Film Distribution in Art Houses, Japan…2/4

November 18, 2010 | No comments | Blog
After going through the hundreds of pictures to make this post, I feel that there is something totally unfair coming out of all this. Too many untold stories, too many wonderful people who fight for cinema and who might come out looking like, or even actually being losers in the end. 

They are definitely not losers!…  But the economical system might give us that impression. Even my texts on Art Houses might give this inaccurate impression that they haven’t done what they should have done. It’s never that easy in actual life, on the field, when you have to struggle to make things happen. It’s always easier to make an appreciation from a distance, once the work has been done and things have grown in an unexpected direction or another.

I therefore apologize to all of you, Japanese theater owners, managers and workers, who struggle for the survival of the Art House circuit. 

However, I feel that I need to express my view as honestly as I can, knowing perfectly well that what I propose might not please everyone or even be feasible for the great majority of the players. I need to specify that I don’t write all this because I don’t appreciate what has been done so far and what can hopefully be done for many more years to come.

If ever you are interested, I posted previously a few videos on some of the Art House theaters. If I stopped shooting on the way, it’s because I didn’t have enough time to make videos that looked good enough to my taste. Going through those pictures made me feel like coming back to tell a few stories in details later on. We will see.

As for now, I post the pictures of the places we visited, including some “CineCom”, and people who organize screenings for us. Many are missing: sorry about that.

In all those Art House Theaters, we met only passionate, movie loving people, dedicated to show quality films despite a system that doesn’t necessarily make things easy for them. There is no question about the absolute implication of those theater owners or managers: they all share the same combat in the defense of independent cinema. They eat and breathe cinema, working long hours, many of them six when it’s not seven days a week. Totally sincere and dedicated people!… I loved meeting them and discussing films, listening to their vision and understanding of the situation in the Japanese movie world. 

Their knowledge of everything concerning cinema was quite impressive: many of them had even seen and/or shown my films over the years. :-) )) I felt flattered and excited. And I must admit that it gives a meaning to all those years when you wonder if you made the right cinematographic choices…  

There was definitely something magical about all those Art Houses and the way the people all lived for cinema…

But is it enough? Is love and passion for cinema enough to make this movie distribution circuit survive in those economically depressive days?… 

Of course, I am an “outsider” and my comments might not be of any interest for the people concerned. I will still go ahead and give it a try, humbly expressing myself, just in case that it could bring a different light on the situation… After all, only few people ever had the chance to visit so many theaters and have a global vision of the state of things. And besides being an independent filmmaker, I did own a successful distribution company for twenty years in another life, so I do know a little about distributing quality films…

Unfortunately, my impression is that we are talking about a seriously “endangered species”. Unless something very drastic is done urgently, I really don’t see how most of the Art House Cinemas can survive for the next two or three years. Already some of them have closed their doors during the few months since our visit or are about to do so, unable to pay their bills… Is there a solution? Do they still fulfill a need? Can there be anything done?

I will be back with some suggestions in my next posts, hoping to bring a small contribution if I can…

Read More

Film Distribution in Art House Theater, Japan, 1/4

November 16, 2010 | No comments | Blog
Any independent filmmaker around the world is, or should be, concerned with the future of the Art House circuit as we have known it until now. Is there any future? Can we still count on this system to release our films?

This past April, and for exactly 111 days on the roads, I visited the Art Houses of Japan with Yuri, my wife and co-producer of the film for which I was executive producer, “Looking For Anne”, and with our Okinawa director, Takako Miyahira. We were on the road to make a promotional campaign for the film, and took the time to visit practically all the Art Houses left today in the 47 Prefectures of the country. We also visited several regular Multiplex Theaters where we also played our movie, and some “Community Halls” which often play movies in Japan… If you are really curious and awfully courageous, you can go to our Japanese blog : http://blog.goo.ne.jp/anne_partners/c/ac04a012b8e5b53e58b02f4ef9c2fbeb  But I tell you right away, you will find it quite confusing if you don’t read Japanese. If you used the calendar, start on April 21. Either way, you will see some pictures of Japan…

Yuri, Takako and me, in front of a radio station in Sendai…

I will write my comments and put some pictures in the next three of four posts on the subject.

Read More

WTF!!!…

August 25, 2010 | No comments | Blog

No CGI, no 3D, no blood, no ghost, no violence, no SF, no mystery, no killing, no nothing, none, nothing… WTF!!!!…

I just screened for more than an hour dozens and dozens of film trailers. Out of them, I didn’t find one single one that had anything to do with the next film I plan to shoot… Am I out of it?… Is there still an audience out there for the kind of movies that I make?… Shit!…

I look at all this stuff and I feel like David Lean (not that I want to compare myself as a filmmaker, but for the state of mind…) who had just finished “Ryan’s Daughter”, which is very close to one of the rare masterpieces of cinema history. Yet, David Lean saw “Easy Rider” at the time, and the success that it had at the box-office compare to his film. He became convinced that his days as a filmmaker were over and didn’t shoot another movie for something like ten years after that, if I remember well…

Granted that “Easy Rider” was an important and very refreshing film at the time, but it was not the only stuff that we could see on the screen overnight. There was still room for so many different types of movies…

All this to say that I’m sort of fed up with the same BS that is served over and over on the big screen. The ridiculous “Avatar” (with the same old violence), the pretentious “Inception” (with that same shitty violence for “intellectuals”), “The Sorcerer” ( with… ), “Twilight” (fuck…) Ohhhhhh… I stop before I puke. No variety whatsoever. “Terminator” over an over, for the last I don’t know how many years, in versions for kids of all ages…

I sometimes wonder what kind of stuff teenagers will screen in a few years unless they see something different then their video game replicas again and again.

I will still shoot my film, “Tender Rebels”, or whatever it’s going to be called… I will… But it sure puts a little extra pressure on my shoulders. We will have to find an original way to “sell this thing”…

Ok… Well, enough of this depressive crap! Back to work!…

Read More

“Tender Rebels” or “Autumn Breeze”?…

August 16, 2010 | No comments | Blog

I’m writing the final version, or just about, of a new script that I would like to shoot in Japan sometimes in 2011. Right now, it’s called “Tender Rebels”, but I might go back to the original title which was “Autumn Breeze”. It seems that “Autumn Breeze” translates better in Japanese than “Tender Rebels”. Personally, I prefer “Tender Rebels”, but I will have to take a few other things into consideration before making it official.

I really like the simple story, the color and texture of the world that I hope to create. The movie talks about loneliness, about the limits that are being imposed on every individual, young or old, preventing them most of the time from achieving what they would love to do. It’s a movie about two persons with practically nothing in common who nevertheless fall in love and decide to stand for what they truly believe in.

I will comeback on this when the script is completed in a few more weeks…

Read More

Surprise of my Life

August 9, 2010 | No comments | Blog

These days, I’m going through the biggest surprise of my life. I have a hard time to believe it: I am sixty years old!… Sixty years old!!!… Actually, I turned sixty over eight months ago, on December 18, 2009, but it took me all this time to realize it… Sixty fucking years old!… Can you believe that?… Me, the forever young… Sixty years old…

It does take one by surprise. You are there, having fun, enjoying life, struggling to make things happen, working like mad but in a good spirit when you suddenly discover that people see you as an old guy, treat you like one. It pisses you off at first, but comes a time when you have to look at yourself in the mirror and admit that you no longer look like a young guy, even though you feel better and stronger than when you actually were thirty.

Sakurajima.JPG

I guess everything is in the perception. That’s probably why some people dye their hair, have some lifting made on their faces or what have you. It’s true that it doesn’t feel good to be perceived or treated like an old guy. I’m not quite there yet, but I see that the time will come sooner or later. Right now, my behavior is still a bit too wild for people to know how to deal with my type. It does give me a little break. This is probably why it took me a little longer to realize and admit that I had become sixty.

I shouldn’t be so surprised to feel that way. When I was in first grade, our teacher asked us to tell her how old we would be in the year 2000. Always wanting to be the smartest, I quickly raised my hand and gave the happy answer: ” Fifty!… I will be fifty years old in the year 2000″… And as the nun started to congratulate me in front of all the class for my prompt and excellent answer, I began to cry silently at first until I bursted out loud, unable to contain my emotion. I didn’t want to explain why I was feeling so sad. Expressing it would make it even more painful. As I had just given my answer, I realized for the first time in my young life that some day I, too, would become “an old man”. No matter how much I tried to foresee how I would possibly look like, I couldn’t do it. Something inside of me was blocking the whole picture, refusing to accept an inevitable truth: we all age and die, no matter what…

Of course, death brings you closer to that reality. I already lost my two best childhood friends and was confronted despite of myself with that inevitable reality. The first one died of skin cancer at thirty-nine. He had been angry at the whole world for most of his life and was not really surprised when he came to face death. I was the one who was knocked down. His death completely changed my life and my way to go about it. The second friend died a month before my fifty ninth birthday. He didn’t hate the world, but could never deal with the idealized perception that people had of him. He had nothing to do with the man everybody saw in him and it made him unhappy for most of his life. Smoking three packs of cigarets per day among other things was his way to react. He knew too well what was to come.

I don’t know why I write all this. Perhaps it’s to say that I don’t take it. I want to live long. Very long. My dad is a healthy 87 years old and my mom is a sharp and vigorous 85 years old, which gives me the hope to go to at least 90. Since we are apparently gaining about ten years per generation these days, I can hope to live to a minimum of 100. And with my daily Qigong training for the last twelve years, I can hopefully add another ten to twenty years, which would begin to make a bit of sense as far as I’m concerned.

Qigong.JPG

Why should we die, just as we are about to understand a few things about life? Why die when things truly become enjoyable? Of course, body degradation and sickness are not fun, but are they an obligation of old age? I hope to be there to give you the answer in another sixty years…

Read More