Sunday, November 14, 2010

(Kyoto Story) The Renaissance Of Film - Richard

It's official, the JFF Blog is a big hit! With over 1,000 views in just under a month, we are glad to provide some exciting content for you all to read over. Thank you for your passion of all things Japanese! Today we have our first entry from Richard Gray, editor of DVD Bits, who takes a look at the Tsutomu Abe & Yoji Yamada directed "Kyoto Story".

Kyoto Story will screen as part of our Special Double Screening session that takes place on Tuesday November 23rd at Event Cinemas on George St. This will include the feature film, plus an award winning short film "Wish You Were Here" and Panel Discussion with Tsutomu Abe (Happy Family Plan), Tadao Sato (Japan's leading film critic) and Shigeki Chiba (Vice Principal of JAMI).

A note to film students and lecturers, FREE tickets to this session are still available, with details about how you can get them here, thanks to Metro Screen.

"Uzumasa Daiei was one of the most famous shopping arcades in Kyoto, housing the now defunct Daiei Studios, producers of such films as Rashomon with Akira Kurosawa and the monster-mashes of Gamera. Now it forms the focal point of an experiment, combining the efforts of some up and coming filmmakers with some veterans in the field. Working with Ritsumeikan University's College of Image Arts and Sciences and Shochiku Co., Ltd., one of the worlds oldest film studios,  directors Yoji Yamada (About Her Brother, the opening night film of this year's Japanese Film Festival) and  his protege Tsutomu Abe (Happy Family Plan, 13th JFF) have guided this simple love story into cinemas across the world.

Using a combination of real conversations with local residents and a screenplay by Yoji Yamada ("Love and Honour" - 12th JFF), Kyoto Story weaves a beautifully simplistic tale of love in a small town. Kyoko (Hana Ebise) is a librarian (yay!) who is fairly settled with the idea that she will live in her small town with her laundromat owning parents until her dying days. However, she soon finds that her affections are torn between boyfriend and aspiring stand-up comedian (USA (EXILE)) and a bumbling visiting academic from Tokyo (Sotaro Tanaka - "About Her Brother") who has fallen head over heels in love with Kyoko. She must decide which path she will follow, and where her heart lies.

The title Kyoto Story naturally brings to mind the work of Yasujiro Ozu (Tokyo Story). In many of his films, Ozu explored the disintegration of traditional family life in post-war Japan. However, in the wake of the economic downturn of the 1990s, many Japanese filmmakers (including Tsutomu Abe) returned to reflect upon the importance of the family unit and the comforting joys it brings (as he so aptly did in Happy Family Plan).

So too is the case with Kyoto Story, a film that gently takes us through the lives of two families and reminds us all that there is no place like home. Kyoko's decision about deciding whether to leave the flock is reminiscent of Ozu's "Late Spring", where everybody seemed to have an idea of what was best for its lead character Noriko. Kyoko's ultimate decision shows that the men around her are far more dependent on her than she will ever be on them.

There is little about Kyoto Story that jumps out and screams at you of its brilliance, but it really isn't a jumpy-out-screamy kind of film. It is a sweet story that is as much a nostalgic love-letter to a bygone era as it is about the love triangle at the heart of the film. It is a rare thing that a film captures the slow vibe of a place yet simultaneously manages to be entertaining and charming all in one neat bundle. Kyoto Story is that bundle, a joyous one at that.

Kyoto Story is screening at the 14th Annual Japanese Film Festival with Eriko Onishi's "Wish You Were Here". Check out the website for further details." - Richard Gray, DVD Bits

Thanks again to Richard for that piece on the interesting production that was Kyoto Story. Does anybody else know of Student / Industry crewed films? Matt Newton's "Three Blind Mice" had a large contingent of Sydney Film School students amongst its crew, and Participate Film Academy has produced the likes of "Sweet Marshall", but it seems to be a very rare thing.

It must have been a wonderful opportunity for the students to work with the likes of Abe and Yamada, make sure you ask Abe-san about it during the Panel Discussion!

See you at the festival!

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