Jury of the Montreal World Film Festival

The Montreal World Film Festival has announced that the jury of the 38th Festival will be presided by Italian actor and director Sergio Castellitto. The jury will also be made of Rachid Bouchareb (Franco-Algerian director-producer), document.write(“”); Andréanne Bournival (Quebec television programming manager), Fridirik Thor Fridriksson (Icelandic producer), Ana Torrent (Spanish actress) and Jane Zhang (Chinese pop singer and actress). (See the full press release)
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The festival has also announced that it will pay tribute to international distributor-producer Michael J. Werner, chairman of film sales of Fortissimo Films. The veteran America-born producer has been located in Hong Kong over the past two decades from where he guided the production and distribution of Asian films to markets around the world. As part of the tribute to Michael J. Werner, the Festival will show five recent films distributed and/or co-produced by Fortissimo: Tears of the Black Tiger directed by Wisit Sasanatieng (Thailand, 2000), Norwegian Wood, by Tran Ang Hung (Japan, 2010, adaptation of the famous Haruki Murakami’s novel), The Grandmaster by Wong Kar Wai (Hong Kong, 2013) and the Canadian premieres of The Great Hypnotist, by Leste Chan (China, 2014) and Black Coal, Thin Ice by Diao Yinan (China / Hong Kong, 2014), this year’s Golden Bear winner at the Berlin Film Festival. (
See the full press release)

The only large competitive festival in North America accredited by FIAPF (the International Federation of Film Producers’ Associations), the 38th Montreal World Film Festival will run from August 21 to September 1, 2014.

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L’image du mer-fleurie

Cosmos, document.write(“”); centre de l’Univers ? (Jardin avant, 2014-07-22)
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Cosmos, center of the Universe? (Front garden, 2014-07-22)
Cosmos!

Case of Kyoko, Case of Shuichi

WARNING: May contains trace of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot’s elements before seeing a movie are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.
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<a href="
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/53330/pics/Case_of_Kyoko, document.write(“”); _Case_of_Shuichi-0001.jpg” target=”“new””>“Minamisanriku, Japan, was devastated by the tsunami of March 11, 2011, with most buildings destroyed by waves of 16 metres or higher, and over half the town’s population swept away or drowned. With 90% of the town gone, there’s no “home” there anymore for former residents Kyoko and Shuichi. For psychological reasons as well: left behind were a mother and a child. What does the future hold for the living?” (Text from the Festival’s program)


Case of Kyoko, Case of Shuichi feels like two movies in one. We follow the path of two characters, Kyoko and Shuichi, who never meet but nearly intersect at the end of the movie—only because they are from the same hometown of Minamisanriku in Miyagi Prefecture. Both of them have commit some sort of ”crime” that forced them to leave their home for Tokyo, where they try to rebuilt their life. Both of them are lonely and adrift, in search for something or someone to anchor their heart. In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, they both decide to go back home, to look for the loved one they left behind (her daughter, his mother).

Kyoko is very unhappy and works as an insurance agent to support her family. The competition amongst her coworkers is fierce and she ends up having an affair with her boss (and with some customers) in order to secure her employment. When this scandalous situation is revealed, she is blamed and shamed by her family. She has to leave her hometown. Can she improve her situation or is she condemned to succumb to the same pitfall?

Shuichi accidentally killed his abusive father in order to protect his mother. After serving time in a juvenile detention center, he finds a job in a small factory in Tokyo. He makes friends and slowly finds acceptance and redemption.

Case of Kyoko, Case of Shuichi is the fifth movie directed by actor Eiji Okuda (his first movie as director, Sh?jo (2001), and his third movie, A Long Walk (2006), were shown at the Montreal Film Festival). He likes small budget movies and instead of hiring big-name actors (probably to save money), the two main roles are played by his daughter (Sakura Ando) and son-in-law (Tasuku Emoto) — I am wondering if it is easier or harder to direct your own daughter; the quality of the performance is the same anyway it seems. The director was present at the festival but had unfortunately left by the time I screened the movie so I missed the opportunity to see him. The theatre was a little more than half full.

It is a good movie with nice photography and an introspective subject that succeeds nevertheless to capture the attention of the viewer. It reminds me a little of Claude Lelouch’s A man and a women: we expect Kyoko and Shuichi to meet in the end, but they don’t. However, it seems that they are destined to meet. We can only hope that they eventually do.

For more impression on this movie, I suggest reading Mark Schilling’s review in The Japan Times.
Case of Kyoko, Case of Shuichi (????????? / Kyoko to Shuichi no baai): Japan, 2013, 135 min.; Dir. & Scr.: Eiji Okuda; Phot.: Takahiro Haibara; Ed.: Manabu Shinoda; Mus.: Hibiki Inamoto; Prod.: Takahito Obinata, Miyako Kobayashi; Cast: Sakura Ando, Tasuku Emoto, Soko Wada, Ena Koshino, Takanori Takeyama, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Mitsuru Hirata. Film screened at the Montreal World Film Festival on August 29th, 2013 (Cinema Quartier Latin 12, 19h00) as part of the “ Focus on World Cinema” segment.
For more information you can visit the following websites:
Case of Kyoko, Case of Shuichi © 2013 Zero Pictures

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The Kiyosu Conference

WARNING: May contains trace of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot’s elements before seeing a movie are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.
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“In 1582, document.write(“”); before the unification of Japan, Nobunaga Oda was forced to take his own life at Honno-ji Temple during a violent revolt led by Mitsuhide Akechi. Following Oda’s death, the powers in Japan held the Kiyosu Conference — the “conference that changed the course of history” — to resolve the Oda clan’s succession of leadership and redistribute Mitsuhide Akechi’s territories. Hideyoshi Toyotomi, Nagahide Niwa and Tsuneoki Ikeda meet to decide on a successor. The conference would become Japan’s first group-made political decision. In this film, director Koki Mitani, known especially for his comedies, gives us his unique interpretation of the intricate web of human relationships involved in this process as the brave general Katsuie Shibata and Hideyoshi Hashiba, who would later unify Japan, engage in a battle of wits, deceit and bargaining.” (Text from the Festival’s program)


The Kiyosu Conference is the 6th feature film by Koki Mitani, a director mostly known for his modern-day comedies (Suite Dreams [reviewed in PA #90: 74] and The Magic Hour were both shown at the Montreal World Film Festival in 2006 and 2008, respectively). It is his first attempt at a historical epic. It tells the story of what’s considered as the first political meeting of Japanese history. After the death of Nobunaga Oda in 1582, all the Oda clan power players (Katsuie Shibata, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, Nagahide Niwa, Tsuneoki Ikeda) agree to meet at the Kiyosu Castle in order to discuss his succession. Ensues a series of political intrigues, romances and plot twists which, added to the sheer number of characters (the leaders, their vassals and retainers, all with long Japanese names), makes it rather complicated to recount the whole story (for that the synopsis in the Festival’s program [above] is doing a good job).

You might think that such a serious and complex subject would be boring, but Mitani draws into his experience to create comic relief at regular intervals, so the movie carries a consistant light tone. I was actually quite surprised: I was expecting a historical saga and found what could be considered a comedy (somewhere in the movie there’s even a guy wearing a Groucho Marx moustache!). Some critics have seen in the movie a political satire, but I think it is simply the result of the awkward mix of drama and comedy that can often be found in Japanese movies.

All in all, The Kiyosu Conference is a powerful movie with an all-star cast. It is well-made (although a bit long), offer nice photography and an entertaining story that teaches us about Japanese history. In the end it is a very good movie experience (the theatre was a little more than half full). I would recommend you to see it if you can, but like most Japanese movies screened at the festival it is unfortunately not yet available in English (even one year later). If you want more comments on this movie I would recommend you to read also the reviews in The Japan Times and The Hollywood Reporter.
Kiyosu Kaigi ( ???? / The Kiyosu Conference ): Japan, 2013, 138 min.; Dir. & Scr.: Koki Mitani (based on his own novel); Mus.: Kiyoko Ogino; Phot.: Hideo Yamamoto; Ed.: Soichi Ueno; Prod. Des.: Yohei Taneda; Cost. Des.: Kazuko Kurosawa; Cast: Koji Yakusho (Katsuie Shibata), Yo Oizumi (Hideyoshi Toyotomi), Fumiyo Kohinata (Nagahide Niwa), Koichi Sato (Tsuneoki Ikeda), Satoshi Tsumabuki, Tadanobu Asano, Susumu Terashima, Denden, Kenichi Matsuyama, Yusuke Iseya, Kyoka Suzuki, Miki Nakatani, Ayame Goriki, Minosuke Bandou, Kenji Anan, Shinpei Ichikawa, Shota Sometani, Eisuke Sasai, Keiko Today, Zen Kajiwara, Catherine Seto, Yoshimasa Kondo, Kazuyuki Asano, Kankuro Nakamura, Yuki Amami, Toshiyuki Nishida; Distr.: Pony Canyon Intl. Film screened at the Montreal World Film Festival on August 28th, 2013 (Cinema Quartier Latin 9, 19h00) as part of the “World Great” segment (Out of Competition).
For more information you can visit the following websites:

The Kiyosu Conference © 2013 Fuji TV / Toho

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L’image du chat-medi

La maman chat-de-gouttière est de retour avec ses trois minous!
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The alley cat mother is back with her three kittens!
(cour arrière / backyard, document.write(“”); 7/24/2014)
She's baaack!
UntitledUntitled

Mourning recipe

WARNING: May contains trace of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot’s elements before seeing a movie are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.
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“When Ryohei’s wife, document.write(“”); Otomi, suddenly passes away, Ryohei is deeply depressed, without the strength to live. Two weeks after her death, a woman visits Ryohei and gives him a recipe book which was left by Otomi, a “recipe book” for a happy life. Meanwhile, Ryohei’s daughter Yuriko comes to visit him. Yuriko’s own marriage is about to end in divorce and she will have use for Otomi’s “recipe book”.” (Text from the Festival’s program)


This movie is the second adaptation of Yuki Ibuki’s book of the same title. It was her second novel (published in february 2010, it has unfortunately not been translated into english yet) and, as it quickly became a bestseller, it was first adapted into a four-episode television drama which aired on NHK between February 15 and March 8, 2011.

The important cultural element behind the story is that, in Japanese Buddhism (and Mahayana Buddhism in general), after the funeral (which occurs three or seven days after death) there’s another important ceremony held after seven weeks, on the 49th day. It seems that mourning is a slow process in Japan: it starts with preparing the body, changing the deceased’s name, holding a wake, then there’s the funeral and the cremation, followed by weekly praying and offering. Little by little, as it performs a kind of “karmic introspection”, the deceased’s spirit is moving away from the physical world until it is completely free from it. Then it achieves awakening (or enlightenment), which is a profound understanding of reality. The 49th day ceremony has for purpose to support the deceased in this transition into a new life and to celebrate it. Interestingly, this slow process also allows to mourners to get used to their loved one’s departure and this is this specific aspect that is the subject of the movie.

When Ryohei’s wife died, he was devastated. However, Otomi knew that her passing would deeply affect her family, particularly her husband, so she prepared an illustrated guide book for them. The handwritten recipe book is proposing activities (like cooking, cleaning and the basics of house keeping) for every day of the seven weeks of mourning, culminating with a big party for the family and friends! Otomi had been volunteering at the “Ribbon House”, a rehabilitation center for teenagers with difficulties, where she was teaching cooking and housework. She asked one of her students, Imoto “Imo” Sachie (a tanned blond with lots of make-up and weird clothing), to bring the book to her family. She does more than that as she stays to help, along with her Japanese-Brazilian friend Harumi (Haru aka Carlos Yabe).

At the same time, Ryohei’s daughter Yuriko (her mother died when she was a kid and Otomi was her step-mother) is depressed: she’s childless and her fertility treatment failed, she has to take care of her mother-in-law and she discovers that her husband is having an affair! She decides to leave her husband and go back home to help her father. She finds him already in good company. So, altogether with Imo and Haru, despite many difficulties, she’s helping her father going through the mourning recipes—which reveals being beneficial for everybody.

The story is a little complex to tell in more details than that, but it was a superb feel-good movie (a family drama with humour). The storytelling was beautiful, the acting excellent, it makes you think about how to live your life and, on top of it, it was quite entertaining. A good Japanese movie will always make you laugh or cry, and I did both so that makes Mourning Recipe an excellent movie. It was a popular screening since the theatre was packed (although it was a terribly tiny room with a capacity around one-hundred-fifteen, with no central alley and a floor with minimal angle, so the viewing experience was not optimal). It was the best movie I had seen so far at the festival last year. It is really worth seeing (unfortunately it seems to be available on dvd only in Japanese version).
Shijuukunichi no Reshipi ( ???????? / lit. “Recipe of 49 Days” / Mourning Recipe ): Japan, 2013, 130 min.; Dir.: Yuki Tanada; Scr.: Hisako Kurosawa (based on a novel by Yuki Ibuki); Phot.: Ryuto Kondo; Ed.: Ryuji Miyajima; Mus.: Yoshikazu Suo; Cast: Renji Ishibashi, Masaki Okada, Fumi Nikaidô, Hiromi Nagasaku, Taizo Harada; Distrib.: Gaga Corp. Film screened at the Montreal World Film Festival August 28th, 2013 (Cinema Quartier Latin 11, 16h30) as part of the “Focus on World Cinema” segment.
For more information you can visit the following websites:
Mourning Recipe © 2013 “Mourning Recipe” Film Partners

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L’image du mer-fleurie

Criquet sur un oeillet d’Inde (2014-07-22)
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Grasshopper on a French marigold (2014-07-22)
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/clodjee/14535333398&quot; target="“new”" title="Grasshopper on Tagetes by Clodjee Pelletier, document.write(“”); on Flickr”>Grasshopper on Tagetes