Japanese women directors

Dean Bowman deanbowman.uk
Fri Dec 22 19:32:42 EST 2006

I don't know many Female Japanese directors, but i thought an
interesting contrast was the cinema of Iran. Quite apart from how the
films are viewed, there are an astonishing number of female filmmakers
at work in Iran. Mark Cousins (Story of Film) mentioned at an
introduction of a screening of The Apple i gave recently that the
figure was close to 20%, compared to America's 5%. Of course Samira
Makhmalbaf, the youngest recipient of the Palme d'or, is the most
obvious example. Also one of Iran's key new wave directors was Forugh
Farrokhzad (This House is Black), who was a prominent figure in
modernist poetry and a 'feminist' intellectual. Why this should be the
case in an Islamic country often seen, by westerners at least, to be
opressive towards women is intriguing. I'm not sure what my point is,
but i think that the work of these directors is all the more inspiring
because of this.

On 22/12/06, J.sharp <j.sharp at hpo.net> wrote:
> This is interesting. At Raindance Festival this year I got talking to a
> freelance journalist who was doing a bit of research about women film
> directors. It seems that in North America, the UK and much of Europe, the
> number of films being made  by women directors has dropped significicantly
> in the past 5 years.
> As it happened, three of the films I selected to be screened in the Japanese
> selection were directed by women, all first time feature directors, and all
> three make my best of top 10 which will appear on Midnight Eye sometime very
> soon. The films were Dear Pyongyang, Bambi Bone, and Moon and Cherry.
> Moon and Cherry proved to be one of the most popular films of the festival,
> and the sort of work that it amazes me foreign distributors don't pick up on
> - this is a film that people of any culture will find funny, sexy,
> thought-provoking and poignant, and is one of the best independant films of
> the past few year, by a woman or otherwise. It tells the story of a young
> virginal male university student who joins an erotic writing club and is led
> a merry dance by the clubs only feel member, and the only one published, who
> uses him as the raw material for her next work. I really look forward to
> seeing the next film from its director Yuki Tanada
> Bambi Bone is arty, expressionistic and definitely not for all tastes, but
> signals the arrival of another really talented director in the form of
> Noriko Shibutani, telling a tale about two errant kids running riot around
> their working class environment in a film that perhaps most resembles Nobody
> Knows meets Julian Donkey Boy.
> And finally, Dear Pyongyang is a documentary in the Naomi Kawase vein by
> Yong-hi Yang, tackling the North Korean issue in the form of an intimate
> portrait of her aging but remarkably charismatic father - he is utterly
> ambivalent about Japanese homeland, and fiercely patriotic towards the
> country of his origins, believing strongly in the idea of a united communist
> Korea - to such an extent that he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice
> in 1971 of splitting up his family and sending his three sons, then aged 14,
> 16, and 18, to live forever in Pyongyang as part of a repatriation project
> that saw 90,000 such zainichi returning to North Korea. Much of this
> fascinating work follows the filmmaker, her father and her mother on a
> family visit to their estranged family in Pyonyang.
> So there's been some brilliant independant features by women directors in
> Japan in recent year, and I would definitely add my voice to the chorus of
> approval for Hebi Ichigo. It is just such a shame that none of these women
> ever make it as big in the industry as their male colleagues- there's a
> serious threat of these directors suffering similar problems getting new
> projects funded as Lynne Ramsay, certainly among the most interesting
> directors to emerge in the UK in recent years. Its curious for example how
> Naomi Kawase seems to have fallen off the map recently, and one has to
> wonder when we'll see anything new from her.
> Jasper Sharp
> --
> Midnight Eye: The Latest and Best in Japanese Cinema
> www.midnighteye.com
> ===
> Available now in bookstores everywhere:
> The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film (Stone Bridge Press)
> by Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp
> http://www.midnighteye.com/features/midnighteye_guide.shtml
> "Easily one of the most important books on Japanese cinema ever released in
> English."
> - Newtype USA
> --------- Original Message --------
> From: KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
> To: KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu <KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu>
> Subject: Re: Sharasojyu and Hebi Ichigo
> Date: 21/12/06 17:06
> >
> > In North America, at least, it's _quite_ difficult to find Japanese
> > films by female directors. There are some fairly well-known female
> > _screenwriters_ (Wada Natto comes immediately to mind, and Nobumoto
> > Keiko who wrote many of the _Cowboy Bebop_ episodes), but directors...
> > well, that's another story all together! _Hebi Ichigo_ sounds
> > interesting--anyone want to contribute titles to a &quot;must see&quot;
> list?
> > But to keep this from becoming &quot;just a list&quot; which seems to
> disappoint
> > some people, add a short line or two why the film is a 'must see'...
> >
> > Let's get a jump on the 2006 Top Ten lists...! ^_^
> >
> >
> > Tim Iles
> > University of Victoria
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > Quoting Michael McCaskey &lt;mccaskem at georgetown.edu&gt;:
> >
> > &gt; Sharasojyu is a really great film, and I hope that at some point
> > &gt; there will be a DVD with English subtitles that I could show parts
> > &gt; of to my students (or is there already one with subtitles that I
> > &gt; don't know about?).
> > &gt;
> > &gt; Another film that I somehow associate with this one is Nishikawa
> > &gt; Miwa's Hebi Ichigo (2003). Maybe only because both are by women
> > &gt; directors, both are visually striking, and I saw both around the
> > &gt; same time. I believe my Japanese DVD of Hebi Ichigo does have
> > &gt; English subtitles, though I haven't watched it for some while.
> > &gt;
> > &gt; Michael McCaskey
> > &gt; Georgetown Univ.
> > &gt;
> > &gt; ----- Original Message -----
> > &gt; From: tim.iles at utoronto.ca
> > &gt; Date: Wednesday, December 20, 2006 4:07 pm
> > &gt; Subject: Re: Actor's name in _Sharasojyu_
> > &gt;
> > &gt;&gt; Many thanks--back in my office now with the credits in front of
> > &gt;&gt; me, it
> > &gt;&gt; looks like the boy is Yamamoto Masashi (not sure about the given
> > &gt;&gt; name)--small part, IMDb doesn't list him, but as a character
> > &gt;&gt; _runs_
> > &gt;&gt; well, at least!
> > &gt;&gt;
> > &gt;&gt; Best,
> > &gt;&gt;
> > &gt;&gt;
> > &gt;&gt; Tim Iles
> > &gt;&gt; University of Victoria
> > &gt;&gt;
> > &gt;&gt;
> > &gt;&gt; Quoting Frako Loden &lt;frako at well.com&gt;:
> > &gt;&gt;
> > &gt;&gt; &gt;
> > &gt;&gt; &gt;&gt; Could anyone tell me off-hand the name of the actor who
> played
> > &gt;&gt; Kei
> > &gt;&gt; &gt;&gt; in Kawase Naomi's _Sharasojyu_? I'm away from my copy of
> the
> > &gt;&gt; film
> > &gt;&gt; &gt;&gt; at the moment and so can't check the credits...
> > &gt;&gt; &gt;
> > &gt;&gt; &gt; Tim, I don't see a character named Kei in any cast lists.
> This
> > &gt;&gt; is what
> > &gt;&gt; &gt; I have (and it agrees with imdb.com):
> > &gt;&gt; &gt;
> > &gt;&gt; &gt; Shun    FUKUNAGA Kohei
> > &gt;&gt; &gt; Yu      HYOUDO Yuka
> > &gt;&gt; &gt; Reiko   KAWASE Naomi
> > &gt;&gt; &gt; Taku    NAMASE Katsuhisa
> > &gt;&gt; &gt; Shouko  HIGUCHI Kanako
> > &gt;&gt; &gt;
> > &gt;&gt; &gt; Frako Loden
> > &gt;&gt;
> > &gt;&gt;
> > &gt;&gt;
> > &gt;&gt;
> > &gt;
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> ________________________________________________
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Dean Bowman
Critic on Asian Cinema

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