08 April 2008

Salt Lake Screaming (舞いあがる塩, 2007)

I always like to check out any student films or unusual collections of short films at festivals. Although one risks sitting through some pretty dire films before finding any gems, the risk is worth it. There is nothing more exciting at a film festival than the feeling of discovery when watching a film demonstrates an originality of vision and a freshness of subject matter.

Among the films on offer at the Waseda Musabi Student Film Explosion session at Nippon Connection on Saturday, an 18 minute animation by Hiroyuki Mizumoto stood out for me as a director with promise. His film, Salt Lake Screaming (Maiagaru Shio, 2007) uses a daring mixture of animation styles including stop motion and cel animation, as well as incorporating elements of experimental filmmaking. The programme synopsis gave this analysis of the film’s meaning: “All of us live with products manufactured in different countries: the familiar always holds something alien. How does this influence the reality of things?”

I am not really sure what to make of that interpretation. My own understanding of the film was that Mizumoto was trying to express something about our relationship to the environment. In Shinto, salt is used in purification rituals. Salt is, of course, essential to life, but an excess of salt can be destructive. In my view, the film explores this ambiguous relationship between people and salt, and suggests larger questions of environmentalism and community.

My only criticism of the film is that it relies too heavily on the voice-over narration. The images that Mizumoto created demonstrate that he has an amazing talent as an artist. He needs to allow his visuals to speak for themselves and to use narration only minimally. His readiness to take risks in his use of images and the experimental way in which he used montage suggest that there will be many exciting films to look forward to in the future career of this young artist. Check out Mizumoto’s webpage for stills from his earlier films and for examples of his photographic work.

Hiroyuki Mizumoto (水本博之) Filmography

* The Nightmare of the Radish (Chinurareta Daikon / 血塗られた大根, 2002)

* HAMETSU (2003)

* The Place of the End (Koura Bijyon Saihate no Henkyou / 甲羅ビジョン最果ての辺境, 2003)

* Two Trips and a Coffee(Futatsu no Tabi to Kouhii / 2つの旅とコーヒー , 2003 )

* Home, Movies, and from Outer Space (Ie to Eiga to Yūsei / 家と映画と遊星 , 2005 )

* The Destruction Sounds of the Monster from the Deep Sea (Shinkai kara kuru Oto / 深海から来る音 , 2006)

* The Long Journey (Nagai Tabi / 長い旅, 2006)

* Salt Lake Screaming (Maiagaru Shio / 舞いあがる塩, 2007)

© Catherine Munroe Hotes 2008