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Monday, February 13, 2012

It's hard to direct a series of interviews with legendary Japanese directors when you are ill.

I came back to Tokyo on the 8th, arriving early in the morning.

As the day went on, I knew something was wrong.

When night came, and I woke up repeatedly for trips to the loo, it was obvious what went wrong.

My annual bout of food-poisoning!

Which sucked, considering that I was supposed to direct a series of interviews with a number of notable Japanese directors, actors and actresses the following day for the Asian Film Awards (which is part of the Hong Kong International Film Festival).

But I managed to drag myself out of the room the next morning (not as easy as it sounds, really) and headed to Shinjuku to meet up with my crew in Hong Kong. (a month earlier, I was in Taipei to film interviews for the same program)

My first interviewee was filmmaking legend Yoji Yamada.

Interestingly, I first saw a Yoji Yamada film 4 years ago at the Hong Kong International Film Festival 2008. KABEI - OUR MOTHER was its opening film. I even managed to speak briefly with its star Asano Tadanobu.

I attended that film festival just a few days before I moved to Tokyo.

During the interview, Yamada-san spoke about his experiences with his long-running TORA-san series, where he described the set as being at home, while the cast and crew were like family members, because they had managed to work so many years together (the 48 Tora-san films were released from 1969 to 1995). Which made a lot of sense, over the few short years as a filmmaker myself, I have had a number of regular collaborators, and they sometimes feel the most familiar to me, especially nowadays.

Here's a photo of Yoji Yamada, me and my crew!

With legendary director Yoji Yamada, along with my crew

We immediately followed that with an interview with actor Tsuyoshi Ihara, from 13 ASSASSINS and LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA.

With actor Tsuyoshi Ihara ("Letters from Iwo Jima", "13 Assassins") and my crew. Ihara wants to participate in productions around the world I

As an actor, he wanted to participate in so many productions from different countries around the world that in the end, no one would ever keep track of him. That is an awesome thought. That's the beauty of the film industry, that we can transcend national and cultural boundaries just like that, if we put our hearts to it. Having done Malaysian and Japanese productions, I started realizing that these interview segments were the first ever Hong Kong productions I've participated in!

I was getting gravely ill. The toilet visits were frequent. It was great that I didn't pass out nor, er, vomit, during the shoots.

Finally, at night, we interviewed the actress Satomi Ishihara.

Her latest film is Sadako 3D, which will come out in May 2012. But no, she's not playing Sadako.

I think Ishihara's a very talented actress with a unique screen presence who occasionally elevates the material that she's given to work with (based on my memories of the H2 J-dorama), so I'm intrigued to see what other films will she be working on in the near future. (... if you make a search for her with the search bar on your right, you might notice that I have mentioned her in less measured, and, er, irrational blog posts written years ago, before I am the relatively respected filmmaker that I am now)

With actress Satomi Ishihara and my crew.

So I survived the first day of the shoot. Not entirely in great shape. Half-dead, actually. But I bought myself some medicine that could hopefully make things better on the second day.

The second day of the shoot began with another important filmmaker, Kiyoshi Kurosawa. I remembered him most for a brief encounter I had with him two years ago (Jan 2010) at Tokyo University of Arts, where he teaches. I was doing some sound work for my short film, EXHALATION, and then I bumped into him.

I loved BRIGHT FUTURE. The images of those guys in Che Guevara T-shirts remain in my mind.

This BRIGHT FUTURE excerpt begins with a scene of these Che Guevara guys from the film.

Finally, at night, we interviewed Hirokazu Kore-eda, a brilliant filmmaker whose works have influenced me immensely.

With director Hirokazu Koreeda and my crew. I'm influenced by his works!

Oshiro Maeda, the child actor of his latest film I WISH, was nominated for Best Newcomer in the Asian Film Awards.

These interviews are now in post-production, I'll be curious to see how they look like when they come out end of the month. You'll be hearing from me, of course.

Two years have gone by since the shoot ended, I'm still going through some lingering effects of the food poisoning. Trying to eat simpler food, trying to rest a little more, my physical condition isn't entirely 100%. I don't think I've ever gone through a shoot while being ill, it's a little tough.

Just a few hours, I wanted to tempt fate and see whether I had gone healthy, so I had a large bowl of ramen. A few spoons of it knocked me out. I guess I'll just stick to cookies and yogurts until I'm very sure I'm fine!

Watch the interview videos here!!!