The Asian Cinema Culture Forum was held on September 18 (Sunday). The theme of the second part of the Forum was “The Potential For an Asian Sense of Horror and Comedy”. The audience broke into thunderous applause as the Master of Ceremony and panelists arrived. Mr. Junchiro Fukao from the Graduate School of Film Producing served as the Master of Ceremony to panelists Wi Ding Ho, film director of “Pinoy Sunday”, Koji Fukuda, film director of “Hospitalité” and Professor Yukihiro Yamamoto of Kyoto University.
In the beginning Kaori Shinozaki of the Malaysian Film Culture Research Association explained the gist of the Forum by saying “We chose these two motion pictures on the basis that they belong to a type of filmmaking which transcends borders and which deals with how to accept foreigners.”
Then Mr. Yamamoto explained that, “the understanding behind Hollywood monster films and Southeast Asian ghost films are different. In the former, the monster is made to be a villain while in the latter it is a weak natured victim. For this reason in the latter, the thought is that unless the ghost is treated with hospitality, it will come to haunt you. So depending on the audience, this may be a horror film or a comedy film.” After Mr. Yamamoto’s explanation, the subject of discussion focused on filmmaking transcending borders.
Wi Dong Ho, who studied filmmaking in New York explained: “ I chose Filipinos to be the protagonists because despite the Philippines being the closest country to Taiwan, we tend not to know that much about their people. There was much surprise reaction about a film set in Taiwan where the protagonists are Filipinos, but I took this as my new challenge. However people in Taipei seemed to be shocked at the fact that there was hardly anyone from Taiwan in the cast. In this sense, I think the motion picture is a powerful medium that can change the viewpoint and sense of value of the audience.” Film director Fukada commented that, “I also think motion pictures have a role in bringing problems into the open that may not be apparent in Japanese society. In my films, I’d like to show a side of life that confronts confusion. I understand these things happen between foreigners, but you can say the same thing about friends, family and married couples.”
“Pinoy Sunday” took 23 days while ““Hospitalité” was completed in 8 days. “This is crazy” exclaimed film director Wi Dong Ho. He added with a smile that, “I haven’t seen his film yet but I think what Mr. Fukada and I are depicting, by way of creating a mixture through transcending borders, is the same.” Participants of the Forum were seen taking notes and nodding to the comments made by the two up and coming film directors.
“A Fukada World that makes the best use of theatrical technique”
Erico Ono, the child actress in the film showed up all dressed up in a one-piece dress at the Question and Answer session together with film director Koji Fukada and Kiki Sugino. There were chuckles in the audience as Festival Director Hariki asked the child actress on how the shooting went, to which she replied, “ it was real hot!”
There were plenty of hands raised for questions during the session. Film director Fukada deeply bowed his head at comments expressed by the audience such as “It was so strange seeing the everyday practice of brushing one’s teeth look so funny”, “The unimaginable, unnatural setting looked so natural” and “The process depicted in the film of how to draw in customers was enjoyable”.
Belonging to the Department of Direction of the theatrical group, “Seinendan”, film director Fukada said, “ I thought I could apply techniques used in the theater to motion pictures. The script was practically written with the performers in mind. You know human beings are social creatures that shoulder roles such as being family members, friends, husbands and wives. That’s why I wrote the script with dialog that showed just the right amount of transparency in what the real intentions were.” The film was originally planned as a short film. Ms. Sugino, who proposed changes to make it a full feature film explained that, “although the motion picture was shown in over 90 countries, the points of laughter differ with each country. I think our success is due to the film director’s directional technique which stirred up imagination for the cast without being too pushy.”
The film director chuckled as he explained that “originally, I wanted to depict the interesting aspect of other people coming into a family and bringing confusion to the family’s sense of values, but I was fortunate in being able to have the audience interpret my film in their own way based on their personal experiences.” To Festival Director Hariki’s question on his next film, the film director replied, “ a melodrama based on a Japanese folk story.” Much anticipation will be placed on a new phase of Mr. Fukada’s world.
“I’d like to express the universality that flows in a stateless world”
He has Malaysian citizenship but lives in Taiwan and his first feature film sets a Filipino protagonist in Taipei! The film director of this motion picture, which has a striking air of statelessness, studied filmmaking in three universities in North America after graduating from a Malaysian high school. Thereafter he would shoot short films during the weekends while taking a computer related job during the week. We were quite surprised that he considered filmmaking only as a hobby and not a full profession. However he got himself engrossed in filmmaking after his graduation thesis film at New York University won an award. After his short film entry to the Cannes Film Festival won a prize, he was convinced in saying, “I’m a film director, after all”. Looking back, he says, “It was a long journey”.
On his present film, which is a comedy, the director explained that he wanted to thoroughly depict the present condition of foreign workers, the social setting of Taiwan and human universality. He smiled as he said, “Wherever I go, I find the spirit of foreigners and as a result, I have a hard time establishing my own style. So I’d like to challenge myself to do a film in a different genre.” Festival Director Hariki was unable to conceal his excitement as he said, “here we have an up and coming borderless film director to look forward to!”
“Is this a documentary, or fiction?”
Park Chan-kyong is a film director whose artistic talents have been highly acclaimed in private exhibitions, biennales and other endeavors in Europe, the United States and Asia. He then turned to the direction of making short films, and in 2010 marked his feature film directional debut with “Anyang, Paradise City”. Before his film was shown, film director Park Chan-kyong gave some advice to the audience by saying, “People refer to Anyang as being the closest to a Buddhist Paradise in all of the Korean Peninsula. I did some research on Anyang, and turned this research into a film. So please see my film as if it’s a fact finding journey.” The audience saw the film, which appeared mysterious. Was it a documentary, or fiction? Then the Question and Answer period began. The film actually addresses a fire, which killed 22 women working at the Green Hill Sewing Factory. However on the method of depiction the film took, the film director commented: “I didn’t want to handle this in a sensational way and neither was I interested in extracting any search of conscious for what happened in the past. I only thought about how to express our condolences and I wanted to have the audience sense this.” To a male movie fan that asked “whether there was anything special about having a shaman appear so often in the film, the film director responded that, “I’m really interested in Shamanism. In fact, I’d like to restore in good balance what’s been lost in these modernized times as culture”. The film director’s sincerity in trying to respond to each question was very impressive.
“A film that carves all imaginable human conflicts into a relief”
Mr. Babak Karimi who plays the judge in the film, appeared for the Question and Answer session wearing a refreshing blue shirt. The film is directed by Asghar Farhadi, whose previous film, “About Elly” was awarded the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. “Nader and Simin, A Separation”, his next film outdid his previous by being awarded the Golden Bear at the same Berlin International Film Festival. The film apparently is such a blockbuster hit in Iran that its theatrical road show continues even after a year.
Festival Director Hariki commented “that it’s rare to see such a film like this which ends by superbly throwing questions at the audience.” Mr. Karimi then amused the crowd by throwing a black joke by saying, “maybe I wouldn’t have had to go through a divorce if I’d seen this film 10 years ago.”
There was a question from the audience on the directional methods of the film director, Asghar Farhadi. Mr. Karimi responded that, “I myself practiced on my role by spending one month at a judicial court observing the work of three judges from morning to night. Now the 11-year old child in the film is actually the director’s daughter. In order to get the feeling of being the daughter in the film, she lived with the actor who plays her father, for one month.” To a voice in the audience which said, “I felt 10 years of my life conflict in this 2 hour film and felt the film asking me what I was going to do with my life from now”, Mr. Karimi responded with a look of satisfaction by saying, “Merci!”.
“Please enjoy seeing this traditional hero with a dual face of justice and evil”
The audience welcomed Mr. Everlingham with thunderous applause. “The Red Eagle” is a best selling novel, which was published in 1956. Mit Chaibancha, who originally starred as the Red Eagle became a legendary hero but unfortunately met his untimely death while shooting the film. “It was an honor to be able to take over the role of a hero everybody knew about, but at the same time, it gave me a lot of pressure” said Mr. Everlingham. The film he stars in unfolds a story of political corruption with non-stop action and punch. He recalled that, “it was extremely difficult playing the role of a complex hero with a dual face of justice and evil. Those two days of continuous shooting in a freezer set at –8 degrees centigrade really took a toll on my body.” There were many exciting questions from men in the audience.
Mr. Everlingham started show business at the age of 13. His professionalism showed in the way he handled the audience. With a pretty smile, he told the crowd, “ this film is for adults. Please look forward to the sequel”.