Our 2nd day in Space O at Omotesando Hills was a full day of screenings of short film from around the world including an Animation program.
We started the day with the International Program 3. This program featured 5 shorts
from the Czech Republic, USA, Brazil, UK & Spain. The 3rd short in this program is one of my favorites this year, “Leave To Remain”
For the 2nd program of the day, Asia International & Japan Program 4, we had 2 sets of guests come out for the post-screening Q&A.
1st up was for the Japan film “I Am Less Than Zero.” Director Bunji Sotoyama was accompanied by his producer, Takenori Utsui & his cast, 12-yr-old & lead actor Reiya Ueno, Natsue Hyakumoto & Akira Mitsunaga. This story of a young boy living with his Grandmother who eventually becomes infected with Covid was written by the director who wanted to spotlight how Covid is affecting young kids here in Japan.
Our 2nd set of guests were here to represent the film “Boy, Sprouted.” Director Yuko Watanabe was accompanied by IT company, Ales Corporation President Ryutaro Fujii & Hiroki Tawada also of Ales. Now the mind-boggling point of this short film is that Ales has made an AI system that creates film scripts! By inputting certain parameters, the AI produces a script that is then fine-tuned by a real person. In this case, 93% of the script was AI produced & 7% was fine-tuned by human intelligence. The key point for us was that director Watanabe saw no difference in the script from a “human” generated script. The story about a boy who just won’t eat tomatoes even has elements of horror but is finally a wonderful story of mother & child relationships. What is this world coming too?!
Next up was International – 4 and we hooked up with director Jan Verdijk in Amsterdam to talk about his Covid themed short titled “Shielded.” An intense film about how 2 young sisters who battle an unknown “visitor” who tries to gain entrance into their house where they alone have survived Covid. The two young actors, Femke de Booys & Nola Kemper are just amazing & Jan went through a lengthy audition process to find the 2 perfect actors to plat the parts. Jan was fortunate to receive funding from the Netherland Film Fund, especially in this day & age.
The next program was Animation – 2, one of my favorites with high quality action shorts to a totally bonkers anime from Germany titled “RIM” that’s retro/edgy/cool.
The final program of the day was Asia International & Japan, Program 5.
We had 2 sets of guests for the post-screening Q&A.
1st up for the film “Soon-To-Be A Zombie” was director & festival regular Yūki Saito. He brought his 2 lead actors, Isa Minami & Kōtaro Yashiba. Isa plays pop idol Remi who’s the least popular idol in her group & is bullied & pressured by the oily manager well-played by Kōtaro. Director Yūki, who’s been a regular at our festival with many shorts winning awards & is now a hot director of features, told us he wanted to make a film that’s not a “commercial” film but one that he could have fun making quirky-cool film, hence the “zombie idol.” He was able to enlist a real pop idol group to play behind the Remi Character & use the actual event space that’s the home base for the group. A fun, J-poppy, cool “zombie pop idol” short film.
2nd up was director Junki Tachibana & his outstanding young cast, Sena Nishitani & the outstanding Taro Nakatani who plays the lead Shinji & is one of my nominees for Best Actor. Director Junki, who also wrote the script, told us he wanted to make a film about memory & connections. Taro was great as Shinji, who’s waiting for the release of his brother from prison after serving time for murder. Emotional, intense & recommended.
A great day 2nd day here at Omotesando Hills. So great to see big pre-Covid level turnouts & with, as usual, very interesting Q&A’s.
Back here again tomorrow for our final day of screening here before we move to Itscom Hall in the suburbian Tokyo city of Futako Tamagawa. See you there.