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Drawing for Studio Ghibli’s となりのトトロ (Tonari no Totoro/My Neighbour Totoro)

First of all: 今年もよろしく。새해 복 많이 받으세요! Happy New Year! Gutes neues Jahr! Gelukkig nieuwjaar! Feliz año nuevo! Felix ano novo! (and so forth)

I thought for the first day of the new year, I would let you know some of the plans I have for Otherwhere in 2012. Mostly it will be more of the same – reviews, trailer weeklies, updates on special screenings and events (with a London/UK focus, but not exclusively so). I will work my way around the film festival circuit in London as much as I can afford (time-wise and money-wise), seeking out Korean and Japanese cinema as well as indies in particular.

But I am also hoping to focus on several specific topics. These won’t be regular features posted on specific days, but they will be thematically linked series that I will revisit over the year with some cross-reflection and comparison.

1) Multilingual films  I will be looking into films which feature dialogue in more than one language, particularly those which don’t just involve a few words or phrases in another tongue, but have a significant presence of a second or even third language. My general impression is that this phenomenon is more common (= accepted and normalised) in Asian cinema than in the West – and that I find quite intriguing. I already looked at a couple such films in 2011 – 만추 (Manchu/Late Autumn, 2010), 보트 / ノーボーイズ、ノークライ(Bo-teu/Boat aka No Boys, No Cry, 2009) and 노리코, 서울에 가다 (Noriko, Seoul-e Gada/Noriko Goes to Seoul, 2011) – but more are on the list, including Beck (2010), 호우시절 (Howoosijeol/Season of Good Rain, 2009) and ノルウェイの森 (Noruwei no mori/Norwegian Wood, 2011).

2) Adaptations – I will pay particular attention to works that have seen multiple reincarnations, whether this means that they have been adapted to a different format from the original, translated into another language, reinterpreted by filmmakers from other countries, or are simply remakes in the same language, culture and format.

Various incarnations of Hana Yori Dango: Makino and F4

花より男子 (Hana Yori Dango, Boys over Flowers, 1992-2003) is a classic example: it started as a manga, but was so popular that it inspired five drama adaptations, two films, an animated film as well as an anime series, all across three countries: Meteor Garden (Taiwanese drama, 2001), Meteor Rain (Taiwanese drama, 2001), Meteor Garden II (Taiwanese drama, 2002), Hana Yori Dango (Japanese drama, 2005), Hana Yori Dango Returns (Japanese drama, 2007), Boys Over Flowers (Korean drama, 2009), Hana Yori Dango (Japanese film, 1995), Hana Yori Dango Final (Japanese film, 2008) and Hana Yori Dango (Japanese anime, 1997).

I don’t think I quite have the guts – or tenacity – to tackle Hana Yori Dango, but ソラニン (Soranin/Solanin, 2012), 우리들의 행복한 시간; (Urideului haengbokhan shigan/Our Happy Time, 2010) and ヒミズ (Himizu/Himizu, 2012) are on my list for sure.

3) Directors/Actors series – I want to systematically explore the oeuvre of a number of directors and actors. Kim Ki-duk is one of these people, Koreeda Hirokazu and Takahiro Miki are two more directors to be explored. Anime will also feature heavily –  expect to see me working my way through the films of Studio Ghibli, Shinkai Makoto, Kon Satoshi and Hosoda Mamoru. Still have to decide on actors.

Recommendations (and comments) are welcome of course – do let me know what you’d like to see here as well, or if you are aware of any films that fall under the rubrics of adaptation or multilingual.

Shinkai’s 秒速5センチメートル (Byōsoku Go Senchimētoru/5 cm per Second)

Otherwise, things featured will be as inspiration strikes – but hopefully I will get to do some book as well as manga reviews this year as well.

A happy 2012, full of films, dramas, literary fiction and non-fiction, photography and more!