The 11th international film festival called ‘Yubari International Film Festival’ was held over the course of 5 days starting February 18th. With the invited films from overseas, lots of films by young and amateur creators were collected whether they’re well known or not. It became an impressive festival. This month’s Shift covered the festival focuses on a program called ‘Digital Cinema Presentation’ and the latest and notable animation ‘JIN-ROH’ directed by Hiroyuki Okiura, with a script by Mamoru Oshii.

“I know there’s a view that film festivals should collect only films which pass through a distribution route of films, but Japanese films have a visual technique they can be proud to the world. I think it’s meaningful to do this event called ‘Digital Cinema Presentation’ as one of the programs of a film festival, for the purpose of connecting the latest technique with audiences.” At the opening, those words were given by Yoichi Komatsuzawa, a chief producer of this film festival.

As the name shows, this event is just a ‘presentation’, not screening the finished ‘films’. Almost all of them are ‘unfinished’ previews and pilot versions. However, I found some fulfillment that I took a peep at the near future of films. If you are an ardent film fan, you might have already checked them at some events, but these films won’t be generally released. I think it’s meaningful to screen these ‘unfinished’ films at this film festival where lots of ordinary people, including tourists, come.

Those films were made with digital tools and projected. Though I’m not well informed about the digital technologies, I felt that those pictures projected on the large-scale screen were equal to ordinary movies. After the screening of all programs, lots of audiences, participants and guests were standing in a circle around the digital implements.

Now I would like to individually review the most impressive pictures.

My favorite one, ‘Heavy Rotation ‘. I would love to see it again. A bear molests children, kidnaps them and converts them into bears in a black and white world. It’s a kind of perverted story and ignores the motion picture code of ethics, but on the other hand, the bear factory is very cute. The roller belt conveyer is a smile mark and the switch bar is duck. It’s an excellent contrast to such cruel molestations. This must be a masterpiece of black humor which has a pleasant aftertaste (or simplicity like a black and white Dick Bruna).

‘DIGITALS’ (Production I.G)
It’s made entirely with CG without words like a promotional video though it always credits the production name. It’s excellent that it has an introduction, development, turn and conclusion within the short stories of 2 or 3 minutes, not just display the technology. It might be because of the director, Mamoru Oshii. I’m not sure if I can express with words the appeal of those stories, but I would try. ‘Loop ‘ features a mysterious linked story of a person who makes a doll. ‘Friends’ features an unfortunate event that happens to an alien who thinks the tower of a high-tension electric wire is a friend. ‘Heart Eater’ features an after story of a dog whose life was saved by the owner from an alien and ‘Wing’s Tree ‘ features a love story of a personified jet plane (female) and propeller plane (male). Therefore he suffers from inferiority complex against her, but one day she gets an engine trouble and he rouses himself to help her…

In addition to the above mentioned pictures, ‘R’ (Sapporo Digital Film Festival Workshop), Tekkon Kinkreet‘ (Trilogy), ‘Keikaku/Fuunden Ibun’, ‘Kuutyuu Izakaya’, ‘Chicken Hoken ni Kanyuu Kudasai’ (Studio 4 degrees) were shown.

My impression of this whole digital presentation was that the latest digital technology must change the whole process of film making (especially in terms of the production cost and labor), but I could reconfirm that the interest of film existed in good quality idea drawn by a human being, not technology. The black humor of ‘Heavy Rotation’, innocence of ‘Tekkon Kinkreet’, and story filled with humanity of ‘Digitals’. I felt the true nature was in our universal emotions, and left the hall.

Text: Shinichi Ishikawa From NUMERO DEUX
Translation: Mayumi Kaneko

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