Tokyo Waka

Tokyo Waka.

All kinds of things were happening this week, not quite substantial enough for each to make it into a post of their own and a bit too much to squeeze them into the Bonus Bits section of the Trailer Weekly, so, instead, I’ve assembled them into this post.

Mononoke Hime News Conferences Video

As I mentioned recently, the Whole Hog Theatre announced a run of performances of their stage adaptation of Studio Ghibli’s Mononoke Hime in Japan. They have now released a video clip of the press conference in Tokyo (not subtitled, but some parts are in English):

Mononoke Hime Rehearsal Photos

To get us more excited about the fast-approaching performance (less than three weeks away!) they also posted photographs from the rehearsals (and listed the supporters of their Kickstarter campaign on their website).

First, there is Kohroku. I can’t remember this character at all, so I should probably set some time aside to watch the animation again before I attend the theatre performance!WHT 1

This is a snapshot of Lady Eboshi, whom I do remember: she’s the gun-wielding power woman at war with our wolf princess San (aka Mononoke Hime). Here she’s all smiley and tame – just stretching. 🙂WHT 2

And photos of puppet-y stuff. I don’t know what this will be exactly, but I kinda dig puppets so I think it’s cool.WHT3

If you want more, have a look at the Whole Hog Theatre’s photo stream on Facebook.

…and Wikipedia Fame

The Whole Hog Theatre also rejoiced over making it onto Wikipedia. Oh yeah!

Kokuriko-zaka Kara Released in US Cinemas

from up on poppy hill

In totally unrelated Studio Ghibli news,「コクリコ坂から」 (Kokuriko-zaka Kara/From up on Poppy Hill, 2011, dir. by Miyazaki Goro) opened in select US cinemas today yesterday – so lucky! I can’t wait to see this film again, but no word about a UK release (whether in cinemas or on home media) as yet. If you are a US-based reader, you can check out the list of cinemas screening Kokuriko-zaka kara here. And read my review if you need convincing.

Bradford International Film Festival (UK): April 11-21, 2013

The Bradford International Film Festival (BIFF) announced its programme (the festival runs from April 11 to 21, 2013) this week. BIFF is not the kind of event that screens big-name films that everyone already knows about, but it likes to go more eclectic and shows gems you would otherwise miss. There isn’t much from Asia on the programme and what there is, isn’t quite enough for me to make want to venture that far north, but if I were in the area, here is what I would watch:

  • Tokyo Waka (USA/Japan, 2012, dir. by John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson)

The screen shot (at the top of this post) for this documentary instantly made me think of the photography of Fukase Masahisa’s Raven, which has been lauded as the best photo book in the last 25 years (and it is very much a gorgeous book – I stumbled across it in art school back when I lived in Belgium and loved it).

Tokyo Waka-wise, the synopsis is as follows: “Tokyo is a digital metropolis and wellspring of spectacular pop culture, its commercial crossroads carpeted with people day and night. Above them, watching from perches on buildings and power lines are more than 20,000 crows. As their numbers soared in recent years, Tokyo fought back: trapping them, destroying nests, and securing rubbish bags. The crows adapted; they are among the smartest of animals. The 13 million people of Tokyo now live alongside them in a stalemate. Tokyo Waka (Waka meaning poem) tells this story and a larger one as well. These smart, opportunistic crows are given their due, but the film is ultimately about the life and culture of Tokyo, one of the great cities of the world.”

  • Last Night (South Korea, 2012, dir. by Bae Du-ri)

A 16-minute short – no Korean title and generally little information about either the film or its maker. Last Night is about a middle-aged woman who plans to escape the drudgery of her life by running away with a neighbour. Then her child appears and she has to make a decision: follow her lover, or stay with her son?

美姐》(Měi jie/The Love Songs of Tiedan, China, 2012, dir. by Hao Jie)


This feature-length film is a tribute to a type of musical performance from a specific region in China (the one that the director hails from). It tells the story of ten-year-old Tiedan, who comes from a family with a long lineage of Er-ren-tai performers. He too   learns the art as he grows up and experiences life and love. The film has been shown at plenty of festivals – from Rotterdam to San Sebastián to Dubai – , the Vancouver International Film Festival summing it up the following way: “Chinese indie comedies are a rare breed. Hao Jie’s new film is that and more: an epic, romantic, down-to-earth tale of music, love, politics, history, family and lust in the countryside. Earthy, touching and wildly funny, with lots of fantastic traditional music to boot.” (quote).

This Ain’t California (Germany, 2012, dir. by Marten Persiel)

This Ain’t California, which screened at Raindance back in October, bills itself as a documentary, but is only half-so one (one of the reasons why it has raised controversies). Personally I don’t care too much whether it’s more fact or more fiction, I think it’s a powerful film with fantastic cinematography and brilliant sound that sweeps you off the ground from the opening scene onwards.

Ljudozder vegetarijanac (Vegetarian Cannibal, Croatia, 2012, dir. by Branko Schmidt)

Like This Ain’t California, this film was on the most recent Raindance programme. I hated it. It’s a deeply unpleasant story about a truly abominable character. It’s infuriating and makes you want to throw things at the screen (well, sort of), but it is also the kind of film you can’t get out of your mind for several days – and that, I think, says a lot about its quality. So do watch, just remember that you are not likely to say “Oh, I loooove this” at the end. Quite the contrary.

Pearblossom Hwy (USA, 2012, dir. by Mike Scott)


I hadn’t heard about this film – about two friends on a road trip to San Franscisco – previously and I still don’t know much about it but thanks to David Hockney’s painting anything Pearblossom Highway always gets my attention. Plus, in this case, there are some Japanese elements in it.

Sundance London: April 25-28, 2013

It’s the second year of Sundance London, the festival that brings USAmerica’s biggest indie film event to Europe. As previously, its focus is completely on US American productions (with a few Brit films thrown into the mix this year). The productions that look the most interesting to me include Upstream Colour (USA, 2013) and Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes (USA, 2012). You can read more about them here (Upstream Colour) and here (Emuanel).

That’s it! Off to bed…