Category Archives: Movies

Hafu the Film is Coming to Kyoto!

From Megumi Nishikura,

““Hafu” is the unfolding journey of discovery into the intricacies of mixed-race Japanese and their multicultural experience in modern day Japan. The film follows the lives of five “hafus”–the Japanese term for people who are half-Japanese–as they explore what it means to be multiracial and multicultural in a nation that once proudly proclaimed itself as the mono-ethnic nation. For some of these hafus Japan is the only home they know, for some living in Japan is an entirely new experience, and others are caught somewhere between two different worlds.”

HAFU_poster_smallHafu the film will receive its theatrical release in Kyoto from March 29th to April 4th.
Showings are at 8:45pm each day at the Kyoto Miniami Kaikan Cinema (京都みなみ会館)
Address: Nishikujō Higashihieijōchō Minami-ku, Kyōto-shi (京都市南区西九条東比永城町7979)
Location: South from Kyoto Station, on the south side of Kujo Street, a short walk west of Kintetsu Tōji Station.
Click here for the SCHEDULE.
Click here for a MAP.

“According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, one in forty-nine babies born in Japan today are born into families with one non-Japanese parent. This newly emerging minority in Japan is under-documented and under-explored in both literature and media. The feature-length HD documentary film, “Hafu – the mixed-race experience in Japan” seeks to open this increasingly important dialogue. The film explores race, diversity, multiculturalism, nationality, and identity within the mixed-race community of Japan. And through this exploration, it seeks to answer the following questions: What does it mean to be hafu?; What does it mean to be Japanese?; and ultimately, What does all of this mean for Japan?”

See also: http://hafufilm.com

Buddhism after the Tsunami – Free Movie Screening at Chion-in

buddhism afterFrom Souls of Zen via Jean Downey:

“We are delighted to announce that Chion-in, the head temple of Jodo (Pure Land) Buddhism in Japan will show Buddhism after the Tsunami this March in Kyoto!”

From Ten Thousand Things: Souls of Zen – Buddhism, Ancestors, and the 2011 Tsunami in Japan follows the “greatest religious mobilization in Japan´s postwar history.” Filmed from March to December 2011, the documentary by Tim Graf, a graduate student at Tohoku University, and director/cinematographer Jakob Montrasio  explored  the everyday lives of Buddhist professionals in the disaster zone, and Japan’s tradition of ancestor veneration in the wake of 3/11, focusing on Soto Zen and Jodo Pure Land Buddhism.

13 March 2014 @ 13:30
14 March 2014 @ 13:30
15 March 2014 @ 16:30

Chion-in Wajun Kaikan, B2 Floor, Wajun Hall
Free and open to the public!
Details in Japanese at the LINK

Buddhism after the Tsunami – The Souls of Zen 3/11 Japan Special (Classroom Edition) – Trailer from Tim Graf on Vimeo.

See also: Souls of Zen

CSEAS Visual Documentary Project: “Plural Co-existence in Southeast Asia”

From Mario Lopez,

The Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), Kyoto University is
proud to announce that it will host a film forum to show five selected
documentaries by independent, young film-makers from Southeast Asia on
the topic of plural co-existence. This is an OPEN forum and we invite
anyone who is interested to participate.

Date and Time: March 11 (Tuesday), starts from 13.00

Venue: Large Conference Room (Room 330), Inamori Foundation Building 3rd floor (MAP)

http://sea-sh.cseas.kyoto-u.ac.jp/en/event/visual-documentary-project2013/

Southeast Asia is a place of rich diversity and home to over 600
million people. This diversity, a product of centuries of social,
cultural, political and religious development, is at the heart of
Southeast Asian societies. Migration, work opportunities, and the flow
of cultural goods all create opportunities for people across to the
region to meet each other with people living side by side. In this
process they contribute to the creation of different groupings known
as “plural societies.” This forum hopes to stimulate, and raise
awareness of how Southeast Asian filmmakers consider the plurality in
their societies and visually document it.

This year we have a selection of short films from Thailand, Vietnam,
Cambodia, and the Philippines.

For any inquiries contact Mario Lopez marioivanlopez[at]cseas.kyoto-u.ac.jp

Mario Lopez
Co-organizer

Double click on the image below to view it in a larger size.
CSEAS cut

Japanese Film Screenings with English Subtitles at KICH

Kyoto International Community House has a series of FREE Japanese film screenings with English subtitles now ongoing. This would be a wonderful opportunity for movie fans if it weren’t for the awkward scheduling during weekday office hours. Why not an evening or weekend showing? Well, if you are free at these times, then these are the films up-coming: Continue reading

A Life in Japan

Film-maker Petri Storlöpare answers questions at Urbanguild.

On Monday evening I attended the premiere of Petri Storlöpare’s documentary movie “A Life in Japan” at Urbanguild. In the movie, footage from all over Japan is accompanied by excerpts from interviews with 19 foreign residents of Japan. According to the film-maker, the objective is to let the viewer have a glimpse of Japanese life through foreign eyes. The participants explain how they first came to Japan, why they stayed, the problems they have encountered, the things they have learned, their loves, their hates, their hopes and their regrets. The movie lasts for 77  minutes, and though it is essentially just people talking, it is both entertaining and thought provoking. Alejandro Peña Flores from Mexico, speaks of how Japan has taught him something about honesty.  Duduzile Sibanyoni speaks of police harassment and how that resurrected for her memories of apartheid in her native South Africa. Canadian Micah Gampel relates his disappointment at being unable to save his favorite machiya townhouse from destruction at the hands of developers… For me, as a long time resident in Japan, there were many experiences I recognized and related to. But I think that “A Life in Japan” would be most useful for people who are considering moving here from abroad, or for Japanese who might be interested in getting a fresh perspective on their own country (the movie has Japanese subtitles).
Now, this movie received quite a lot of flak on Facebook recently, before anyone had even seen it, on the grounds that it wasn’t representative enough. Some people who viewed the trailer were concerned that the movie didn’t have enough women in it. Others accused the movie of being Orientalist, and being only concerned with the opinions of white men from developed countries. Well, having seen the movie for myself I can state that these fears were misplaced. At no point during the screening did I feel that the movie felt culturally or gender biased. Seven of the nineteen participants are women, and though they are slightly fewer in number than the men, it’s not something you would notice in terms of screen time. It should also be remembered that Petri Storlöpare made this movie by himself, at his own expense over a three year period, with no funding or sponsorship, so making a movie that was perfectly representative of the expat population here was not something he could ever have possibly done. By his own admission he wasn’t really trying to do that anyway.

The intention was not to try to give an objective all encompassing picture of Japan, but to let you experience it through personal opinions and experiences of different people. The interviewees had the chance to speak freely, within loose frames, about the topics of their choice.
From the website A Life in Japan

I asked Petri how he chose the participants, and he told me that he began by interviewing friends in Kyoto, and then friends of friends and then after he had been doing that for a year he realized he didn’t have enough women in the movie. So he cast his net further and traveled as far as Tottori and Kyushu in a deliberate effort to make a more balanced movie. As for the ethnicity of the participants, there are people from twelve different countries and six different continents. I think for one man’s individual project, that’s not a bad balance at all!

Well, I hope I have laid those concerns to rest. The movie should stand on its own merits. I enjoyed it myself, and most of the people who saw it with me on Monday seemed to respond positively. I would happily recommend it to anyone who is curious about life in Japan, or perhaps even as an educational tool. If you are curious about the movie, you can learn more about it and download it here.

Here’s that controversial trailer:

Dolphin Dance Project

When the Dolphin Dance Project begins, it is welcomed by a pod of more than 300 dolphins as one of their own. The boat is surrounded by dolphins, leaping, playing – they ride the bow wave of the boat, even turning on their side to see us better. Mothers and aunties bring their babies to have a look. Even our local boat captain and videographer were amazed.
– From the Dolphin Dance Project site.

Watching this video, what’s really amazing to me is the incredibly trusting nature of these dolphins. I wonder why they don’t consider the boat and the humans in it as potential predators? There’s something amazing and quite moving about this trust, but it is also quite sad when you think how easily and how often this trust is betrayed.

This image from Dolphin Dance Project.

One of the many arguments against the building of the Kyoto Aquarium is the issue of cruelty to animals, specifically dolphins. The building of a dolphinarium for “edutainment purposes” is a central aspect of the building plans and having seen those plans I can tell you that the space allotted for the dolphins is clearly both constrictive and cruel. Research has proven that dolphins are both intelligent animals capable of self-awareness, abstract thought, and creativity. They are also emotional animals that exhibit profound familial and social bonds. Some scientists have even suggested they should be considered “non-human persons” and afforded rights equivalent to our own. In other words, we ought to treat them better than taking them out of their natural habitat, confining them in pools and using them purely for our own entertainment.

Here's a screenshot from the architects plans(click to see it larger). Note the dolphin ふれあい pool on the left where children may touch the dolphins.

Many of the postcards designed by Kawagoe Yoshio-san for the anti-aquarium campaign, depict dolphins, and frequently with a message that reads “君とは海で会いたい!” – I want to meet you in the ocean! This message that we should encounter wild creatures such as dolphins in their natural habitat and not in an entirely artificial environment is a strong one. So it seemed serendipitous that Chisa Hidaka the director of the Dolphin Dance Project should offer to show her short movie “Together” at the “Voices for Umekoji” event on Friday. The message is essentially the same.

Chisa Hidaka

Dancer and choreographer, Chisa Hidaka, initiated the Dolphin Dance Project in order to promote inter-species understanding. Having encountered dolphins in the wild, Chisa became intrigued by the similarities between dolphin play and human dance and began a project of filming inter-species improvised dance as a means of profound communication. The debut film, ‘Together: Dancing with Spinner Dolphins,’ won ‘Best Experimental Film’ at its world premiere at the Big Apple Film Festival. This film shows a human dancer and a wild spinner dolphin dancing playfully together beneath the waves. Though short, it is beautiful to watch and leaves you wanting more. Happily ‘Together’ is but a pilot for a longer film to be shot in 2011. ‘Sharing the Dance’ will be a full-length documentary about the making of a group dance with several human dancers and a pod of wild dolphins.

We are very proud to be showing the movie “Together” at our event on Friday! Here’s the trailer!

Wild dolphins are incredibly precious! They are rare – maybe unique – in being creatures who are truly wild and yet who are willing to reach across the species divide to approach humans voluntarily, out of their own curiosity and interest to interact. What happens if we respond to this invitation by offering ourselves as their equal? The possibilities for paradigm-shifting experiences are profound. We are given the opportunity to experience ourselves not as the dominant species destined to rule the world, but a creature who shares likeness and equality with another species on the planet. Wouldn’t such an experience radically change our assumptions about how to treat the Earth, her creatures and her resources?
-Chisa Hidaka

Event details here: http://www.deepkyoto.com/?p=4964
Useful links:
http://www.dolphin-dance.org
http://www.kyoto-mamoru.org./

“Children of Water” & Morphic Jukebox @ Jittoku

Last Friday I attended the Kyoto premiere of Roger Walch‘s new movie “Children of Water” at Jittoku. The venue was a legendary live house in Kyoto (Japan’s oldest in fact) that has been open since 1973. Like the equally famous TakuTaku the building is a converted saka-gura – a kind of traditional sake warehouse. This was my first time to visit this fine old venue.

Jittoku is open 17:30 - 24:00. Live music every night between 19:00 - 21:00. Situated on the east side of Omiya, north of Marutamachi. Click on the picture for an access map and check the website for irregular holidays: http://www2.odn.ne.jp/jittoku/

Folk rock funsters Morphic Jukebox have a couple of songs in the movie’s soundtrack, so they performed a live set before the movie was shown. I’ve put some videos of their performance at the end of this post.

Roger’s movie was an interesting and moving story about different and sometimes clashing cultural attitudes towards child-rearing, and abortion as they play out in a particular cross-cultural relationship. Continue reading

Children of Water – Kyoto Premiere!

Picture courtesy of Roger Walch

Regular readers will remember that just over a year ago I interviewed Roger Walch and Ted Taylor about the making of the movie “Children of Water”. At that time we had a wide-ranging discussion about story-telling, old movies, jizo statues, and very, very creepy kokeshi dolls. Well, now’s your chance to see the movie here in Kyoto! Roger says…

I have the honor to announce two screenings of my new film “Children of Water” in Kyoto. The premiere will take place on Oct. 1 and an additional screening on Nov. 26. Starring Ted Taylor and Lili Sakamoto, the movie was shot in Kyoto and Ishikawa prefectures. It is very different from my previous films and deals with the theme of abortion…

Synopsis:
After one year in an ESL-course in the US, Mina (a Japanese graphic designer) returns to Kyoto and discovers that she is pregnant. She contemplates abortion, but her American boyfriend Brad strongly opposes and flies to Japan to convince her to keep the baby. During his stay he not only gets to know life and customs in Japan but also different moral and religious values.

Here’s the trailer:

“Children of Water”
– a film by Roger Walch

Film Premiere and Concert:

October 1st (Fri) at Jittoku
There will be a concert by Morphic Jukebox before the screening
Rob Cross – vocals, guitar, harmonica
Russ Hubert – vocals, guitar, trumpet
Nao Hattori – bass
Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm (doors open at 6 pm)
Location: Jittoku, Kyoto (two blocks North of Marutamachi/Omiya on Omiya St., 15 min from Subway Marutamachi station)

Next Screening:
November 26 (Fri) at Kyoto International Community House
This event also features short films by Alessandro Mavilio
(Doei Taoist Movies Kyoto)
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm (doors open at 6:30pm)
Location: Kyoto International Community House (2-1 Torii-cho, Awataguchi, Sakyo-ku Kyoto,
6 min from Subway Keage station)

Related: An Interview with film-makers Roger Walch and Ted Taylor

Rashomon Movie Event @ KPIC

Here’s one for the movie buffs. Kurosawa Akira’s classic movie Rashomon will be screened at Kyoto Prefecture International Center on September 11th,  and – here’s the crucial bit – with subtitles!

Two other classic Japanese movies will also be shown at later dates. Here’s the good word from KPIC:

In coordination with the Japan Foundation, three outstanding examples of Japanese cinema are being made available to the foreign community. These films, with English subtitles, are not available through every-day rental stores here in Japan, so this is a rare opportunity. Rashomon is being shown in recognition of the 100th anniversary of its director, Akira Kurosawa’s, birthday (1910 – 1998).

The Movies:

Rashomon, September 11 (Saturday afternoon);
Synopsis: This masterpiece by Kurosawa is based on two stories by Akutagawa Ryūnosuke. In 12th century Japan, a travelling samurai and his wife are kidnapped by the notorious bandit Tajomaru. Rape and murder follow. After Tajomaru is captured and put on trial, four different witnesses give four radically different accounts of what occured in the forest.

The Munekata Sisters (directed by Ozu Yasujiro), Friday October 8.
Synopsis: Setsuko is married to the alcoholic and unemployed Mimura. Secretly she has always loved Hiroshi but they both failed to declare their love before Hiroshi left for France several years before. Now he has returned and Setsuko’s sister Mariko, despite her own feelings for Hiroshi, tries to reunite them.

The Twin Sisters of Kyoto (directed by Noboru Nakamura), Friday November 26.
Synopsis: Based on the novel The Old Capital by Nobel prize winner Yasunari Kawabata, this is the story of the adopted daughter of a Kyoto merchant who discovers she has a twin. They were separated at birth and now live in radically different social spheres

All of these movies have a Kyoto connection. To help put them into a historical and cultural context they will be preceded by a short introduction and followed by a group discussion.

Location: Kyoto Station, 9th Floor, Kyoto Prefecture International Center. Click here for access information.

Time: Starting at 1:30 p.m., there will be an introduction of background information, followed by the film showing, and then an open discussion, finishing at about 5:00 p.m.

The event is free but you need to sign up in advance. You can sign up by by fax (075-342-5050), e-mail(cinema@kpic.or.jp), or phone (075-342-5000) or (wonders!) on the internet by simply clicking here!


Children of Water – First Showing!

It’s almost a year ago now that I interviewed Roger Walch and Ted Taylor during the making of the movie “Children of Water”. Regular readers may remember a wide-ranging discussion about story-telling, old movies, jizo statues, and very, very creepy kokeshi dolls. The movie will have its premiere showing in Nara on July 19th. See the details on the poster below:

Actually Roger likes to call this its “pre-premiere” as he will have a bigger premiere in Kyoto in the autumn. Says Roger:

Synopsis:
After one year in an ESL-course in the US, Mina (a Japanese graphic designer) returns to Kyoto and discovers that she is pregnant. She contemplates abortion, but her American boyfriend Brad strongly opposes and flies to Japan to convince her to keep the baby. During his stay he not only gets to know life and customs in Japan but also different moral and religious values.

There will be a shakuhachi/piano performance before the screening.

Mina: Lili Sakamoto
Brad: Ted Taylor
Written and directed by Roger Walch
Music by Morphic Jukebox

The location in Nara is a Restaurant called “Geppo”. It is 5 minutes on foot from Kintetsu Nara station. One block south of Sanjo-dori and a bit East of Konishi-dori.

Thanks Roger!

Related: The Children of Water interview