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!
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.
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.
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.