• Staff Writer


Name: Georgina Pope
Nationality: Australian
Occupation: Film worker
Likes: Sunny days, empty beaches
Dislikes: Crowded art galleries, nattō (fermented soybeans)

1. What first brought you to Japan? A love of Japanese cinema.

2. What’s keeping you here? A love of cinema from every corner of the world and the chance to work with some of the best film makers on the planet. They all wind up here at some stage.

3. When you think of Japan, you think of … maiko in colourful kimono tiptoeing around puddles in Gion side streets with cherry blossom petals fluttering around.

4. Whom in Japan do you most admire? Sister Yoshibayashi, head of the St. Francis Home for Children. She looks after 50 kids between 0 and 18 years old, giving them individual attention, love, and space to grow and explore. And she always has a smile on her face.

5. Where do you go to escape Tokyo? Shimoda! I love lazy summer weekends swimming in the ocean and lounging on the beach catching up on scripts, being transported to other worlds.

6. What’s your favorite Japanese word or phrase?ARAMA!” It’s what you say when you bump into a client or colleague somewhere dodgy!

7. What’s your favorite phrase in any language?Seiten no heki-reki” (“A bolt from the blue”). I like a good surprise and it has a lovely ring to it.

8. You’re involved in producing “J-Flicks” on NHK World. What is your favorite Japanese movie of all time? I love “High and Low” (Akira Kurosawa, 1963). It’s a police procedural but with a gravitas and pacing that gives it a weight and depth to the tune of a Shakespearean tale. I also love Juzo Itami’s “The Funeral.” It made me realize that if you gather your friends and colleagues, write great real characters and use your resources, you can make a huge sweeping drama for not a lot of money.

9. Name your favorite Japanese actor/actress of all time. What in particular do you like about him/her? Too hard, too many. I adore Tsutomu Yamasaki, who happens to appear in both the above films, decades apart. He brings an empathy to every role. I think that Fumi Nikaido is a mega talent, I love Mitsuko Baisho and, of course, Rinko Kikuchi. These three actresses are all so strong and all have a way of drawing you into their characters’ dramas.

10. Name one role in film you would love to play as an actress? Wild horses couldn’t drag me in front of the cameras.

11. You founded a film production company called Twenty First City in 1991. What was the inspiration behind the name? Tokyo is the iconic megalopolis of the future, of the 21st century.

12. What difficulties did you experience getting Twenty First City off the ground? Initially, it was hard to be taken seriously but, looking back, I was a kid blundering along, making it up as I went. It amazes me (to think that) we have been around for 25 years.

13. Any memorable moments during production over the years that you can recall? Oscar-winning cinematographer Bob Richardson sitting in a bucket crane high over a busy crossing, no permit and having to distract the boys in blue from looking up. There were some mighty interesting moments on other films but not for this publication …

14. If you had to choose one film location in Tokyo that represents the city in a single scene, what would it be? O-Gard crossing in Nishi-Shinjuku, with the Yamanote train sweeping through the foreground and glimmering Yasukuni-dori in the background.

15. Which location is most popular with producers looking for a place to shoot scenes in Japan? (Tokyo’s) Shibuya Crossing! Some days I feel like it is my office.

16. What’s the strangest request you’ve ever been asked in your line of work? Too many to name … but I did enjoy casting granny and grandpa porn stars for Gaspar Noe’s “Enter The Void.” Who knew?

17. What song best describes your work ethic? Is there a song called “She Works Like a Dog?”

18. What do you think about while standing on the train? What train? I get around town on my trusty mamachari (literally, mom’s bike). And I am very fond of Tokyo taxis, I run the empire from the back seat, learnt Japanese from the drivers and enjoy gazing at the city spinning by.

19. What do you want to be when you grow up? A movie director.

20. Do you have any words of advice for young people? Work hard, play harder. Love what you do.

For more information on Twenty First City, visit www.twentyfirstcity.com.

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