film festival nearest you, or why not rent out the video if it’s available.

“Fuku-chan of FukuFuku Flats” (2014/Japan)
Directed by Yousuke Fujita

Fuku-Chan has strange powers…A human comedy that sends you on a nostalgic drift…

This is the first starring role for actress Miyuki Oshima of the Japanese comic trio “Morisanchū”. In the film she plays the role of a male middle-aged building painter with a close-cropped hairstyle. Miyuki Oshima successfully won the Best Actress Award in Canada for this role for which we wholeheartedly offer our congratulations.

The protagonist, Tatsuo Fukuda, commonly known as “Fuku-Chan” is a building painter who lives in a shabby apartment complex called the “FukuFuku Flats”. Fuku-Chan has a dilemma of not being able to deal with women. The film shows how Fuku-Chan overcomes his dilemma in a hilarious comedy that will exhaust you with laughter.

Fuku-Chan is simple. He thinks normally and lives a normal life. He has the good qualities of what the Japanese had in the past, which reminds us that “yes, there used to be middle-age men like that, in the good old days.”

Fuku-Chan is blessed with the power to turn people around him into “normal human beings”. That’s because Fuku-Chan is surrounded by eccentrics. Noting this, I felt the Japanese may be suffering from nerves. Yet seeing Fuku-Chan’s lifestyle, of throwing a really slow breaking ball towards life, made me feel at ease.

I’d recommend this film to people who may have difficulty dealing with others.

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