09 May 2016

Tiny Tracks (2015)

When contemplating his collection of books, the philosopher Walter Benjamin wrote “Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories.” (Illuminations, p. 60).  When a collector passes away, this “chaos of memories” is passed on to loved ones who often struggle with whether to keep or discard items that represent a lifelong passion.

In the case of Hilda Walsh, her husband Ivor Walsh (1923-2002) was a streetcar enthusiast.  His favourite streetcar system was the one in Boston, Massachusetts.  Beginning in 1979 or 1980, Ivor began transformed the Walsh’s basement in Toronto into a miniature replica of Boston’s Green Line as it would have looked in the 1950s.  In addition to the meticulously modeled streetcars and tracks, the miniature streetcar scene features highly detailed neighbourhood buildings with interior and exterior lights including an authentic 1950s diner complete with customers eating their meals.  The roof of one of the stations has 350 miniature light bulbs in its ceiling.  When he was alive, Ivor would have the streetcar running all day while listening to cassettes of Frank Sinatra.

This slice of life short documentary by Naomi Hocura is a loving tribute to the life and passion of Ivor Walsh, told in the first person by his widow Hilda and his friends and fellow enthusiasts Dave Haire and Phil Spencer.  It also tells us a great deal about Hilda herself, her warmth, her love for her late husband, and her own passion for making stained glass.  I particularly love the cinematography of the film, such as the cutaways of close up details of the tracks and the miniature scenes. 

Tiny Tracks had its world premiere at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto.  Carol Off interviewed Naomi Hocura and Hilda Walsh about the film for As It HappensThe Toronto Star also wrote about the film.

Official website: http://tinytracksdoc.com/

Naomi Hocura is a Canadian musician / artist / filmmaker / curator based in Erin, Ontario.  In 2009, she curated the animated short programme Seconds Under the Sun (Toronto/Winnipeg) featuring works by animators from puppet master Kihachiro Kawamoto to cutting edge avant-garde artists like Akino Kondoh and Atsushi Wada.  I once saw her perform a psychedelic soundtrack to Kenji Mizoguchi’s The Water Magician (1933) with her band the Vowls (Shinsedai 2010).

2016 Cathy Munroe Hotes

Animation at Nippon Connection 2016

Animation at Nippon Connection 2016
Frankfurt am Main, May 24-29

It’s a strong year for animation at Nippon Connection 2016.  The festival features two adaptations of works by the late science fiction writer Project Itoh (伊藤 計劃): The Empire of Corpses (2015) by Wit Studio and Harmony (2015) by Studio 4⁰C.  The co-director of Harmony, Michael Arias (Tekkon Kinkreet, Heaven’s Door) will be present at the German premiere on the 29th.

One of the festival highlights is Keiichi Hara’s award-winning latest feature film Miss Hokusai (2015).  Adapted from Hinako Sugiura’s historical manga of the same name, it tells the story of the renowned artist Hokusai’s third daughter O-Ei, who was such a talented artist talented she would sometimes paint in lieu of her father.  Hara first made a name for himself working on major anime franchises like Doraemon, Obake no Q Taro and Crayon Shin-chan.  Since going independent, he has made the acclaimed features Summer Days with Coo (2007) and Colorful (2010).  Miss Hokusai has won many accolades including the Jury Award at Annecy, four top awards at Fantasia 2015, and Best Animation Film at the 70th Mainichi Film Awards.

Shunji Iwai is better known for his live action films like Love Letter (1995) and Swallowtail (1996).  His animated feature film The Case of Hana + Alice (2015) is a prequel to his teen romance Hana and Alice (2004).  The animation was made using rotoscoping and CG animation.  The anime won Bronze Audience Award for best animated feature film at the 19th Fantasia International Film Festival.

This year’s Japan Visualmedia Translation Academy (JVTA) sponsored film is Twilight of the Cockroaches (Hiroaki Yoshida, 1987).  This live action / animation hybrid has a cult following thanks to an English dub that used to play on Turner Broadcasting networks in the 1990s.  There is currently no region 1 DVD so this screening will be a rare treat for animation fans.  The feature film will be preceded by Rushio Moriyama’s excellent animated short Macky and Euchy in the Midnight Gallery (2015).

Macky and Euchy in the Midnight Gallery

Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai) is returning to Nippon Connection with a strong programme of works by recent grads.  The films will be presented by Hiromitsu Murakami.  Learn more about the programme here. 

Cathy Munroe Hotes of Nishikata Film Review has curated another programme of independently produced animated shorts called A Wild Patience – Indie Animated Shorts by Women.  Stop motion animator Maya Yonesho has recently announced that she will be present at the screening to answer audience questions.

The Studio Ghibli production When Marnie Was There (Hiromasa Yonebayashi, 2014) is screening as part of the Nippon Kids section on Thursday afternoon at the Mal Seh’n Kino.  This is the only animation screening with the German dub.  All others are in Japanese with English subtitles. 

The Case of Hana + Alice
花とアリス殺人事件/ Hana to Alice satsujin jiken
Shunji IWAI, 2015, 100 min.
German premiere, Japanese with English Subtitles
Thursday, May 26, 12:00 Mousonturm Saal
Friday, May 27, 22:30 Mal Seh'n Kino

The Empire of Corpses
屍者の帝国 / Shisha no teikoku
Ryotaro MAKIHARA, 2015, 120 min.
German premiere, Japanese with English Subtitles
Friday, May 27, 12:00 Mousonturm Saal
Saturday, May 28, 22:45 Mal Seh'n Kino

Erinnerungen an Marnie (When Marnie Was There)
思い出のマーニー / Omoide no Mani
Hiromasa YONEBAYASHI, 2014, 99 min.
German dub
Thursday, May 26, 15:30 Mal Seh'n Kino

Takashi NAKAMURA and Michael Arias, 2015, 120 min.
Japanese with English subtitles
German premiere on May 29, in the presence of the director Michael Arias
Wednesday, May 25, 17:30 Mal Seh'n Kino
Sunday, May 29, 14:15 Mousonturm Saal

JVTA Presents: Twilight of the Cockroaches
ゴキブリたちの黄昏 / Gokiburitachi no tasogare
Hiroaki YOSHIDA, 1987, 105 min.
Japanese with English subtitles
Saturday, May 28, 22:30 Naxoshalle Kino

Miss Hokusai
百日紅〜Miss HOKUSAI〜 / Sarusuberi: Miss Hokusai
Director: Keiichi HARA
Japan 2015, DCP, 90 min, Japanese with English subtitles, released to age 12 or older
Friday, May 27, 19:30 Mousonturm Saal
Saturday, May 28, 14:00 Mal Seh'n Kino

Tokyo University of the Arts: Animation

In presence of Hiromitsu MURAKAMI
Thursday, May 26, 14:45 Naxoshalle Kino

A Wild Patience – Indie Animated Shorts by Women

In the presence of the curator Dr. Catherine Munroe Hotes and the director Maya YONESHO
Sunday, May 29, 17:15 Naxoshalle Kino

Tokyo University of the Arts at Nippon Connection 2016

Tokyo University of the Arts at Nippon Connection 2016

Special Guest: Hiromitsu MURAKAMI
Thursday, May 26, 2016, 14:45, Naxoshalle Kino (learn more)

Nippon Connection is presenting a selection of animated shorts by this year’s graduates of Tokyo University of the Art’s 2-year master’s programme in animation.  Animator Hiromitsu Murakami (See: A boy who wanted to be a super hero), who is assistant professor at Geidai will be present to answer questions.  The programme showcases the wide variety of techniques taught at Geidai.  

Who’s there?  
Kojiro INOUE, 2016

First Hand Memories 
手のひらの庭 (Tenohira no Niwa)
Haruka UMEMURA, J 2016

Out of My Mind
Tomomi KOMAZAKI, 2016

4 stories 
物語たちへ (Monogatari-tachi e)
Mio YAMANAKA, 2016

In Inertia 
愚図の底 (Guzu no Soko)
Takuto KATAYAMA, 2016

Nothing for them
Kenshiro WADA, 2016

Japanese Chess 
将棋 (Shōji)
Moe KURIBARA, 2016

Starting Over
ふりだし (Furidashi)
Mika SEIKE, 2016

The Question 

To Heel 
愛のかかと (Ai no Kakato)
Madoka, 2016

I Think You’re a Little Confused
Iku OGAWA, 2016

At the Mouth of Summer 
(Natsu no Jōshin no Kuchi no Naka)
Xinxin LIU, 2016

Calling You 
おもかげたゆた (Omokaketayua)
Hitomi OHTAKARA, 2016

まゆみ (Mayumi)
Chinami TANIGUCHI, 2016


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