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OUR FAMILY (Bokutachi no Kazoku)


  OUR FAMILY


 May 13, 2014
Q&A guests: Director Yuya Ishii and stars Satoshi Tsumabuki and Sosuke Ikematsu


our family
Yuya Ishii, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Sosuke Ikematsu

FCCJ film night audiences are no stranger to movie stars, but they are sometimes surprised when the lights go up after the screening, and the Japanese camera crews start filing in for the Q&A sessions. On May 13th, there were 6 TV crews and several dozen still photographers from the Japanese press — all there for sound bites and great images of megastar Satoshi Tsumabuki (Waterboys, The Little House) and Sosuke Ikematsu (The Last Samurai, Love’s Whirlpool). The instant and widespread Japanese coverage of our events enables us to continue sneak previewing some of the most buzzworthy films opening soon in a theater near you.

On this night, that film was Yuya Ishii's Our Family, soon to open across Japan. In 2013, Ishii’s The Great Passage was selected as Japan’s official Oscar entry and swept up every conceivable domestic award, including the top four Japan Academy Prizes. The director could have had his pick of any follow-up project, but as he explained to the FCCJ audience, he chose to adapt the bestselling novel Our Family because he was consciously making a break from the existential comedies with which he had made his reputation. Why? Because it was to be the last film he made before turning 30.

The result is an extremely mature work. Our Family features Ishii’s trademark comical touches but also demonstrates his new mastery of gravitas as it limns the emotional journey of a four-member dysfunctional family facing a range of modern-day maladies, most crucially, its matriarch’s diagnosis with a potentially fatal brain tumor. Rather than continuing to hurtle toward collapse, the family gradually begins to discover in each other unexpected sources of strength and ultimately, hope.

 

our family stage2Ishii and Tsumabuki share a laugh during the Q&A session.

Tsumabuki and Ikematsu, who convincingly portray the estranged brothers in the film, discussed their images of families at FCCJ, both agreeing that there’s no such thing as the perfect one, and Tsumabuki stressed that communication is the most powerful tool to overcoming problems. When questioned about his recent appearances in a string of family dramas, he insisted that he hadn’t planned it that way. All three men were curious about the overseas reception of the film when it seems to them so specifically Japanese — but FCCJ's audience clearly found it to be universal.

ou family interviewNippon TV interviews French critic Aude Boyer after the screening.

 Our Family has been selected for competition at the Montreal World Film Festival in August, marking its international debut. The festival is very Japanese-film friendly, having bestowed a range of awards on Japanese titles nearly every year, including the top prizes for A Long Walk (2006) and Departures (2008).
Photos by Koichi Mori except where noted.

Our Family poster2©2014 'Our Family' Film Committee

Media Coverage

2014年5月14日

  • 『Oha 4 News Live』 日本テレビ
  • 『ZIP!SHOWBIZ TODAY』 日本テレビ
  • 『あさチャン!LIFE』 TBS
  • 『めざましテレビ』 フジテレビ

2014年5月15日

  • 『一夜づけ』 テレビ東京
  • 『スッキリ!!スッキリエンタメ』 日本テレビ

PLOT FOR PEACE (Neruson Mandera Shakuho no Shinjitsu) Event


  PLOT FOR PEACE


 April 10, 2014
Q&A guests: Director Carlos Agulló and subject Jean-Yves Ollivier


plot for peace
Jean-Yves Ollivier, Carlos Agulló

“In 1981, arriving in South Africa felt like visiting another planet, like an American movie from the 1950s,” says Jean-Yves Ollivier in his no-holds-barred narration for Plot for Peace. “I wondered how the whites did not realize that, unless they changed and accepted to share the country, they were headed for disaster.”

Plot For Peace, which has been quietly picking up awards on the international festival circuit and is opening in Japan before it opens in the US, is history retold as political thriller, a riveting documentary that reveals the untold story of apartheid’s fall, focusing on the “mysterious Frenchman” Ollivier, alias “Monsieur Jacques,” an Algiers-born businessman who secretly set the dominoes in motion, using his personal relationships with heads of state to facilitate the mediation and peace processes that ultimately led to the birth of a new South Africa and Nelson Mandela’s release from jail.

Most of the attendees at FCCJ’s sneak preview screening had never heard of Ollivier, and didn’t remember many of the events replayed in the film’s horrific newsreel footage. Nor did they recall all the former statesmen, generals, diplomats, master spies and anti-apartheid fighters who appear in the film — except perhaps Winnie Mandela — talking us carefully through the maze of African politics of the time, clarifying events and roles in their frontline efforts to help end apartheid.

The “regional battlefield” that was a result of the ANC cells that set up in neighboring states, along with the international embargo on trade with Botha’s regime, were crimping Ollivier’s commodities business. So he decided to do something about it. For nearly a decade, he dared to fly (via Paris) from one neighboring African nation to another on his own dime, mediating between the Marxist-Leninists in Mozambique and Angola, the apartheid supporters, the French and the Americans. In the end, as Plot for Peace details, Ollivier’s tireless behind-the scenes negotiations eventually rewrote Africa’s future. But we didn’t know how we got there — until the film’s revelations.

after plot for peaceJean-Yves Ollivier joined audience members in the Main Bar after the screening,
where they continued to be riveted by his presence.

Not surprisingly, FCCJ’s audience had wideranging questions for Ollivier, who was named a Grand Officer of the Order of Good Hope by President Nelson Mandela in 1995, among many other honors.  Madrid-based director Carlos Agullo explained that a series of connections had led to his surprise involvement on the film, since he had directed neither a feature nor a documentary, and had not been to Africa. Ollivier told a number of anecdotes, but none was more well received than the one about his first meeting with Nelson Mandela, after the great man’s release from prison. Uncharacteristically, Ollivier had forgotten to bring along a camera, and when Mandela asked whether he’d like to take a photo with him, Ollivier covered with a charming excuse about how he would rather “keep this wonderful memory in my heart, not in a photograph.”

Veteran FCCJ journalist Edwin Karmiol asked whether Ollivier might be able to turn his hand to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and received a response that was open to interpretation. Plot for Peace is scheduled to be shown in Tel Aviv in May, and Ollivier plans to be there.

Following the success of the documentary, Agullo is now at work on a narrative version of the story. But the irrepressible Ollivier joked that he was told he would not be allowed to play himself in the new film.
Photos by Koichi Mori except where noted.
plot for peace poster

Media Coverage


  OYAKO: PRESENT TO THE FUTURE


 April 2, 2014
Q&A guests: Director Toshi Inomata, producer Yoshiko Inoue
and subject Bruce Osborn


Oyako
Toshi Inomata, Yoshiko Inoue, Bruce Osborn

It's no secret that FCCJ's Exhibition Committee Chair Bruce Osborn is a famed photographer. Now he is also the star of a film about his "life's work," the joyous portraits of Japanese families that he has been taking for the past 32 years. The MC premiered Oyako: Present to the Future on April 2 to an overstuffed house  close to 200 people. During the Q&A session, Osborn,  producer Yoshiko Inoue and director Toshi Inomata, discussed the project's beginnings, and their decision to pitch it on Motion Gallery, a crowdfunding site that eventually brought in 1/3 of their budget.

Osborn was once just a commercial photographer from Los Angeles; now he is the leader, with his wife Inoue, of a social movement in Japan. Arriving here in 1980, he was inspired to shoot a series of portraits of punk-rock musicians with their parents. Fascinated by the idiosyncrasies of the Japanese "oyako" (parent-child) relationship -- especially when he became a father himself -- he realized that the photos had given him entrée to observe Japanese culture at its most intimate. The revealing and sometimes humorous black-and-white portraits he took brought an overwhelming response from Japanese families -- and thus a movement was born.

filmmakersProducer Satoru Seki, Bruce Osborn, Toshi Inomata

Osborn went on to meet and photograph over 4,500 oyako from a variety of professional and personal backgrounds, and to create Oyako Day with Inoue in 2003, a would-be national holiday celebrating family bonds. For Oborn, it's been a way to document the changes in Japanese society; but as Present to the Future proves, the photos aren't just fun to shoot, they have brought estranged families back together again, brought laughter back to Fukushima following the 3/11 disaster, and brought out the best in everyone who has had the evident joy of posing.

With appearances that include fashion designer Junko Koshino, alpinist Yuichiro Miura, journalist Shuntaro Torigoe, filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi and superheroes Ultraman Zero and Ultra Seven, as well as historic footage, hundreds of photos and two short dramas casting real-life parents and children, the documentary underscores the Japanese belief that we are not isolated individuals. While everyone seems to have a different opinion how to express the meaning of "oyako," Osborn prefers this: "Oyako is the long, unbroken chain of life -- each of us is a link to the past and a bridge to the future."
Photos by Koichi Mori except where noted.

oyako p

Media Coverage

THE ACT OF KILLING (Akuto Obu Kiringu) Event


THE ACT OF KILLING  


 March 20, 2014
Q&A guest: Director Joshua Oppenheimer


Mar 20 14 movie The Act of Killing
Joshua Oppenheimer.  Photo © FCCJ

Joshua Oppenheimer's mega-award-winning documentary The Act of Killing, which focuses on the Indonesian genocide of 1965-66, was 8 years in the making, but took only one year to scoop up over 50 major awards, attract more coverage than just about any other documentary in history, and to completely rewrite the rules of nonfiction filmmaking. Exploring what one critic calls "the psychological gestalt of a country in which mass-murderers brag about their slaughtering -- and still intimidate their neighbors -- with complete impunity," Oppenheimer and his crew (most of whom remain anonymous, for fear of reprisal) encouraged two of the executioners, boastful that they've killed hundreds of "Communists," to reenact their atrocities -- as both perpetrators and victims -- in styles inspired by the classic Hollywood gangster movies they had idolized in their youths.

To audiences accustomed to seeing stories of genocide retold by the survivors and the families of victims, The Act of Killing is particularly disturbing. But Oppenheimer's masterpiece allows us to see the other side, to get beneath the skins of these villains, to probe for something deeper, to capture their conscience, to elicit a moral response. There is no question that he has achieved those aims -- and then some.

at the barOppenheimer joins like-minded souls in the Main Bar after the screening: Karen Severns (MC chair),
Alison Klayman and Colin Jones (director and producer of Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry), Argentinian documentarians
Patricio Lumini and Maria Sol Nakagama, and Act of Killing PA Shusaku Harada.

FCCJ's audience was most eager to question the director, and he was most eager to respond. Although he admitted that there has not been a major change in Indonesia since the film's release there (it is also downloadable online, where Oppenheimer has made it available for free), he faulted journalists for being fearful, for refusing to name names and to continue maintaining the status quo. He did note that one of the killers, Herman, had quit the Pancasila Youth paramilitary group that maintains a grip on Medan, upon seeing the film. "He is one of the only ones brave enough to go around holding screenings of the film," he said.

Oppenheimer is just completing a new film, The Look Of Silence, about a family of survivors in Medan who confront the men who murdered their son. He is still hopeful that the perpetrators will be brought to justice, and that the culture of complicity will be curtailed. But a trial at the International Criminal Court would "require the UN Security Council to refer the case, and that's not going to happen with the current members. Fifty years is long enough for [the US and the UK], as well as Japan, which is also implicated, to get comfortable with our roles eagerly supporting the killing machine."
Photos by Koichi Mori except where noted.

aok poster(c) Final Cut for Real Aps, Piraya Film AS and Novaya Zemlya LTD, 2012

Media Coverage

THE BUTLER (Daitoryo no Shitsuji no Namida) Event


THE BUTLER


 February 6, 2014
Q&A guest: Director Lee Daniels


Daniels
Lee Daniels

Lee Daniels' award-winning film uses the real-life story of a White House butler to trace the dramatic civil rights struggles that ultimately made it possible for an African American to rise to the highest position in America, with the election of Barack Obama in 2008. The Butler follows Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) as he serves during seven presidential administrations between 1957 and 1986. At the White House, he becomes an eyewitness to history and the inner workings of the Oval Office as the civil rights movement unfolds. He is the perfect butler, but his commitment to his First Family fosters tensions at home, alienating his loving wife Gloria (Oprah Winfrey) and creating conflict with his son, who joins the Freedom Riders movement and endangers his father's position.

Butler QA

With an extraordinary lead performance by Oscar winner Whitaker and a star-laden ensemble cast, this epic drama guides us through political upheavals and the growth of a nation - but ultimately, it is a story about the resilience of one man, and the power of family.

Daniels, only the second African American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Directing (for 2009's Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire), was an enormously candid and charming Q&A guest, with much to say about growing up when there were still drinking fountains "For Coloreds Only," about the state of race relations in America, and about his reasons for making the unabashedly commercial The Butler -- much of his motivation had to do with being a father himself, and wanting his children to understand the giants whose shoulders they are standing upon.
Photos by Koichi Mori except where noted.

Butler2©2013,Butler Films,LLC.All Rights Reserved.

Media Coverage

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