Sunday, March 11, 2018

Marking 7 years since the March 11, 2011, triple disasters

Especially today I remember the disaster and the impact it has had on so many peoples' lives.  And I am profoundly humbled to have had the honour of helping to record some of their voices (READ).

It was an honour to be invited to attend yesterday's performance of the musical "Life for Tomorrow" (complete with English subtitles) to mark 7 years since the March 11, 2011, disaster.  昨日の公演に行かせて頂きました。感動しました。「被災地から未来へ、いのちの伝言“いのちてんでんこ” 2018年鎌倉芸術館 公演。」

‬The producer of the musical, Jujiro Maegawa, interviewed more than 70 people who had been displaced by the tsunami and were living in temporary housing.  It was these interviews that formed the story of the musical which was first performed in 2013.  More information about the show is HERE


Today,  March 11, trains were stopped at 14:46, the time the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake struck 7 years ago to observe a minute of silence.



Monday, February 26, 2018

Selling out in Sydney

With the screening in last week's Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival (INFO), "Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE) has now screened on six continents... with just Antarctica now remaining.  And thanks to travel support from the Japan Foundation of Sydney, I was honoured to be able to attend the screening, which also marked my first time in Australia.
Qscreen Mardi Gras FFでの上映完売について、 国際交流基金のサポートを受けられたことを光栄に思います‬。
with Queer Screen director Lisa Rose
the Queer Screen film page for "Boys for Sale"
The Japan Foundation Sydney website
Between attending screenings at the festival and doing a bit of PR, there was not time for too much sight-seeing, but I did make it to the harbour briefly for the must-have photo in front of the Opera House.  I also spent time at the local cinema where I saw films that will not be released in Japan for months, including "Call Me By Your Name" and "Lady Bird".
with 2SER's What Matters's Nic Healey on his morning breakfast radio show
speaking with Elevan Cooper for his Elevan O’Clock podcast
One of the highlights of attending festivals is getting to meet other filmmakers, some of whom I have met before while traveling on the circuit, like Craig Boreham, director of "Teenage Kicks" whom I met last summer at Oufest in Los Angeles (INFO).
L to R: Craig Boreham, me, Will Sullivan (dir "The Ring Thing") & Mikko Makela  (dir. of "A Moment in the Reeds")
The festival audiences were amazing, enthusiastic and out in full force, and despite having already been moved into a bigger cinema, "Boys for Sale" SOLD OUT all 346 seats the day before our screening!  As always, the post-screening Q&A felt too short, but aside from a question from a sex-worker advocate with an agenda, it went really well and the audience asked great questions and had clearly engaged with the film.

UPDATE:  My conversation with Elevan Cooper for his Elevan O’Clock podcast has been published.  Elevan skillfully disarmed me to the point that I appear to have mistaken the interview for a session with a therapist.  Listen HERE for more about my personal life than most viewers of my documentaries ever wanted to know or I ever intended to share, LOL.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

"Boys for Sale" receives Best LGBTQ Feature at Oxford Film Fest!

I am extremely honoured to announce that "Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE) received the award for Best LGBTQ Feature at the Oxford Film Festival in Mississippi last night! 「売買ボーイズ」がOxford映画祭でLGBTQ長編最優秀賞を受賞!

Ahead of the opening of the festival, Brian Whisenant, head programmer for the LGBTQ+ category, was quoted in THIS DM Online article about the festival which is held in Mississippi:
“Oxford Film Festival has always shown LGBTQ films, but (festival director) Melanie Addington and I believe that highlighting the community and giving it its own section shows our town and the film community at large that we are not our state’s legislative bigotry." 
I had really been looking forward to attending this awesome festival, where "Boys for Sale" was screening twice (INFO) and where I had received the additional privilege of being asked to participate in the Queer Filmmaking Panel tomorrow during which "Filmmakers/actors discuss the challenges, advantages of queer filmmaking as well as the state of LGBTQ cinema in today's climate" (INFO).  Unfortunately, due to deadlines on some upcoming projects (more exciting news on those soon!), I had to cancel plans to attend at the last minute.

from the DM Online article




This is the 5th award "Boys for Sale" has received, in addition to THESE four.  On behalf of the entire "Boys for Sale" team, we are truly humbled by the amazing reception the film has received.  Thank you all so much for your support! これまでの4つの賞(こちら)に加え、これで5つ目の賞です。皆さんありがとうございます!

We are next screening in Oregon’s Corvallis Queer Film Festival (Feb 21) and Sydney’s Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival (Feb 20)! Info on “Screenings” page HERE.  次の上映はアメリカのオレゴン州 (2月21日)とオーストラリアのシドニー(2月20日)です。詳細は「上映」ページ(こちら)をご参照下さい。

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A great start

The beginning of 2018 brought to an end for me the year following the inauspicious year of the age of 42, a 3-year period which includes both the year leading into and out of it (more on that in THIS Japan Times article), but which starts counting from birth at 1, rather than 0, so you are actually one year older by this counting system.  It is a bit complicated and also depends on where you live in Japan, but the take away is, the unlucky period for me is over.  ;)  And NOT to challenge the fates, but if that was my "unlucky period", then all I can say is that I have nothing but gratitude for these last few years, and I look forward to the coming ones.


January has been a wonderful start to the New Year.  Looking at my social media over the last few weeks it seems like it has been a slow start, but I am editing a couple of projects in the background.  And already there have been some great things going on!

3 MORE YEARS
On January 16, I went to my lawyer's office to pick up my brand new 3-year visa.  I was so grateful (and relieved) after having consistently received only one-year visas since 2013 (and having to reapply every year).  

Boys for Sale music score in the Top 10
On January 19, blogger Noah Franc, who writes about Japanese cinema, published his list of "Top Ten Film Scores of 2017" for Japanese film on his "Oh Cinema" blog (LINK).  The soundtrack for "Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE), composed by the musicians known as Kazaguruma (with Jack on shamisen and Komitetsu on cello) who worked closely with director Itako, came in at number 7.
「売買ボーイズ」の音楽が、ブロガーNoah Francさんの2017年映画音楽トップ10に選ばれたよ!チームのみんな、特に作曲グループ「かざぐるま」の寂空 on 三味線と  こみてつ on チェロへおめでとう!
This unforgettable film about a little-known part of the Japanese sex trade also happens to have some of the most interesting original music scores of the year as well. Featuring a band playing an assortment of Japanese instruments, the makers of the film made the unusual choice of mixing together the actual written score with the musician’s improvisational warm-up recordings. While the band was understandably apprehensive about this, they needn’t have worried, because the end result was a remarkably fitting sound unlike anything else I heard all year.
 Italian Premier of "Boys for Sale"
Of all the niche film festivals that documentaries I have produced have screened at (Japanese, ethnographic, Asian, LGBTQ, environmental, nuclear) I have been most amused by the number of pornographic film festivals to which "Boys for Sale" has been invited.  Among these was the film's Italian Premier in Turin's Fish and Chips Erotic Film Fest on January 20 (LINK).  I have yet to attend one of these pornographic festivals, but our DOP/ producer Adrian "Uchujin" Storey attended the film's screening in the Porn Film Festival Berlin last October and wrote about it on his blog (HERE).  Not for the faint-hearted. ;)


MORE upcoming screenings
"Boys for Sale" started on the film festival circuit last May and is still going strong!  Upcoming screenings include the Mississippi Premier in the 2018 Oxford Film Festival (Feb 7-11) where it will screen on February 9 & 10 (LINK) as well as the Australian Premier in the 2018 Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras FF (Feb 15-March 1 in Sydney) where it screens February 20 at 18:30 (LINK).  Screenings still under embargo include TWO screenings on the West Coast (USA), another one in Australia and our Swiss premier!  More info on those as it becomes available on the Screenings page of the film (HERE).

Thank you all so much for your continued support an encouragement!
Much Peace to you all in 2018,
Ian
Tokyo, Japan

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 Year in Review

Thanks to the support and encouragement of so many family and friends, 2017 has been another year of humbling experiences for which I am extremely grateful.  In 2013, I began posting the year's highlights (HERE), a tradition I continued in 2014 (HERE), 2015 (HERE), and 2016 (HERE).  The highlights for 2017 are below.  Thank you all so very much for your continued support and encouragement.

Peace,
Ian

PS  As I publish this on my 42 birthday, I remember one of the most poignant birthdays I have marked; it was 2013 and I was spending the day in Fukushima where no one knew it was my birthday (READ).
_______________________________________________

 JANUARY 
"Learning to Say Goodbye", the last column I would write for magazine "5" was published (READ). It was in this column that I came out again in 2015 (STORY).  I had the honour of serving as the MC of a press conference about the "Voluntary Evacuees" of Fukushima at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (INFO), and the broadcast of my documentary "Suturing Cultures" on NHK World was announced (STORY).
FEBRUARY
The second documentary-style PR video  I directed for the Imperial Hotel (about its bars and lounges) was released (WATCH).  The Director's interview for my film "Suturing Cultures" was published (WATCH).
MARCH
Events marking the 6th anniversary of 3.11 were held.  I was honoured to serve as the MC for the press conference "Yoshiko Aoki, Fukushima storyteller" at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, and I was honoured to screen my film "A2-B-C" and take part in the post-screening discussion via Skype at the event "The Politics of Uncertainty: Reassessing Japan After the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster" arranged by the Japanese Cultural Association at Brown University (READ).  I was invited to travel to Canada to screen the work-in-progress of "Sezaruwoenai", the third film in my series about the Fukushima nuclear disaster (INFO) at "The Politics of Invisibility: Fukushima, 6 years after 3.11" (INFO) which was held at the University of British Columbia with sponsorship from the Centre for Japanese Research (INFO); a second screening was held at the Prince Takamado Japan Centre, University of Alberta and the Centre for Japanese Research, University of British Columbia (INFO).
APRIL
The third installment of the documentary-style series I directed for the Imperial Hotel Tokyo (about their tea ceremony room) was published (WATCH).  I marked one year since I live-Tweeted the reunion between a dying father and the son he had not seen in 30 years (Mr. Hata and T) by publishing the story in Japanese (INFO).

MAY
I attended the East Coast Premier of the award-winning short documentary "Acres of Diamonds", directed by Shawn Small, on which I served as one of the producers (STORY).  The World Premier of "Boys for Sale", directed by Itako and for which I served as the Executive Producer, was announced (READ).

JUNE
The World Premier for "Boys for Sale" was held in front of a sold-out crown in Germany (STORY), The North American premier of the film in LA's OUTFEST was announced (INFO), and the first of several deleted scenes was published (WATCH).
JULY
The North American premier of "Boys for Sale" was held in LA (INFO) where it was also awarded at the closing ceremony (STORY).  Part one of the documentary-style PR videos featuring the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright for the Imperial Hotel was published (WATCH).
AUGUST
More screenings of "Boys for Sale" at festivals across the world were announced (INFO).
SEPTEMBER
While even more screenings of "Boys for Sale" at festivals around the world were announced (INFO), I attended the Dutch premier of the film (STORY).
OCTOBER
I attended the UK premier of "Boys for Sale" in London's Raindance (STORY).  My NHK World-commissioned documentary "Dying at Home" was re-broadcast (INFO).  Nine more screenings of "Boys for Sale" were announced (INFO) while the film received "Best Documentary" in South Africa (STORY).  The New York premier of "Boys for Sale" was held in NewFest (STORY).

NOVEMBER
More screenings of "Boys for Sale", including the Australian premier, were announced (INFO) as was the Japan premier (INFO).  "Boys for Sale" received TWO more awards for Best Documentary in Mexico (STORY) and in Ecuador (STORY).  The Japan Times published a full page article about "Boys for Sale" (READ), and the Japan Premier of the film was standing room only (STORY).
 DECEMBER
A four-page feature about my documentary work in Japan was published by the Metropolis magazine (READ).  Part two of the documentary-style PR videos featuring the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright for the Imperial Hotel was released along with a 40-second commercial (WATCH).  I screened my documentary “Suturing Cultures” at the 9th Asian Medical Education Association Symposium cum Frontiers in Medical and Health Sciences Education 2017: “Preparing Healthcare Learners for a Changing World"  at the University of Hong Kong (STORY).

Monday, December 18, 2017

"Suturing Cultures" in Hong Kong

It is always so humbling when my films can be used for education. It was an honour to be invited by Dr Harry Wu (Medical Ethics and Humanities Unit, University of Hong Kong) to screen my documentary “Suturing Cultures” at the 9th Asian Medical Education Association Symposium cum Frontiers in Medical and Health Sciences Education 2017: “Preparing Healthcare Learners for a Changing World" last week. And it was an additional honour to join the post-screening discussion with a panel of experts including Professor Aronowitz (University of Pennsylvania), Professor Shafer (Stanford University), Dr Tinsley (University of Hong Kong) & Dr Wai (University of Hong Kong). Symposium information HERE.

My documentary "Suturing Cultures" is about 2nd year medical student at Juntendo Medical University in Tokyo learning about how to care for patients from other countries.  The documentary program was my second commission from NHK World and originally aired on February 6, 2017, with a re-broadcast on May 29 (program information HERE).

While I was in Hong Kong for several days, I had only one day where I could go out and actually see a bit of the island...and that was only because I played hooky and skipped part of the conference. ;)  It was wonderful to visit Tai O fishing village and walk around and see a bit of downtown.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Imperial Hospitality: The Wright Imperial (Part 2)

With all that has been going on recently including Boys for Sale receiving multiple awards (STORY) and being featured in the Japan Times (HERE), as well as a feature about my all of my Japanese-language documentaries in Japan being published in the Metropolis magazine (HERE), one piece of news somehow escaped my attention:  Part 2 of the piece I was commissioned to direct about American architect Frank Lloyd Wright's connection to the Imperial Hotel Tokyo was published in October (!).

The episode opens with Meiji-mura Museum researcher and archivist Nakano Yuko explaining the features of the Wright Imperial lobby which has been painstakingly preserved and reconstructed in Aichi Prefecture.  

Ms. Koike and Mr. Ishihara, both of whom worked in the building designed by Wright and who have a combined 107 years of experience working at the Imperial (!), make another appearance in Part 2.  A link to the column for Part 2 with embedded video is HERE, while a direct link to the video is below:


A link to the column for Part 1 with embedded video is HERE, while a direct link to the video is below:

As part of this project, I also directed a 40-second commercial which was first released in the summer and which now has over a half-million views!

 
As always, I would like to give a special shout out to our amazing team, including our photography/ lighting department led by DOP Matsudaira Naoyuki with Seki Masafumi and our coordinator/ producer Tanaka Sakae.  And while I composed the main theme music used throughout the entire campaign, it was brought alive by the talented musicians who arranged and played it.  The Main track, Jazz version and Wright version were led by arranger and pianist extraordinaire Onuki Yuichiro, with Tani Motoaki on bass, Adachi Hiroshi on drums and Aki Yoshihisa on violin.  The Japanese and big band versions were arranged and played by the awesome Komitetsu.
 
Links to the previous episodes I directed for the Imperial can be found below:

Imperial Hospitality (Part 1): Stories from The Imperial Floor (Nov 2016)
http://ianthomasash.blogspot.jp/2016/11/active-duty.html

Imperial Hospitality (Part 2): Stories from The Imperial’s Bars and Lounge (Feb 2017)
http://ianthomasash.blogspot.jp/2017/02/imperial-hospitality-part-2-stories.html

Imperial Hospitality (Part 3): Story from The Imperial’s “Toko-an” Tea Ceremony Room (April 2017)
http://ianthomasash.blogspot.jp/2017/04/imperial-hospitality-story-from.html