SSFF & Asia 2023, the 25th Edition. Day 3 at Space O in the Omotesando Hills shopping & dining complex right next to Harajuku saw packed crowds for a full day of screenings.
We started the day with the Asia International & Japan Program 9. This program had shorts from Pakistan, S. Korea, & Japan.
1st up was Min-zun Son, director of the film “Cut.” Love this film. It’s a story set on a film shoot where the director’s trying to make a slasher/horror film but the film plays with your head with the action continuing into what is seemingly a break in the shoot. There’s a double-triple fake out that’s very well done & the director thanked his outstanding crew & cast for hanging in there on a tough 2 days shoot.
Non-Fiction Program 3 had 2 sets of guests. For “The Heart of an Astronaut,” we were very pleased to have as our guest the subject of the documentary Brigitte Godard who is a flight surgeon who monitored the heart conditions of the astronauts on the international space station. Brigitte told us that the director Jennifer Rainsford shot her scenes in 3-4 days & Brigitte was a “natural” in the way she completely shut out the intrusive presence of a camera & carried on with her work. Brigitte’s possible headed to India next to help with their burgeoning space program.
“Women in Architecture” director Boris Noir & producer Andrea Zuercher came out for the labor of love about 3 top architects & how these women balance family & work as they lead the field with their practical yet aesthetically beautiful buildings around the world. The project took Boris & Andrea to 3 locations Europe & the U.S. They were very grateful to the 3 “subjects” of the documentary, Toshiko Mori, Gabriela Carrillo & Johanna Meyer-Grohbrügge who welcomed them into their homes, lives & work. All brilliant!
Philippe Kastner joined us via zoom from Prague for his animated film Dede Is Dead in Animation Program-3. This was his 2nd year project for FAMU where he’s studying animation. He based the story on a “true story” about his beloved pet dog “Dede” & how making the film helped him cope with the sorrow he felt at Dede’s passing.
You all need to see “Hidari,” the final animated short in this program. It’s an AOI/TYO production in creative partnership with our festival. “Hidari” is an amazing wood-puppet, stop-motion animation, historical-fiction-action short that’s visually stunning & inventive. This 5:32 anime leaves you wanting for more & good news is that the ending is such that it leaves no room for doubt that there’s going to be more. And director Masashi Kawamura confirmed that this is a pilot for a possible series or feature. Can’t wait!
The day closed with Asia International & Japan Program 10 & the last screening was for International Program 7.
AI&J – 10 had 3 sets of guests. 1st up was director Keitaro Fujimori who brought 2 workshop students for the film “Shagiri.” The workshop is set-up & supported by “Mirrorliar Films” & “and pictures” to find, support & produce directors & filmmakers through short films. This film was shot in the city of Mishima situated in the foothills of Mt. Fuji & the local film workshop students worked the production under the supervision of director Fujimori. They had the complete cooperation of the city & the key “matsuri” festival scene is shot beautifully.
We were very happy to have director Manuel Ormonte come out from Spain to join the festival & talk about his film “Beyond Teruel.” This quiet story about a local shepherd who befriends & hitches a ride with a photographer is sublime in its revelation of a dry, desolate landscape both on geography & in populace. He cast the “actor” to play Jesus from among the locals after he was struck by his noble face & told us that his lead was nervous at first but gradually warmed to the camera & did a great job. Great ending – is he really going to Colombia?!!
You can check out these Q&A’s for more detailed talks on our Youtube channel.
Final day of screenings AND the final day of the festival tomorrow!