Jul 15

WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.

Director Toshiaki Toyoda receives a Japan Cuts award from Japan Society Senior Film Program Officer Samuel Jamier.

Director Toshiaki Toyoda (center) with Japan Society Senior Film Program Officer Samuel Jamier (left).

Japan’s Society fabulous film festival Japan Cuts is back and better than ever!  The 2013 lineup includes 24 films, some new and some older, all depicting Japanese society in the way that only Japanese cinema can.  This year’s festival kicked off last Thursday night with the movie I’M FLASH from Japan Cuts favorite Toshiaki Toyoda.  This director has attended previous festivals (2010’s Hanging Garden, 2012’s Monster’s Ball), and he was on hand this year as well to receive an award from Japan Society Senior Film Program Officer, Samuel Jamier (who announced this will be his last year with the festival.  His unique, witty introductions to each film will be missed).

Toyoda’s film stars Tatsuya Fujiwara, who appeared in the film Parade featured at Japan Cuts 2010, as the leader Rui of a religious sect called “Life is Beautiful.”  Rui has inherited the family business but is becoming disenchanted with it, and his bad behavior leads to a wild night with grave consequences.  The film takes place in Okinawa, and the presence of the sea is so prominent that it is almost an additional character.  Aside from Rui, we get to know his (often hideous) family as well as the three bodyguards hired to protect him, though I wish they had gone more into their back stories.

During the Q&A after the screening, Toyoda said that he had wanted to make a film after 3/11.  However, making one about what had happened felt crass, and Toyoda instead found himself making a differently themed movie about death.  The fact that the water plays such a big part in the film was his way of connecting it to the tsunami and the people who lost their lives in the disaster.  He remained tight-lipped in regard to an audience question about whether the religious sect in the movie was a reference to any particular Japanese cult, leaving it to viewers’ imagination.

This week some other directors will be present when their films are screened, so stay tuned for more updates from Japan Cuts 2013!

one comment so far...

  • End of Japan Cuts 2013 | Hills Learning Said on July 22nd, 2013 at 9:07 pm:

    […] Tragedy and Dearest, both of which deal with the theme of death (like the earlier screened I’M FLASH, and they all do this deftly in their own unique ways).  Japan’s Tragedy stars the amazing […]

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