Shinsedai Special Report #3: Wrap-up

Wrap up?  Wait a second, so what happened on all of the other days of the festival, you’re asking yourself.  Well, as mentioned last report, I recorded reviews of the films with Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow’s Marc Saint-Cyr.  In fact, we recorded over five hours of drunken rambling and pontificating about symbolism, third acts, and wire work (just kidding about the latter).  I’ve also gotten interviews with two of the directors who were special guests, Momoko Ando and Yasunobu Takahashi.  In Momoko’s interview, we primarily talk about her film Kakera: A Piece of Our Life but also look at aspects of biculturalism and being a female in a traditionally male-dominated field.  In Yasunobu’s interview we talk about his film Locked Out as well as his take on the Japanese independent scene where he’s been cutting his teeth for the over a decade.  The latter topic might especially interest film buffs because it’s a world that is often overlooked because the studios (Toho, Toei, Nikkatsu, etc) have dominated for so long that it’s easy to forget that there’s some sort of indie scene going on in Japan.

Far from this being just a “look forward to it” post, let me give you my honest impressions of the festival.  I will say up front that I am now friends with most of the people involved with the festival from the planners to volunteers, but that doesn’t necessarily change what I have to say.  Perhaps it is my DIY punk ethics speaking here, but I honestly believe that it is smaller festivals such as Shinsedai that can really make a difference in the film scene.  Now, by saying so, I’m not knocking larger festivals, but can you imagine being able to sit next to a director while watching his or her film, then being able to hang out, talk, and interact with him or her in a meaningful way?  In punk, it’s likewise not a big deal to hang out with bands after the show, have a beer, and trade contact information.  Thus, to be able to sit down and have a beer with someone like Japanese indie powerhouse Gen Takahashi and directly express how much his film moved you is truly an experience that transcends autographs, pictures, and handshakes.

What was even more exciting was seeing the filmmakers themselves interfacing with each other.  At several points during the festival, you could see and hear the directors networking, throwing out ideas, and generally having both an entertaining and enlightening time with each other.  In the case of Shinsedai 2010, it was an interesting dynamic of  a veteran like Gen Takahashi paired with younger filmmakers who undoubtedly learned some valuable lessons from their senpai.

In all, a great second year for Shinsedai.  Bring on Shinsedai 2011!

VCinema final wrap-up podcasts will be released in the near future.