09 June 2019

She is Alone (彼女はひとり/ Kanojo wa hitori, 2018)

Suicide is a solitary act but the ripple effects of such a death spread pain in an insidious manner through the lives of those connected to the individual who has so abruptly departed. First time filmmaker Natsuki Nakagawa (中川奈月) explores these ripple effects in her intense 60-minute drama She is Alone (彼女はひとり/ Kanojo wa hitori, 2018).

The story centres on Sumiko, played brilliantly by the up-and-coming actor Akari Fukunaga (福永朱梨), a high school student who has lost her mother to suicide. Rather than reaching out and talking to family and friends, Sumiko internalizes her grief. This leads to a cold relationship with her father and a destructive relationship with her childhood friend, Hideaki, played with great sensitivity by Kanai Hiroto (金井浩人). Sumiko is blackmailing Hideaki and as the layers get peeled back on their relationship, we begin to realize that there is a lot more going on in this twisted coming-of-age tale.

The film draws on elements of the thriller and the Japanese ghost story genres. During the Film Talk: Tokyo University of the Arts at Nippon Connection, I learned that Nakagawa is an admirer of the work of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who was her mentor at Tokyo University of the Arts. Her film does emulate the mood of his films, helped in a great part by the fact that she was able to work with Kurosawa’s cinematographer Akiko Ashizawa (芦澤明子). It is a strong debut feature and I hope that Nakagawa continues to grow as a filmmaker.

You can follow director Natsuki Nakawa and actor Akari Fukunaga on twitter.

2019 Cathy Munroe Hotes

24 May 2019


Dawn Wind in My Poncho

Nippon Connection
Saturday, June 1, 21:30 Mousonturm Studio 3

Nippon Connection has asked me host a Film Talk with guests who have a connection to the Graduate School of Film and New Media at the Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai) in Yokohama. Yokohama’s twin city status with Frankfurt am Main has led to our having been able to invite amazing animation guests and films from Geidai since 2013. 

Participating in the talk will be this year’s animation guest Ilan Nguyen (イラン・グェン), adjuct professor to the Department of Animation.  He is presenting the Tokyo University of the Arts: Animation Shorts on Thursday, May 30th in the Naxoshalle and giving a lecture Remembering Isao Takahata: A Personal View On Post-War Japan’s Most Influential Animation Director on Friday, May 31st in Mousonturm Studio 1.

Two graduates of the Film and New Media graduate programme, Satoru Hirohara (廣原暁) and Natsuki Nakagawa (中川奈月), will also participate in order to give us the student perspective on the institution. Hirohara’s live action feature film Dawn Wind in My Poncho (ポンチョに夜明けの風はらませて / Poncho ni yoake no kaze haramasete, 2017) is having its European premiere at Nippon Connection and is competing for the Nippon Cinema Award. 

She is Alone
Nakagawa’s 60-minute feature She is Alone (彼女はひとり/ Kanojo wa hitori, 2018) is screening in the SKIP CITY INTERNATIONAL D-CINEMA FESTIVAL SPECIAL on Thursday, May 30th as one of two award-winning films from last year’s Skip City Festival in Saitama.  It is in competition in the Nippon Visions Jury and Audience Awards.

This event is sponsored by The City of Yokohama Frankfurt Representative Office and the Referat für Internationale Angelegenheiten der Stadt Frankfurt am Main.

2019 Cathy Munroe Hotes

22 May 2019

Hiroyasu Ishida at Nippon Connection 2019

Studio Colorido

One of the animation highlights at Nippon Connection this year is presence of the rising star of the anime world, Hiroyasu “tete” Ishida (石田 祐康, b. 1988). The festival will be the German premiere of Ishida’s debut feature anime Penguin Highway (ペンギン・ハイウェイ, 2018).  They will also be showing a selection of his animated short films. After the screening of his shorts, Ishida will be participating in a film talk.

Originally from Aichi Prefecture, Ishida studied animation at Kyoto Seika University where he was mentored by the legendary anime director Gisaburo Sugii (Night on the Galactic Railroad, The Life of Guskou Budori). While a student at Kyoto Seika, Ishida’s amusing short film Fumiko’s Confession (2009) became an online sensation. It went on to win many awards around the world including the Excellence Award at the Japan Media Arts Festival. This was followed by his more introspective graduate film rain town (2011) which was also met with acclaim and won Ishida the New Face Award at the Japan Media Arts Festival.

In 2011, together with producer Hideo Uda, Ishida co-founded Studio Colorido in Tokyo, where he made more short works before taking on the challenge of his first feature film. Penguin Highway (2018) won the Axis: Satoshi Kon Award for Excellence in Animation at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montréal. It also earned Ishida a nomination for Best Animated Feature Film at the Japanese Academy Awards.

Friday, May 31, 19:30 Mal Seh’n Kino → Buy tickets
Saturday, June 1, 11:30 Mousonturm Saal
Japan 2018, 118’, Japanese with German subtitles

Sunday, June 2, 15:00 Naxoshalle Kino
Japanese with English subtitles

Fumiko’s Confession
Fumiko no Kokuhaku
by Hiroyasu ISHIDA, 2009, 2:22

rain town
by Hiroyasu ISHIDA, 2011, 9’55”

Sonny Boy & Dewdrop Girl
Hinata no Aoshigure
by Hiroyasu ISHIDA, 2013, 17’58”

Fastening Days
by Hiroyasu ISHIDA, 2014, 11’12”

Paulette’s Chair
Poulette no Isu
by Hiroyasu ISHIDA, 2014, 4’01”

2019 Cathy Munroe Hotes