Aichi Women's Film Festival: September 6-10
Monday, August 28, 2006 Posted: 06:40 PM JST
(by Jean Miyake Downey) - Again, I am marveling at how international independent films are opening up so many diverse, personal, brilliant, and creative perspectives on our world. Just a few years ago, journalism scholars expressed concern that the implosion of foreign news bureaus and dumbing down of mainstream media might result in less and worse international news coverage. However, the internet and independent films seem to have circumvented this dire possibility.
Instead, we have the opposite situation, at least for elite people who have internet and independent film access -- a profusion of information and views that go way beyond the mid-twentieth-century "sixth-grade level" news model. Finally! Now, if we can only further democratize access to emerging media...
The Aichi Women's Film Festival runs from September 6 to September 10, with an excellent international selection of films. The program is mostly affirmative, with a broad vision of what constitutes women's issues -- all of life. Many of the films focus on family love and strength.
All of the upbeat films are recent and the festival also includes some dark films from the late 60's and early 70's, including Eros + Massacre, the film biography of anarchist and "free love" advocate Osugi Sakae, assassinated by the Japanese military in 1923, retelling his relationships with three women, including Masaoka Itsuko, a militant feminist who attempts to murder him in a tea house in 1916.
The documentary, Emmanuel's Gift, features a man, a Ghanaian athlete with an artificial leg who made a pilgrimage of encouragement by bicycle. While the style of the film itself received mixed reviews by critics who commented on its over-sentimentality and failure to inquire into why Emmanuel and ten percent of the 20 million people in Ghana are disabled, the protagonist's true story was broadly acclaimed.
Other titles include Sepet by Malaysian filmmaker Yasmin Ahmad, (who has a beautiful blog, The Storyteller. I couldn't open the film's official website, but I found information at Wiley Chin's engaging blog, the Lab, with a great summary, photos of scenes with commentary:
I am not doing a review but I am going to dig a bit into the movie. I think what Yasmin has done in terms of political and race relations analysis and commentaries is unparalelled in Malaysia. She got away with very deft nuances which I think the censorship board might not have picked up. But that's her art. The only other Malaysian works I've seen that use this art as effectively was Mat Som by Lat. The comic strip, not the movie. To an extend, Lat's Town Boy can be seen as a precursor of Sepet. I am sure Yasmin was inspired by the storyline and exploration of the cultural identity of 'the Other' in Lat's Town Boy.
If you hate movies to be taken apart, don't read beyond this line.
I like Yasmin's treatment of a difficult Malaysian theme. I will try to reveal the beauty of the symbolic story-telling as I could see them. But this is not comprehensive. If I am inspired and if I do find the time, I hope to write a proper critique of this rare but successful attempt at engaging a theme not done before in Malaysian movies.
Surface Theme: A Love That Transcends Racial and Cultural Barriers.
Undercurrent Theme: The Chinese migrant's story of failed adoption of his new homeland. The struggle of a prototypical economic migrant in his attempt to achieve union with his adopted homeland and the shadow of his past that prevents him from consummating the relationship.
The story weaves together an emphatic story about the struggle of a migrant race in Malaysia and their attempt to breakaway, to reinvent themselves, to redefine who they are in relation to their adopted land, beyond the long shadow of history, cultural confines & socio-political lines that force them to take on their limiting identity, roles and ultimately their meaning of existence and destiny.
Plot: A Chinese boy falling in love with a Malay girl goes through a series of events that ends 'tragically'.
Dutch filmmaker Mischa Kamp's Winky's Horse tells the story of a little Chinese girl, Winky Wong, who lives in a seaside town in the Netherlands, dealing with cross-cultural issues and the profound issues of childhood.
Six-year-old Winky was struggling to adjust herself to a new life in a different culture, when she found Saint Nicholas might give her what she really wanted…
There are several great Japanese films playing, including Nobue Miyazaki's An Unknown Woman: the Life of Ishii Fudeko-, a documentary that follows the life of Fudeko Ishii, a pioneer of women's education in Japan and an advocate for the mentally disabled.
Also included are Japanese-American psychologist Satsuki Ina's lyrical and moving From a Silk Cocoon, featured earlier this year at iKjeld.com, and her first film, Children of the Camps, about the 60,000 children who were incarcerated (over half the total population of 120,000) in Japanese-American concentration camps and what life was like for them afterwards, struggling to deal with the psychological wounding of growing up in overcrowded military barracks, behind barbed wire, with armed soldiers watching them.
Jean Miyake Downey is a contributing editor at the Kyoto Journal: Perspectives on Asia (www.kyotojournal.org), an award-winning English-language quarterly published in Kyoto, Japan. She covers multicultural and transnational issues. Drawing on her background as a sociologist and lawyer, she takes an interdisciplinary look at the nexuses between historical and contemporary hybridity and fusion; global cultural trauma and historical healing; the revival and survival of traditional and indigenous cultures; and global human rights movements.
Keywords: arts_entertainment culture_news
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