It’s not easy for anyone to make indie films in Japan. Audiences, venues and funds are all shrinking. And if you are not Japanese, you face additional barriers of language, culture and credibility. Even if your name is the only foreign one on the credits, many will consider your film not “really” Japanese, including those with the power to decide if it will live or die in the theaters or on the festival circuit.
One who has surmounted those barriers with extraordinary tenacity and artistry is Welshman John Williams.
Starting in Nagoya in the 1990s with self-financed short films, Williams learned the craft of directing, as well as the ins and outs of the industry.
In 2001 he released his first feature film, “Ichiban Utsukushii Natsu” (“Firefly Dreams”), a sensitively told, elegantly shot drama of a rebellious teen’s friendship with an elderly former actress that recalled the glories of Japanese cinema’s Golden Age.
Williams followed this critically acclaimed debut with the moodily surreal, erotically themed noir “Starfish Hotel” (2007) and the ambitious dystopian fantasy “Arashi” (“Sado Tempest,” 2012), which is set on stormy Sado Island, is based on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and features the punk rock band Jitterbug.
All three films are screening at the Cinema Novecento in Yokohama, with “Firefly Dreams” showing Nov. 14 to 20, “Starfish Hotel” Nov. 21 to 27 and “Sado Tempest” Nov. 28 to Dec. 4.
Williams will be present to chat with fans following evening screenings on Nov. 20 and 27.
The line for aspiring non-Japanese filmmakers will be formed on the right.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.