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Archive for Cinema

The fourth annual Shinsedai Cinema Festival relocates to The Revue Cinema in Roncesvalles Village

Toronto, ON – Chris MaGee, co-founder of The Shinsedai Cinema Festival announced today that the fourth annual edition of the festival will be presented at The Revue Cinema in Roncesvalles Village, fromThursday, July 12 – Sunday, July 15, 2012.

Celebrating the new generation of films from Japan, the festival has become an avenue for young Japanese filmmakers to have their work screened overseas. It is renowned for presenting: dramas, quirky comedies, hard-hitting documentaries, experimental shorts and more. The Festival has also commissioned Toronto-based musicians and sound artists to create live scores for numerous classic Japanese silent films.

One early acquisition for The Festival’s 2012 line-up is the Canadian premiere of world renowned artist and animator Akino Kondoh’s new animated short film KiyaKiya.

The Shinsedai Cinema Festival has established itself as a vital part of Toronto’s lively and competitive film scene, representing a unique film project in the city. In 2011 the Festival received over 100 film submissions.

“One of the city’s youngest and most original movie events”

–          The Toronto Star

Gen Takahashi’s Confessions of a Dog received its Canadian premiere in 2010, and since then, the film has secured a DVD release in Britain and invitations for screenings from numerous festivals across the globe. The music documentary Aruongaku received its world premiere at the inaugural festival in 2009. It has gone on to be an anticipated part of the international festival circuit, winning praise wherever it has screened.

“The goal of The Shinsedai Cinema Festival has been to expose the great new films being produced in Japan to as many people in the city of Toronto as we can,” said MaGee. “The decision to move the Festival to the Revue, one of the city’s premiere repertory theatres in 2012, allows our audiences, filmmakers and out of town special guests the opportunity to enjoy the variety of cuisine, restaurants, pubs, and retail stores in Roncesvalles Village, before, between and after our screenings.”

“[Shinsedai] is wonderful! It gives young filmmakers a chance”

–          Yojiro Takita, Oscar-winning director of Departures

Programming information for The Shinsedai Cinema Festival at The Revue Cinema 2012 will be announced over the coming months and available online at www.shinsedai.ca.

The Shinsedai Cinema Festival was co-founded in 2009 by Toronto native Chris MaGee, author and founder and editor of Toronto’s own J-Film Pow-Wow, the premiere Japanese film blog in Canada, and Jasper Sharp, UK writer, film historian and curator. Its purpose is to bring modern, boundary-pushing and independent-Japanese cinema to Toronto audiences each year, challenging Western audiences’ understanding and appreciation of what Japanese film is, now, and where it is going.

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New at Japan Flix: ‘Three String Samurai’ [review]

The fresh-faced JapanFlix has been selecting the tastiest flicks from all genres of eiga and giving them a much deserved US release. With all of them available to rent or buy through iTunes, it couldn’t possibly be easier to get a flavour of what we here in the States have been missing. I was given a special treat preview of the 2005 comedy Three String Samurai (オーバードライヴ in Japan), now available through the JapanFlix website.

There has always been a special place in Japan’s heart for the shamisen, both because of it’s native folk music connections and the peculiarly ancestral depths that it evokes.  The sound evolved around the late 1990’s, with the addition of multicultural instruments an expansion of the repertoire. In particular, the focus has strongly favoured the Tsugaru-jamisen native to northerly Aomori prefecture – which just happens to be where the story of our hero takes place.

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The Day I Embarrassed Tomorowo Taguchi. [video]

I didn’t realise there was video of this until just now. Looking through the NY Japan Society’s Youtube channel (check it out for some great interviews and their new show), I noticed some of the Q&A’s from 2010’s JapanCuts festival.

Any readers who saw my original post on this Q&A will recognise my embarrassing question (at about 5:30 in the video below). In my writeup, I had to combine his answer to me with a few others just to make it fit into context. He had already talked about his friendship with Jun Miura and the kind of boys-night-out that he usually had with his mates. This roughly gave a clue into how my question’s response came about.

Watching this back, I don’t feel quite so bad because Taguchi is clearly smiling and joking. At the time – as my sister was silently dying of laughter next to me – my heart was slowly sinking into my stomach, thinking I’d come across as…well, I didn’t quite know what he thought!

Two things I love about this response:

1. The way that Taguchi prepares himself by wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.

2. Poor Daichi Watanabe not hearing my original question, and absolutely cracking up at Taguchi’s answer.

Did my question make sense?? I didn’t mean to suggest…uhm…not that I…what?

Let me just say that I am all for male friends kissing and cuddling in bars, even if they don’t go home and shag each other! That is all.

‘Oh, My Buddha!’ w/Tomorowo Taguchi & Daichi Watanabe @Japan Society

[I’ve been rather torn about this writeup, because I was the one who asked the question which caused the embarrassment. Hence the extremely belated publish date. Read on to decide if maybe my question got lost in translation?]

Few would think there was anything that could make  actor/director Tomorowo Taguchi blush. Yet the man who has acted the full spectrum of psychopaths, miscreants, and weirdos, is fully capable of of being sweetly abashed.

Even at the second screening of his Oh, My Buddha! 「色即ぜねれしょん」 [Actual release title “Shikisoku Generation”] at the Japan Society, Taguchi was clearly delighted at the fresh round of praise for his second directing effort. He and leading man Daichi Watanabe gave an enthusiastic opening to the film, and afterward expressed their affection for a project celebrating the sweetness (and gentle disappointments) of youth.

The natural question was raised: how an actor well known for his iconic subculture status – especially for characters on the decidedly less savoury side of life – could turn out a film so affectionately portraying understated, middle class innocence? Oddly enough, this proved to be a rather difficult and embarrassing for the director to answer.

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‘Parade’ @Japan Society w/Isao Yukisada and Tatsuya Fujiwara

warning: this post contains spoilers (labelled)

“A horror movie disguised as a teenage slacker flick”

Such was director Isao Yukisada’s summation of his 2009 film Parade「パレード」. Speaking during a Q&A at New York’s Japan Society on July 10, Yukisada was surprisingly talkative and candid considering the deeply subversive film he had given to his audience.

Of course, there were likely many who had either sussed out the mystery earlier on, or simply read Shuichi Yoshida’s 2002 novel (though the collective gasp indicated that a fair few had not). Yet for a film that manages to successfully be two genres at once, and focuses on 5 different individuals, the ending loses none of it’s potency.

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‘Blood of Rebirth’ w/Toshiaki Toyoda @Japan Society

For those in New York of the 日本 persuasion, the 4 July holiday has been a mere sidenote. The main events have been courtesy of this year’s New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) and Japan Cuts. These sacred days of summer have offered long-awaited premiers of films still fresh off the reels in Japan, as well as rare opportunities to see The Best of Unreleased Naughties on the big screen. Spring may have had it’s cherry blossoms, but NYCJapan is in full bloom.

click to see my Flickr shots

A prize moment for devotees of cult films Aoi Haru and 9 Souls was the guest appearance of director Toshiaki Toyoda, who attended both screenings of his comeback film Blood of Rebirth 「蘇りの血」 for the film’s introduction and Q&A session afterward.

Saturday’s New York premier was akin to greeting a lost hero’s return for the packed audience, who applauded and cheered as he entered the stage doors. While almost all would have been acquainted with his very public arrest in 2005 – and the tarnishing of Hanging Garden‘s release – Toyoda’s life after prison until the announcement of Rebirth had remained a mystery. The movie itself only proved to deepen the mystery even more.

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Shinsedai Cinema Festival 2010 -The New Generation Japanese Film Festival

The founders of my two favourite resources for everything and anything about Japanese cinema have birthed a festival love-child, and considering the genes, this baby will be amazing. If you live near Toronto, then I envy you.

Shinsedai (literally “new generation”) promises only the choicest and freshest in current Japanese cinema. A sample from their website to whet the Japanocinemaphile’s appetite:

For four days between July 22nd and July 25th the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre will be host to everything from insightful dramas, quirky comedies, hard-hitting documentaries, experimental shorts, and beyond. The Shinsedai Cinema Festival will have something for everyone this summer.

Chris Magee, founder of Toronto J-Film Powwow and Jasper Sharp, co-founder of Midnight Eye are like the twin pillars of 日本映画. I don’t take a step toward getting a new film without consulting them first – and you would be hard pressed to think up a film, actor, or director that they haven’t covered.

So, wish me luck in my negotiations for getting up to Toronto in July, and join me in following the festival’s progress on Twitter and Facebook.