So here we are again. This year’s 24th edition kicked off at a first-time venue for us at Eurospace theater complex in Shibuya. We’re here for 1 day only but it’s always cool to hang at a new venue. We’ll move to our “2nd home” in Space O at Omotesando Hills starting tomorrow Friday, June 10th thru Sunday June 12th.
We started the day with the International Program 1. This program included shorts
from Ireland, Lebanon & France & other countries. Out of over 5,000 submitted short films, we’re showing roughly 200 selected shorts online & at the venues.
From this program, “Wednesday” from Estonia is one that I put into my personal Top 5 Best Shorts. It’s a tender story about loss & a good example of short filmmaking with 1 absolutely beautiful seaside location & 2 characters. It didn’t hurt that the director had the good taste to use The Talking Heads version of Al Green’s 1974 classic, “Take Me to the River.” The scene is sublime.
Our 2nd program of the day, Asia International & Japan Program 1 featured shorts from Taiwan, the Philippines & Japan.
We had 3 sets of guests for the post-screening Q&A.
Director Kensuke Ashihara brought along his 2 lead actors, Takao Kanno & Ayano Kojima for his very eerie but cool & highly original “horror” story “Manibus Seeds.”
When asked about a hand actor (spoiler alert!) for the “minibus hand,” director Ashihara told us he got a actor from the same actor’s group he was in & when he asked, she happily agreed to participate. All the “special effects” were done analog & the film was shot in 2 days. Very cool-eerie short film!
Next up was director Minami Goto for her short film “Spider.” She was accompanied by her Art Director Megumi Sasaki & editor Hideyuki Kawatani. I asked her why she wanted to make a period piece of sword fighting action & she told the audience that the film was part of a project sponsored by the city of Kyoto & Toei Kyoto Studios where young filmmakers were allowed access to make a film with complete support from the studio including sets, costumes & equipment. Good project!
The final Q&A guests were the team from WOWOW, a major satellite broadcasting station, the sponsors for “Actor’s Short Film,” a series of films that give young actors a shot at directing. Producers Shuichi Komuro Yoshiaki Iba came on stage to talk about “Story.” A very unique & original story that reflects the slowly deteriorating human ability to communicate in this age of the internet & SNS. When asked about this short they pointed out the collaboration between the 23-yr-old actress Tina Tamashiro & the 82-yr-old veteran DP Yutaka Yamazaki. The producers explained that Tina had a clear vision for her self-penned script & their project allows for a strict 2-day shoot & the chosen actor must also make an appearance in the film. Well done, Tina!
We closed our 1st day of screenings with the Non-Fiction Program – 1. This program includes short docs from Australia, India, Canada & Spain. The “Barefoot Empress” from India won the Biogen Award at the Opening Ceremony held this Tuesday & is an absolutely inspirational story about a 96-yr-old who returns to school & earns
top-of-her class marks!
A great start to the festival with good turnouts & fun Q&A’s.
See you next time.