Friday, April 3, 2009

Recommendations from the Master Herself

Tonight, the Yale and Harvard Clubs of Japan co-hosted a screening of emerging filmmaker Atsushi Ogata's latest short comedy, "Eternally Yours." The film is a fifteen minute short in which a Japanese grandma outsmarts a con-man. The film has garnered him much deserved attention in the Western and Japanese film industries and with newfound international support, he is now beginning production on a feature length Japanese comedy.

After the screening and meet and greet, when most of the guests had taken off, a few of us walked over to the bar to have a drink. I was sitting at a table with Atsushi, his assistant, one of the producers for the new film, and a few others. At first I chatted with the producer, a young bilingual Japanese woman who had an incredible background in the film world. She told me that right out of college, she got picked up to work on Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1 as a Japan coordinator. From there, she worked in Tokyo with the film crews for Lost in Translation and Babel and also in China on The Kite Runner.  Lost in Translation is one of my all time favorite films and was indeed one of my initial inspirations for coming here. I have often wondered how American filmmakers would be able to coordinate such an endeavor in Japan. "Don't tell her it's your favorite film... Don't tell her it's your favorite film..." I kept thinking. I was trying not to be too star struck.

I mentioned to her a classic 1960's Japanese film that I had seen and enjoyed, Yajun no Seishun (Youth of the Beast) by Sejun Suzuki. She pointed to the woman sitting to my right and said that she was the real master. The woman next to me was Atsushi's co-writer on his next film. She was elderly and claimed to have 50 years of experience as a screenwriter in the Japanese film industry. When I mentioned the film by Suzuki, she said that they were good friends and that he was the go-between at her wedding! I asked her about other Japanese directors she had met and worked with over the years. She even once met Kurosawa in the editing room, but he was so focused on the editing reel that he didn't cede her any attention. She was telling all of us all sorts of interesting stories about famous directors and film producers in Japan but unfortunately for me, my Japanese comprehension dropped out a few characters in. Atsushi had to fill me in a bit.

Before taking off, I was sure to ask her to write me a list of her favorite Japanese films. The bull's-eye marks her number-one all time favorite.

I'll upload a translation tomorrow. It's well past midnight and all of my housemates are currently asleep. Apologies, but the characters are way beyond my typical comprehension.

And as a sidenote, in case you wanted to know... I did a little online research and it turns out that the screenwriter also wrote the script for a softcore erotic movie in the 1970's.


erindgr8 said...

a softcore erotic movie? you mean like a ピンク映画? because some of those are apparently really artsy and well-done. the only one i've seen is "sex and fury" which has entire scenes that tarantino lifted for kill bill. it's amazing.

Ethan said...

You bet, she had written a so called "Pink Film" starring a famous actress.

Ethan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ethan said...

Check a few posts up! I finally got a translation of the list!