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.
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.
130pm. Movie Cafe.
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: