Featured image and film images courtesy of Japan Cuts Hollywood

Japan Cuts Hollywood featured several filmmakers in the screening of their short films collection.

“The Way of My Life” written and directed by Keiya Ando brings the audience to a bustling walkway where a man busks with his guitar. Many do not approach him but rather warrily go their way. The truth is that Yu-to, the singer, is tone deaf. It is his dream to make music but his heart drops when he fails his audition. He returns to his busking spot but not willing to play. However a woman approaches him hoping to “listen” to him again.
This short definitely resonates with those that may be struggling to keep the drive for their passion. It also shows that the goal might not come in the expected shape.


Filmmaker Kazuma Yano’s “OBENTO” is a short and sweet film that shines a light to those that make the meals. The gentle voice of Sei Shiraishi and soft piano music adds to the words of nostalgia. Viewers will feel the warmth that the emotions and food brings and hopefully reflect on their own “someone” that provided for them before.


“AKASHI” from filmmaker Mayumi Yoshida follows Kana as she heads back home to Japan after hearing her grandmother passed away. She leaves the U.S. along with some unresolved issues to be with her family. On the way, she looks back on her conversations with the woman about love and how different things were with her generation.
Some western viewers, especially younger ones may get shocked from the grandmother’s complicated relationship and how it forged a family. It also shows how love and respect can exist within boundaries.


 

Delectable scenes of handcrafted meals start “O-bento” from Director Motoyuki Itabashi. The short then moves to a young man named Nao who still loves making and eating obentos. At work, one of his co-workers Eguchi will be leaving the company so Nao must join her in order to understand the work he will be picking up. While he seems to be like a simple man with a strange obsession, she finds out how his knowledge and skills help her with her last days at work.
The short, like “OBENTO”, highlights the underappreciated work done to make the meal but in a story that has similar feels to a romantic comedy.  


“Motherhood” breaks away from the collected set with a dark tale from Tatsuro Manno. Mia Sakaguchi goes to a temple with her husband to get a fortune charm for her pregnancy. Not paying attention to where she is going, she slips and falls from the stairs. However, her husband doesn’t find a body on the ground. Viewers and Mia find themselves in a hospital where the head doctor doesn’t believe her age. Going through the place, she discovers that she is in the year 1994 and another woman who also accidentally time traveled. She needs to find a way to escape for the sake of both her and her child.
The film not only brings terror to its audience but also educates them about Japan’s past regarding mental health of women in the form of the defunct Eugenics Protection Law. The fact that it was removed in 1996 would give shock to anyone and shows how much of a stigma and fear those struggling with mental illness carried. Hopefully the film will bring a message to others to help those affected with proper care.


Director Thessa Meijer’s “The Walking Fish” presents a fantastical tale in the form of three interviews. Each give an account of the time they spent with Mutsumi, the mutsugoro (mudskipper) who became a girl. Viewers learn more about her from her childhood friend, old roommate and last lover along with the reason she returned to the sea.
Some of the  scene compositions and color schemes may remind of iconic director Wes Anderson and “The Walking Fish” would truly be a story up his alley. While it is a sci-fi story, it only uses makeup and prosthetics to show those elements. It is a bittersweet but enjoyable film to see.

For more information on Japan Cuts Hollywood, head over to their website and facebook page. Also check out their main show, Japan Cuts in New York.

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