I'll be flying off to Estonia in a couple of hours. (by the time you're reading this, I'm probably already on the plane).
A month ago, I was invited to participate in the 60 SECONDS OF SOLITUDE IN YEAR ZERO omnibus project with a group of directors from all over the world. Most other directors involved in this are world-famous masters like Naomi Kawase, Park Chan Wook, Amir Naderi, Shinji Aoyama, Kim Ji-Woon, Tom Tywker, Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Brillante Mendoza and many others (see full list of directors). Being able to participate in this project with filmmakers whose works have inspired me so much is quite an honour, and also rather humbling. (I'm listed as a representative for both Malaysia and Japan, the other filmmaker representing Malaysia is my regular collaborator Woo Ming Jin).
Each director is supposed to make a 1-minute short film, so that when all our contributions are put together, it becomes a (hopefully awesome) one-hour omnibus film.
And there will only be ONE screening for this omnibus film, in Tallin, on the 22nd of December.
I first heard about the PIA Film Festival (English site here) from my friend Maiko (who is supposed to produce my next Japanese-language short film). It's an important film festival that launched many careers of young Japanese filmmakers, normally when winning an award at the Tokyo PFF, their films end up touring around the nation, and some, of course, get invited to important foreign film fests. There were some winners at the Berlin Film Festival too. Naomi Kawase was a Pia winner, I heard Kiyoshi Kurosawa was one too.
Today was the opening of the 30th Pia Film Festival, so I decided to go there and check out two of the films in competition. It's only 1200 yen (300 yen cheaper than a normal film), and I get to watch 2 films, so it's a good deal.
The festival is held in a cinema at Shibuya Crosstower, the place was filled with young people, probably university students too. Unsurprising, since the filmmakers are those around my age as well. The cinema was packed, and I started wondering if a similar event was held in Malaysia, whether it would be just as successful. It's not a bad start though. A film festival for student films held in a cinema, of course, the tickets have to be cheaper as well.
In the little-seen (and UNDERRATED) Antonio Banderas film, THE 13TH WARRIOR, his character managed to learn Norse miraculously in a night by sitting with the crowd of vikings he was traveling with, and listening closely to their conversations. Sometimes, I feel as if I'm doing the same when i go to the cinema to watch a Japanese film without subtitles. Often I don't understand most of the dialogue, but I find myself 'understanding' the plot.
Both films I saw, SEMIGAO 蝉顔 and TENGU LEAF 天狗の葉 seem to revolve around the same themes. The disaffected young people in contemporary Japan, whose relationships with their family members are friendly but somewhat distant, and they are those who are left behind by the rapidly moving society. However, both use vastly different methods to tell their stories.