Sayonara Nihon

10 days as past and my virgin trip to the land of the rising sun was much more than just an eye opener. Autumn was the season of choice with its cool breeze and sometime chilly morning, it was a 180 degree situation from what we have in Singapore. From hot meal vending machines to timely train schedules, I was pretty much impress by what i experienced in Japan. As so was by the whole film festival. This being the 2nd major film festival attended to date, Tokyo seems to top it off with its professional coverage and detailed attention to all corners of the festival. Everyone was attended to and the flow of such event went on so smoothly, it looked effortless. Kudos to the management and organizer of the Tokyo Film Festival, you have definitely won me over. Japan has won me over and i will be back. In fact, I'm missing it already.

To all who have been following me through the duration of the festival online in this blog, a big thank you for logging on and i hope you've enjoyed the coverage plus snippets of Japan itself. You may be wondering where else will we be next year? Well stay tuned to as we surf you around the world of film. May it be reviews, press conferences or news bites, is the number one choice to keep you updated.

For now, this is Lokman signing off.


Winners showcase

Want to know how the winners felt after the awards? Lets find out!

Director Sergey Dvortsevoy (“TULPAN”)

I was born in Kazakhstan. After I finished aviation school, I worked as a radio operator. One day I came across an ad for a film school where I met many Kazakh actors. Leading actor Askhat Kuchinchirekov is not a professional actor. Leading actress Samal Yeslyamova is a professional stage actress. I will probably shoot my next film in Moscow, but later, I plan to return to Kazakhstan to make movies about Russians living in Kazakhstan. Many children appeared in “TULPAN”, but I am very sorry for the death of one of the boys who drowned while fishing with his father.

Samal Yeslyamova (“TULPAN”)

I’m from Kazakhstan but have never lived in a place where this movie takes place. The environment and climate of the location site was very different from where I grew up so it wasn’t easy, but it certainly was a valuable experience.

Askhat Kuchinchirekov (“TULPAN”)

The most important thing for an actor is to confide in the director; a trust so deep and strong that he can trust his life with him. I did everything the director wanted me to do, which I believe I was able to express on screen.

Director Testu Maeda (“School Days with a Pig”)

Maeda won two awards in the Competition section, but he said, “I was actually going for four awards, just like the film “What the Snow Brings”, in the 18th TIFF (laugh). I guess I have a long way to go...” When asked about the pig in his film, he said, “Birds are easy to take care of, but not pigs! But the small pigs were so charming, they felt like a being of life itself. Although I know they are destined to be slaughtered, I think they are very adorable.”

Director José Antonio Quirós (“Ashes from the Sky”)

It’s a contradiction that although we love nature, we can’t live without technology. Nature is being sacrificed in the name of civilization and it’s time for us to think about how we’re going to change this. It is vital that we look for a compromise. That is the theme of my movie.

Jon Voight, President of the Jury

Each of us contributed to the decision of the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix Award. Something was said early on in our discussions. We said it’s not about giving everybody an award; it’s about being true to what we really think is appropriate for the ‘real’ award. “TULPAN” was a unanimous decision. And that really says a lot because we had other films that we
were really impressed with. But there was something so special about this film. Then, when we came to the idea of the director, we said, well, the director we feel is the most impressive should be “TULPAN”. So, that’s how we arrived at our decision. It was a matter of being honest about it.

TIFF Closing Ceremony

It was a beautiful evening at the Bunkamura Orchard Hall. Although heavy clouds threatened with a little rain drops, that, didn't hold the grand event up as they always say, "The show must go on". Fortunately, little rain drops was all it was. Keeping up with the ecology theme of the green carpet, a sea of green was laid upon the ground as the guest stride upon to grace the event. After an exciting nine day event of non stop film screenings, press conferences and guest appearance, the 21st Tokyo International Film Festival closes its curtain today with a bang as they rolled out the winners of the competition. Opening the event was Chairman of Tokyo International Film Festival, Tatsumi Yoda, who commented:

"I’d like to say how honored I am to speak in front of all these people whom I respect highly. The 21st Tokyo International Film Festival which began on the Green Carpet on Saturday, October 18th has flown by and we are already at the Closing Ceremony. As you know, the theme of this event was ecology and environment. Protecting the environment is something we must do seriously. We hope to continue to use the Green Carpet as a message to the world to protect our environment. Tomorrow, we will start working toward the 22nd Tokyo International Film Festival. My plan is to continue with the theme of ecology by making a “Green Carpet Club”. I hope you will all join us next year. Thank you and ‘Action! for Earth’!!"

Also present was actor and President of the Jury, Mr. Jon Voight commented:

"It was an honor to go through with the judging with such great masters of the film industry. The films made me rethink about the love of people and I was deeply touched. Art is all about love. The Sakura Grand Prix Award was chosen unanimously. We all considered this film to be surpassing all artistic achievement. We the jurors live in highly complicated and sophisticated worlds, but in this story, this struggling nomad family made us discover our hearts and our identities. I’d like to extend my deepest respect to all the films screened here at the Tokyo International Film Festival."

Without further ado, here are the winners:

Akira Kurosawa Award
  • Nikita Sergeyevich Mikhalkov (director)
  • Chen Kaige (director)
Japanese Eyes
  • Special Award: Ittoku Kishibe (actor, “Osaka Hamlet”)
  • Best Picture Award: “buy a suit” (directed by Jun Ichikawa)
Winds of Asia-Middle East
  • Best Asian-Middle Eastern Film Award: “My Marlon and Brando” (directed by Huseyin Karabey)
  • Special Mention: “The Sun Also Rises” (directed by Jiang Wen), “The Way We Are” (directed by Ann Hui),
  • “The Convert” (directed by Yasmin Ahmad)
TOYOTA Earth Grand Prix
  • Special Award: “THE MEERKATS” (directed by James Honeyborne)
  • Jury Award: “School Days with a Pig” (directed by Tetsu Maeda)
  • TOYOTA Earth Grand Prix: “Ashes from the Sky” (directed by José Antonio Quirós)
  • The Audience Award: “School Days with a Pig” (directed by Tetsu Maeda)
  • Award for Best Artistic Contribution: “With a Little Help From Myself”
  • Award for Best Actor: Vincent Cassel (“Public Enemy No. 1 (Part 1 & 2)”)
  • Award for Best Actress: Felicite Wouassi (“With a Little Help From Myself”)
  • Award for Best Director: Sergey Dvortsevoy (“TULPAN”)
  • Special Jury Prize: “4 Nights with Anna” (directed by Jerzy Skolimowski)
  • Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix: “TULPAN” (directed by Sergey Dvortsevoy)

Congratulations to all!

Off to Mt Fuji

All work and no play makes us guys really bored. And so for the next 2 days, we're heading up to Kawaguchiko, also known as the Mt Fuji area, for a little break. Don't worry, we'll be back with the closing event of the Tokyo International Film Festival. I'm pretty sure a little travel update would be a good reading break for you guys.

Claustrophobia - Press Conference

2pm. Movie Cafe.
Film: Claustrophobia
Story: A love story about an office love affair in a mellow atmosphere. Directorial debut by a well-known script writer of {Comrades, Almost a Love Story} (1996). Sophisticated images leave lasting impressions.
Present: Ivy Ho (Director), Karena Lam (Cast), Ekin Cheng (Cast)

[ View the whole press conference above. ]

Top of the world

Wanna feel top of the world in Japan? Besides climbing Mt Fuji of cos, THAT story will come later, Roponggi also boast an impressive sky deck for visitors to view a spectacular sight of Tokyo. Check out the video above to see what i mean.

Visiting a fish market

Visit a fish market you say? Why should i, you may ask. Why to see the freshest fish caught at sea and see fishermen battle it out to auctioning them out. And the real man reason? The freshest sushi ever. Several eatery have pop up near the market and has been a hit with tourist AND the Japanese where you get Sashimi that literally melts in your mouth. Do not miss it if you're ever at the area!

The infamous road crossing

You've seen the scenes in movies especially in the movie "Lost in Translation", of the busy street of Tokyo and that particular road crossing that converge from 6 different corners. Well we're happy to report that, yes its curiously as busy as its portrayed on screen, EVERY TIME.

Update! Part 2!

Video of our Green carpet is up! View them at:

ALSO, a small clip of the prequel of this grand event has been uploaded into the TIFF Video Player. So click on the button below the video panel on the right.


Film reviews - By

Want to have a taste of TIFF?

Catch the movies below that were in the selection of the Tokyo International Film Festival, on screen or on DVD sold in Singapore!

Special Screenings

Winds of Asia-Middle East
Natural TIFF

Ocean - Press Conference

110pm. Movie Cafe.
Film: Ocean
Story: A story of a heartbroken youngster who leaves home for Havana. Clear blue sea, sensual Cuban music, passionate relationship of parent and child. Feel the Latin beat from this sweet and bitter adolescent film.
Present: Mikhail Kosyrev-Nesterov (director)

Why did you choose Cuba? Also, the ocean scenes being very dynamic, please tell us if there were any behind-the-scene stories.
Mikhail Kosyrev-Nesterov (MKN): I am the producer and director of this film and we had police back up while shooting in Cuba. Fortunately we were able to finish our shooting sound and safe. As for why I chose to shoot in Cuba can be answered when we look at the people and family relationship among the Russians. It isn’t what it used to be but is still well and alive in Cuba. If I had set the movie in Russia, this film probably would’ve been quite gloomy. I was
shooting a documentary in India right before “Ocean”, but India didn’t seem right for this movie either.

I understand you used a portable camera to film this movie. What effect did you have in mind? Also, the sound of the waves in the countryside seemed quite loud. Was this intentional?
MKN: I wanted to capture the characters and their emotions in the most vivid way, which gave me the idea of using a portable camera. For the same reason, I didn’t set the camera blocks beforehand. It was natural that the sound of the waves would be loud since we were shooting right by the sea. The sounds were not edited. There was also the problem of language and words. The scenes with uproars had a script but the actors felt comfortable improvising those scenes. The Spanish that the actors use is full of Cuban slang, making it almost impossible to do a voice over.

Was your staff Cubans, too?
MKN: It was a joint production between Russia and Cuba. The Cuban executive producer was a very large man and I was almost afraid of being killed by him! But he did a great job with the movie!

Both Russia and Cuba once being socialist nations, do you feel there is a strong bond between the two countries in terms of filmmaking?
MKN: There were strong ties between us during the Soviet Union era., but Cuba and Russia hadn’t made a film together for the past 25 years. The Soviet Union is deeply responsible for what they did to Cuba. In Cuba, a single document or contract needs signature after signature of government officials for it to be intact. When I complained about this, I was told that this was the bureaucratism we forced upon Cuba.

Please tell us a little about what you plan to make next. Do you have any constraints on shooting in or out of the country?
MKN: I have no plans yet. As you are all aware, we are facing a very serious economical crisis which has caused about 180 films to cease production for the time being. I feel lucky that I was able to finish this film before this all happened.

Are you interested in cultivating young Russian actors and directors?
MKN: Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin, a famous Russian poet said that “the emotions make poetry”. Art is not having two sides compelling eachother, rather it is creating love and compassion. My hope is to see young filmmakers understand this integrity.

Imperial Palace Tour

In our busy schedule of movie reviewing and attending press conference, we still managed to squeeze in a little R&R in town.

Super Typhoon - Press Conference

510pm. Movie Cafe.
Film: With a Little Help From Myself
Story: A “Super Typhoon” is spawned off the coast of China. A spectacular film portraying a mayor who unyieldingly enforces the state of alert, as well as various human events that are tossed about by the typhoon.
Present: Feng Xiaoning (director), Song Xiaoying (actress), Liu Xiaowei (actress)

How did the Chinese film industry react to this film? Also, has there ever been a movie about natural disaster made at the scale you did?
Feng Xiaoning (FX): This film will be screened in China on the 24th this month, so the Japanese audience will see it first! There has never been a natural disaster movie created at the scale “Super Typhoon” has been made, and so I can feel that the Chinese people are looking forward to this movie. For the past few years, China has suffered catastrophic earthquakes and Japan is also a country of earthquakes and typhoons. I hope this movie will get people to think about how to face such disasters when they actually happen. Under such circumstances, what counts the most are human lives, and every life should be protected by the people and government joining hands. I’d like the people of the world to realize that the many natural disasters are a result of mankind’s selfish actions. To be loved by the world, we must first learn to love the world.

How was it being a part of “Super Typhoon”?
Liu Xiaowei (LX): It wasn’t easy! It snowed heavily last winter in China and many parts of the country were damaged by this. This was right when we were shooting this film and I recall Mr. Xiaoning telling us that he will do everything he has to do to shoot this movie. In my case, many of my scenes were solos, which made it harder under such weather conditions. After several retakes, Mr. Xiaoning looked as if he was about to start a storm himself! I used to work as a
nurse, and that’s how I got through the scene... luckily before his storm landed on us!
Song Xiaoying (SX): For an actor, every role has its own characteristic. Professions such as teachers and doctors are easy to come across, but when it comes to meteorologists, we hardly have a chance to meet them. But, in the end, what matters is not what the cast thinks about the movie, but what the audience feels. In the movie, there is an actual typhoon called “Shirayuri”, which landed in both Japan and China in 1993. Being here in Japan with “Super Typhoon”
feels almost as if I was meant to come!

Do you feel the world is now facing a serious crisis caused by global warming?
FX: Global warming is a serious problem which every person on earth must think about. In the movie, a level 18 typhoon hits us, and we know that typhoons are caused by the rising temperature of the ocean. Every economy flourishes by paying the price of pollution and destruction, which China is undergoing right now. I have been appointed ambassador
of protecting the natural environment and I hope this movie will direct the serious global issues to the public. I have also suggested that we start a “No-Car Day” every week, which is now gaining support among the people in Beijing. My wife is also more careful about not using more water than necessary. She has started using left over bath water to flush the toilet or to do the laundry.
SX: I feel a bit guilty after hearing Mr. Xiaonong’s words... I’ll try to improve on not spending too much.
LX: I first worked with Mr. Xiaoning in 2001. We were on location in Mongolia, a place where there once was grass as tall as my height, but now barely covering the surface of the earth. It was desertification right there in front of me.
FX: 20 years ago, I made a movie that addressed environmental issues. I’ve been concerned about global warming and contamination since then. I will continue to put forth these issues and the importance of living in harmony with nature.

International Competition Juries - Press Conference

345pm. Movie Cafe.
Event: International Competition Jurie
Present: Jon Voight (President of Jury), Michael Gruskoff, Huo Jianqi, Cesar Charlone,
Fumi Dan, Koji Takada


Jon Voight: It is a very extraordinary group of people that we have summoned for the jury and we are all very happy with each other and to be here in Tokyo for the International Film Festival. Also, we’ve been very warmly taken care of by the staff here.
When you make a film, an assembled family gets together—talented people—and they give you their most intimate feelings and their most personal thoughts. It is an honor to see this work. And then we have the difficulty of making decisions about awards. It’s a difficult job but it’s a great responsibility and we are all enjoying the process.

Cesar Charlone: It’s my first time in Japan and I’m very happy to be here. Also I’m very grateful that TIFF invited me and happy that we have such a good selection of films, which I’ve been having a good time watching.

Fumi Dan: It is a great honor to among such great filmmakers. In the beginning when I realized that I am actually with them, I felt quite small being among them. But they have welcomed me with such an open heart and we are truly one family here, with of course, one of the greatest boss that you can imagine, Mr. Voight! Now, we have spent time watching the films, but we haven’t talked to each other about what we feel about he films yet. I really look forward to that day when we have an open discussion about each film.

Michael Gruskoff: I feel great being here and I love watching movies! It is also a great pleasure to be a jury. I’ve been looking forward to TIFF ever since I came to Kyoto this August for the film festival, and I plan to enjoy myself for the next week.

Huo Jianqi: I have been to Tokyo countless times and I have a very deep relation with Tokyo in the sense that one of my films has been screened at TIFF in the Competition section. I have become friends with many filmmakers in Japan as well as with the Japanese people. It is my big honor to a wonderful feeling to be among such great members of the jury.

Koji Takada: As a representative of one of the filmmakers, I must say that all these years making films, whenever I had that chance to critique a film, I’ve always felt bad. But after making films for fifty years, I feel that maybe I ‘m ready to jump over to the other side to provide my judgment about films with other great judges. So far, we haven’t discussed any of the films yet, we’ve just gathered to listen to Mr. Voight’s humorous stories! But I look forward to the day we let all our thoughts and feelings about the films we watched.

How do you plan to go about with the judging process?
Voight: It’s going to be a very interesting dialogue. I don’t think it’s going to be about convincing each other, but a matter of us sharing our enthusiasm about different aspects of the film. We will come to a consensus that will be very specific.

What are your criteria for judging a movie?
Charlone: I want to see a film as an audience not as a filmmaker. I want the emotions to touch my heart.
Dan: When I see a movie, I’d like to think, “Boy! I wish I had that role!”
Gruskoff: The first thing is the story, then how the director interprets the story.
Jiangi: A good movie one that is so special that it grabs my heart and also one that is a stepping stone to my next film.
Takada: Since I’m a scriptwriter, it’s essential that a good film has a good story that brings a lot of emotions and excitement.

Tulpan - Press Conference

130pm. Movie Cafe.
Film: Tulpan
Story: Story of a young man’s desire to get married in order to become an adult. The life of a family in the harsh wildness is depicted with subtle humor. The picturesque beauty of the landscape is overwhelming.
Present: Sergey Dvortsevoy (Director), Askhat Kuchinchirekov (Cast), Samal Ylyamova (Cast)

What is your impression of Japan?
Sergey Dvortsevoy (SD): I came to Japan eight years ago for the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival. It’s hard to believe that I’m in the same country as then since Tokyo is such a large city. As a movie director and an artist, it is vital to visit other countries and touch upon their culture in order to compare it to my own country.
Samal Yeslyamova (SY): Tokyo feels like a special city like no other in the world. I feel the people’s love for their country.
Askhat Kuchinchirekov (AK): I first became interested in Japan after watching Kurosawa’s “Rashomon”. I especially like Japanese literature by writers such as Kobo Abe, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, and Haruki Murakami, all of whom I are just as great as Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, and Tolstoy. I’m also interested in Japanese women!

I heard it took four years to complete this movie. Why did it take so long?
SD: Yes, it took four years from the planning stage. Six weeks before shooting started, I asked the cast to experience a nomadic life. As shooting progressed, we ended up changing about 80 percent of the scenes. There was a lot of discussion among us when dealing with sensitive scenes such as the suicide one.

How was nomadic life?
SY: I was born and raised in the city and so up until then, I hadn’t known what countryside life was all about. Living out of a tent wasn’t an easy life, but in the end, I think it was one of the most interesting experiences in my life.

Mr. Kuchinchirekov, I understand that you are a singer—how did you feel agreeing to film this movie under harsh conditions?
AK: There’s a proverb that goes “One is given three turning points in life”. This movie was definitely one of the turning points in my life and life itself. I feel a much richer and larger person after having taken part in this movie.

Is there any special reason why you used the scene where the sheep is giving birth at the climax?
SD: That scene was just another scene in the original script, but since it turned out to be such a powerful and beautiful scene, we decided to bring it in the end.

What were the reasons for selecting Samal Yeslyamov and Askhat Kuchinchirekov?
SD: Rather than a professional, I was looking for actors who approached this movie with an open mind and someone with individuality. I walked all around Kazakhstan with a small camera in hand and met over one thousand candidates before I met them.

This movie is a joint-production among five countries but the movie itself is Kazakh and Russian. How do the other countries come in?
SD: The producer is German, the Director of Photography is Polish, and the sound effects were created by a Swiss team.

What are the reasons for using Boney M’s music?
SD: Boney M is quite popular in Kazakhstan and Russia, plus their music fits in well with the movie. But of course it’s because I like them!


Video of our 1st day whirl tour around Tokyo is up! View them at:

ALSO, A small taste of Tokyo Press conference of the film, "THE CODE". You can view a video clip & slide show of the press conference here at:


With a Little Help From Myself - Press Conference

545pm. Movie Cafe.
Film: With a Little Help From Myself
Story: Sonia is pretty and black. She is married with four children and works as a home-care aide in her housing projects. The day of her daughter’s wedding, the sky come crashing down on her head. Robert, her 80-year-old neighbor, is the only person she can turn to. Whiter than him is hard to find. More helpful either. But in life, nothing is free. Except chance, if you know how to make the most of it.
Present: Félicité Wouassi (actress)

What is your impression of Japan?
I still haven’t had the chance to see much except for the TIFF venues, but I can say that the theaters are wonderful. Actually, my brother is married to a Japanese woman and they live in Kyoto. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to visit them this time, but the flight to Japan from Cameroon wasn’t as long as I thought so I’d love to come back again.

How did you meet François Dupeyron and be casted in this film?
Director Dupeyron saw a play I was in, which was Roman Polansky’s “Doute” and asked me if I was interested in being a part of a movie he was planning to film. He gave me the script that night and I read it laughed all night until 2am! I called Dupeyron and asked if some parts wouldn’t be racially biased, and if he planned to shoot the movie with this script. When he said he would, I agreed right then to accept his offer.

You had a very attractive role in this film. Did you feel that it was written with you in mind?
I don’t know if it was written for me or not, but it was a great pleasure acting Sonia. I really felt she was a part of me. Dupeyron is one of my favorite directors and Yves Angelo’s camerawork is amazing. It was as if the camera was an independent role, as if an actor just like the one of us! That’s probably why it didn’t feel as if we were shooting a film. Sonia is not a complicated person, so I kept my acting simple. I wanted every mother watching this movie to be able to relate to Sonia. Initially, she was portrayed as a kind and gentle woman, but I told Dupeyron that her kindness felt fake and not humanlike. When a person is placed in the position to protect his or her children or standing, even a woman could be violent. The scene where a man is pulled out of a dryer expresses just this.

The movie takes place in the outskirts of Paris, but the imagery was far from what we visualize of France and Paris...
Have you seen Mathieu Kassovitz’s film, “HAINE”? The outskirts of Paris have long been home to the working class. Companies such as Renault built factories in these areas, constructed apartments and created employment for the immigrants of Paris. With the passing of time, this area became a closed and secluded community. The factories are now gone but the descendants of the immigrants have remained, creating a neighborhood just like the one portrayed
in this film. Yet, as Dupeyron said, this is not a movie about working class district in Paris; rather, it is about an average family living in this area. He was shocked by the reality that many elderly Caucasians neglected by their family and society live here. And that the only people who take care of them are the young immigrants from Northern Africa. This movie is about two strangers like Sonia and Robert meeting and learning to understand each other.

You have a different aura from Sonia...
I spent 6 months being Sonia. So on the last day, I shaved my hair off as a farewell to Sonia. It will grow back soon! But a shaved head feels smooth and nice!

Super Typhoon - Review

Director: Feng Xiaoning

Cast: Wu Gang, Song Xiaoying, Liu Xiaowei

Review: You've seen all the laden special effect film that just satisfy the hunger of something explosive or a climatic apocalyptic event that stirs chaos to the world. Well from the top of my head, in Hollywood terms, movies like, The Day After Tomorrow, Armageddon, Dante's Peak or even those TV series straight to DVD type to film are always a crowd pleaser hence it's only natural for the asian counterpart to pick up on this money churner.Director Feng Xiaoning's new movie 'Super Typhoon' is now showing across China. The movie aims to attract the public's attention to the urgent matter of environmental protection. For the past 20 years, Feng Xiaoning has been promoting 'green' awareness with his film work and his own exemplary environmental behavior. He is acclaimed the 'Green Director of China'.
Pretty much a no holds, leave your brains outside kind of film. Just sit back and enjoy the carnage. They've got all the formulas needed, The Mayor, a hero with heart of gold, helpless civilians, a protagonist determined to get back to his wife who is giving birth, fishermen who are willing to save their boats with their lives, long lost teachers and even tops it off, playing homage to hollywood disaster flicks, a dog who survives at the end. Look out Hollywood, China is slowly catching up on you.

Shonen Merikensack - Press Conference

1220pm. Tower Hall.
Film: Shonen Merikensack
Story: A record company employee discovers a punk rock band called "Shonen Merikensack" and is assigned the task of signing them even though she's not particularly adept at her job and doesn't enjoy punk music.
Present: Kankuro Kudo(Director),Aoi Miyazaki(Cast), Yuichi Kimura(Cast), Tomorowo Taguchi(Cast), Koichi Sato(Cast)

Being in TV and film now, which is harder?
Even when the roles are different, what makes it easier is the fact that the make-up, costume and set plays a major role to how to differentiate my TV and film profile.

Being surrounded by a cast of all male and middle aged men, how were they treating you?
Oh they were kind to me. Very much a cosy cast with natural bonding. Even in silence, there isn't an awkward treatment at all. Thats how comfortable we are with each other.

Kudo (Director), you look too young to be involve to be in punk rock. Are you into this genre?
Young? I'm actually 38! And yes, i am into the genre. Punk was introduced to japan when i was in middle school and made me wonder, what if being a 25 year old punk guy grow up to be when they get older? Will they fit in the society? Will something positive come out of it? That are the questions i want to be faced in the film.

You having been directing several TV shows and stage, is film harder for you?
Its hard to say, Definitely, with film, I have to watch what i say. Of cos, there is alot of involvement in the film process but the satisfaction is definitely worth it. You get to have a feeling of attachment to the work and that is a special feeling, especially when u show it to an audience.

Echo of Silence - Press Conference

1045am. Movie Cafe.
Film: Echo of Silence
Story: A story of a woman who lost memory of her love, and a speechless man.
Present: Atsuro Watabe (Director), Saki Takaoka (Cast)

When the film was completed?
I had the idea 5 years ago and was made in 3 weeks. The project was smooth sailing but was problematic in editing.

As a 1st time director, when and how did you (director) get/ask Saki Takaoka on board? What was her attraction?
I had known her for long time. We were in a film together when she was 18. She was flexible and diverse in acting. She has a good vibe in working condition. So it was natural in my choice of selection.

Even though the film has no strong story, was there a msg behind it?
I didn't want to and wanted a great sense of feeling from my actors. As for hidden msges, non so far as i wanted to leave interpretation to the audience and let them think.

Which was harder? Directing or acting? (he does both)
I didn't compare as such. Just did a normal day to day work, going on instinct.

Why did you decide to direct?
I wasn't really driving on a motivation to be director. It was a natural selection to do so as i came up with the plot.

What was the procedure of the film making? Along the lines of script or gut feeling?
It wasn't a conscious mind set of the film making. It was rather a flexible system where certain scene will determine how it will be shot.

How was it working with the Atsuro Watabe (Director)?
He try his best to give everyone comfort. Even with a 2 weeks time frame, he was relaxed and appreciate the effort. No arrogance, just relax and natural as he is now.

Kill - Review

Director: Mamoru Oshii, Kenta Fukasaku, Takanori Tsujimoto, Minoru Tahara

Yoko Fujita, Rinko Kikuchi, Takuya Mizoguchi
Cast: Yoko Fujita, Rinko Kikuchi, Takuya Mizoguchi

Review: An anthology of 4 short film in coinciding with the killing blade series, each with its own theme of revenge, samurai style. From the Master of Japanimation, Mamoru Oshii, comes a different style of story telling, each with its own unique style and setting. From manga to Edo period styled children story telling, A much anticipated introduction to live story telling sadly had its roller coaster symptom. It started out fairly good. A classic manga styled face off with the enemy with a tragic end. Although very much looked like a tv production, its action sequence were quite impressive. The fav, Second episode is a story of a boy who was taught the way of a samurai. Filmed in the style of An old japanese film, complete with voiceover, square frame and grainy texture, i can't help but think, what a cool way to wrap such a simple story line to find interest in the audience. The 3rd act pretty much went down hill after that with a story of a possessed twin sword that involves 2 soldiers of different era. The final act, most peotic lot, had the potential of a full blown fantasy epic about good and evil, but sadly, it ended quite abruptly leaving a little disappointed.

TIFF - Green Carpet

When: 17 Oct 2008
What: Tokyo International Film Festival
Where: Roppongi Keyakizaka Street

Tony Leung, Julianne Moore, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Yoshino Kimura, Hiroshi Abe, Carina Lau, Teppei Koike and Vicki Zhao are just a few of the names gracing the glamourous event right here, accentuated at the Roppongi Keyakizaka Street in the enchanting dusk of the evening. Straying away from the usual red carpet, green seem to be the in thing nowadays hence The Green Carpet Welcome on the opening day at Roppongi Keyakizaka Street with a hope of conveying the message of “Ecology = Preservation of Earth’s Environment.” and to top it off, the carpet is manufactured from recycled plastic bottles!

The 21st TIFF will hold various events under the theme of this edition, "Ecology", as innovative efforts to become a leading world film festival, in which guests, fans and sponsors will enjoy participating. Action! for Earth, speaks to the dying needs of the earth's environment. We've seen loads of filmmakers addressing the issue, no international film festival has stepped up to stand up for the cause.

So enough of the reading/writing, on with the pictures and videos!

The Code - Press Conference

1150am. Sky Studio.
Film: Shonen Merikensack
Story: For 60 years, the group of detectives known as "Detective Office 5" has raised the bar for detective work. The agents of Detective Office 5 are a group of stellar detectives lead by the genius code breaker Detective 507. When an unknown client enlists 507 to crack his most difficult programming code yet, the detective embarks for Shanghai where he crosses paths with a sniper, an informant, the head of the Blue-Dragon Mafia, and beautiful singer on the run, Meilan. As 507 stumbles deeper into a twisted quagmire of intrigue he discovers the sad truth behind the mystery.
Present: Kaizo Hayashi (Director), KikuNsuke Onoe (Cast), Izumi Inamori (Cast), Joe Shishido (Cast), Hiroki Matsukata (Cast), Shunsuke Matsuoka (Cast), Shiro Sano (Cast), Shihori Kanjiya (Cast)

Media Galore

And to think there were alot of journalist, videoman and photographers in Singapore and Hong Kong (HKIFF), take a look at the sheer number of them below! We were all gathered in a hall for a short briefing before the Green Carpet of the dos and don'ts. By the looks of these, we can set up a contengency to make up a school strength!

Walking around the Land of the Rising Sun

Despite the horror stories of the ever confusing train lines of japan, Tokyo has a relatively hassle free system of transportation. There is definitely a stop for every location u can think of.
Tokyo's subway network is operated by two companies, the Toei Subways with four lines, and Tokyo Metro (formerly known as Eidan Subways) with nine lines. Together, they densely cover central Tokyo, especially the area inside the Yamanote circle and the areas around Ginza and Shitamachi.
Trying to squeeze as much attraction as possible on our fist day, it was definitely worth the blister on my foot.

Leaving on a jet plane

Not a jet plane exactly but an A380! The sweet plane, fresh from the oven Singapore airline plane that has a double deck. Having placing a seating choice of the upper deck, we had the privilege to pass through the 1st class section and what an envy streak struck upon me.
We made our flight smoothly of to Japan at 12 midnight, landing safely 7 in the morning. Time to be lost in translation!