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  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.

filmmakers
Producer 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 bar
Oppenheimer 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.

butler poster
©2013,Butler Films,LLC.All Rights Reserved.

Media Coverage

KILLERS (KILLERS/Kiraazu) Event


KILLERS


 January 24, 2014
Q&A guests: Writer-codirector-producer Timo Tjahjanto,
stars Kazuki Kitamura and Rin Takanashi 


killers
Rin Takanashi, Kazuki Kitamura, Timo Tjahjanto. Photo © FCCJ.

Marking a groundbreaking collaboration between Japan and Indonesia, the highly anticipated Killers arrived at FCCJ just days after its world premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and less than a week before its Japan debut on February 1. The pan-Asian thriller was coproduced by Nikkatsu Corp. and Indonesian production house Guerilla Merah Films. Shot in Tokyo and Jakarta, the film’s creative team includes some of the hottest names in the business: producer Yoshinori Chiba of Cold Fish fame and executive producer Gareth Evans of The Raid: Redemption.

One-half of the acclaimed directing duo the Mo Brothers, Timo Tjahjanto heaped praise on Nikkatsu’s support of the venture, which spent only 15 days shooting in Tokyo before moving to Jakarta for 40 more.

Although some people were scared off by the MC’s description of Killers and the truly frightening Japanese poster, they were missing the bigger picture: this film is one of the first major international coproductions with a Japan studio — a trend that will surely continue. Films in this violent, psychological thriller genre (sometimes derisively called “torture porn”) are an outgrowth of the J-Horror films that became so popular worldwide in the 90s, another big story. These genre films also tend to be cheaply made, but they also tend to be among the most profitable films at the global box office.

So Killers is an immensely newsworthy film — as well as a well-reviewed one — and the FCCJ audience was privileged to have an opportunity to discuss its making with the filmmaking team.

killers poster
© 2013 NIKKATSU/Guerilla Merah Films

Media Coverage

WELCOME to the Film Committee Blog


WELCOME to the Film Committee Blog


 FCCJ MCThe FCCJ is home to Japan’s only ongoing (free!) film series with English subtitles and filmmaker Q&A sessions. Over the past five years, we have hosted about 20 sneak previews and special screenings a year, making the Club a must-stop venue for previews of new releases, particularly specialty and award-winning films (although we don’t slight commercial releases if they are making news). Because our events provide a rare opportunity for filmmakers and stars to interact openly with the press, our Film Nights lead to great sound bites, photos and video grabs — resulting in generous, immediate coverage in Japanese print, broadcast and online media — and also act as a springboard to overseas sales and festival berths, since foreign correspondents and film critics often start the buzz after seeing the films here at FCCJ first. 

The Movie Committee goes after the most noteworthy, newsworthy films and filmmakers, seeking depth, breadth and variety as we line up titles large and small, narrative and documentary, foreign and Japanese, by known and up-and-coming directors. 

Although we host more intimate gatherings for issues-oriented documentaries, we’ve attracted huge crowds for films as diverse as Yang Li’s contentious documentary Yasukuni, Tra Ahn Hung’s Norwegian Wood, the late Koji Wakamatsu’s Caterpillar, the Osamu Mukai vehicle We Can’t Change the World, but We Wanna Build a School in Cambodia, Iranian maestro Amir Naderi’s Tokyo-set Cut, Yoko Narahashi’s Emperor, and even Underwater Love, the world’s first pink (soft-porn) musical. 

In the past few years, we have sneak previewed Japan’s official Oscar selections, Kaneto Shindo’s Postcard and Yonghi Yang’s Our Homeland, along with Oscar nominees Five Broken Cameras, from Palestine and Israel, Lucy Walker’s stunning The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom. After each screening, we have hosted animated Q&A sessions with a range of international and Japanese talent, including screen legends Kyoko Kagawa, Joe Shishido, Chieko Matsubara, Kiki Kilin and Koji Yakusho. 

In 2014, we will continue making every effort to bring noteworthy documentary and narrative films to the FCCJ in a timely manner — enabling members/guests and outside press not only to see them before their Japanese release, but always with English/Japanese subtitles and the presence of the filmmakers/stars themselves. The FCCJ is still the only venue in Japan that provides this privilege on an ongoing basis. 

The FCCJ now has a new website, and we are kicking off 2014 by starting this blog about our screening series. Check back frequently for postings on upcoming events, as well as photos and links to press coverage from past events.
Posted by Karen Severns

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