San Sento

Mark Schilling schill
Sun Dec 13 07:00:42 EST 1998

From: Mark Schilling <schill at>
To: KineJapan at
Re: San Sento launch annoucment
Date: Sunday, December 13, 1998

I thought this piece I wrote for Screen International on Sento Takenori's
new production unit might be of interest to list members. The English name
is not yet official, but simply a transciption of the Japanese name. Sento
explained that "san sento" could be translated as "three cents" -- a way of
indicating that the company's film's will be low in budget (but, as he was
quick to add, high in quality). "Sento," he admitted, is also a way to get
his own name on the corporate masthead.  

Tokyo: Wowow, Japan's leading satellite entertainment channel, with nearly
2.5 million subscribers, has launched a new film production subsidiary.
Called San Sento Cinema Works, the new unit will be headed by Takenori
Sento, the producer who has been responsible for the Wowow J Movies Wars of
films by young directors since its inception in 1992. 
	The unit is the first of several in-house venture businesses that Wowow
plans to establish as part of its Project Challenge initiative for
corporate restructuring that it announced last April. Capitalized at Y100
million ($847,458), it will develop, produce and manage rights for
low-budget feature films. 
	While not producing any blockbusters, Sento's J Movie Wars series has
generated arthouse hits and boosted several of its directors to box office
success and international recognition. One is Hideo Nakata, who helmed the
psycho-horror smash success Ring last year. Another is Naomi Sento, Sento's
wife, who last year become the first woman and youngest director to win the
Camera D'or prize at the Cannes Film Festival for Suzaku -- a J Movie Wars
film . 
	With San Sento Cinema Works, Sento intends to continue working with the
best of the Japanese New Wave. Also, he plans to make documentaries for
broadcast on terrestrial television.
	San Sento will continue making films under the J Movie Wars banner,
beginning with Buta no Mukui (The Pig's Reward), a drama set in Okinawa
that will be directed by Yoichi Sai, who also helmed All Under the Moon, a
J Movie Wars black comedy that swept domestic awards in 1993. Shooting is
scheduled to start early next year, 
	Another film on the J Movie Wars lineup is Gojoe Reisenki (Gojoe), the
first period film by leading indie director Sogo Ishii that will go before
the cameras in 1999. 
	In April, Sento plans to launch New Project JcineX, which he described as
"a major project that will assemble young directors who have gained strong
reputations at foreign film festivals and make films with them aimed at the
overseas market." Budgets will be larger and shooting schedules longer than
those for J Movie Wars films. Among directors participating are Go Riju,
Makoto Shinozaki, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Shinji Aoyama and Naomi Sento. 
	As a basic rule, Sento intends to raise corporate financing for blocks of
five films rather than on a title by title basis. He also said that, in the
future, he hopes to launch a film fund.  
	"The Japanese film industry is lagging behind that of Europe and the
United States," added Sento at the press conference announcing the new
unit. "I would like to introduce Western production methods into that
industry as quickly as possible. That is one of the missions I hope to
accomplish with this new company."   

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