Tuesday, September 10, 2019

"Sending Off" premiers in Japan

国立映画アーカイブで行われるぴあフィルムフェスティバルにて「おみおくり〜Sending Off〜」の日本初上映無事に終了。

患者様、そのご家族、今田先生とそのチームの方 にかんしゃしています 特に昨夜いらっしゃていただいたみなさま:
今田かおる先生
遠藤様ご家族、特に吉夫様、くみ子様
映画には登場していませんが、畑様のごしそく、とうご たから様

I am so grateful to have held the Japan Premier of “Sending Off” in front of a full house of 300 people on the opening day of the Pia Film Festival at the National Film Archive of Japan on Saturday afternoon!



 
 
And I am thrilled that during the post-screening Q&A the audience could hear directly from Dr. Kaoru Konta and Mr. and Mrs. Endo. 

The son of Mr. Hata, Takara Togo also joined me on stage to share another part of Mr. Hata’s powerful story: when I helped reunite them after 30 years just a few weeks before Mr. Hata’s death  (READ). As we talked about that powerful weekend, I shared excerpts from my photo documentary about their reunion on the screen behind us. 

 


The evening ended with 35 of us- documentary subjects, film crew and a few special supporters- sharing a meal and drinks together. I am just so very grateful to all of the families who allowed me to document their stories during some of the most difficult times in their lives and to all of those who came out to share in that story and support us.


I am now in the US where "Sending Off" will hold the North American Premier outside in the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival on Sunday, September 15 (INFO).



Meanwhile, the Guam Premier of "Sending Off" in the Guam International Film Festival has also just been announced! Taking place at the Guam Museum, the screening will be Saturday, October 12 at 7:30PM and will be followed by a full 60 minute Q&A (INFO)!  I also have been invited to take part in a Filmmaker Forum to discuss culture and media which will be recorded for broadcast on PBS Guam (KTGF Channel 12).

This is the second time I have had the honour of attending the 2013 edition of GIFF where I had the extreme honour of receiving the Grand Jury Award "Best of Festival" award for my documentary “A2-B-C” (STORY).

Thank you all so very much for your support and encouragement.

Peace,
Ian

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

ショッキング、扇情的、または過度に暴力的 Shocking, sensational, or excessively violent content

Facebook has banned the trailer of “Sending Off” from being used in advertising. Of course, only after taking my money for a couple of weeks of running the ad...
Facebookにおいて「おみおくり~Sending Off~」の予告編が広告利用禁止にされました。
しかも利用料だけはちゃっかり取った上で。

I am no stranger to controversy when it comes to my films: long-time readers of this blog may remember when all domestic screenings of my documentary "A2-B-C", about children living in Fukushima, were abruptly canceled by the distributor in 2015.  But unlike the less than measured response I took then (STORY), this time I decided to try to use this as an opportunity to start a positive discussion.  After all, they say "there is no such thing as bad publicity".

So I decided to replace the video with a "Facebook-friendly" version of the trailer (below) and resubmit it for ad approval.  I am still waiting a reply to the appeal, with the Japanese Premier that I am trying to promote just 10 days away...

広告利用禁止にされた予告編ビデオを入れ替えました。おみおくり~Sending Off~」の日本初上映が9月7日ですが、Facebookから広告の復活許可を早く貰えると良いですが...

Message from the director:

"The trailer to this documentary, depicting images of the elderly passing away, has been disapproved by Facebook for advertising. Death is hard to talk about, let alone watch, but thinking about how we want to die has the potential to change the way we live."

監督からのメッセージ

「このドキュメンタリーの予告編は、ご高齢の方がお亡くなりになる描写が含まれていますが、Facebookの判断により、残念ながら広告映像として認めて頂くことができませんでした。死を語ることや、それを見届けることは大変辛いことです。ですが、我々自身がどのような死を迎えたいかを考えることは、自身のこれからの生き方にも変化をもたらす可能性を秘めているのではないでしょうか。」
The Japan Premier of “Sending Off” will take place on September 7 at 14:30 during the Pia Film Festival at the National Film Archive of Japan.  Screening with English subtitles (INFO).

「おみおくり~Sending Off~」9月7日14時30分より、国立アーカイブにて行われる 
ぴあフィルムフェスティバル において、英語字幕付き日本初上映。詳細はこちら。  

And for those would have not seen the original trailer but would like to, the link is below.
予告編元バージョン:


Monday, August 26, 2019

North American and Dutch Premiers of "Sending Off" announced


「おみおくり~Sending Off~」が北アメリカ初上映とオランダ初上映となることを、皆さんにお伝えでき、とても嬉しいです。どちらの映画祭にも出席しますので、みなさんとそちらでお会いできるといいな。

I am thrilled to announce the North American premier of “Sending Off” (film website HERE) in the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival in Massachusetts, USA, on Sunday, September 14 (INFO), and the Dutch Premier in Camera Japan in Rotterdam, Holland, on Saturday, September 28 (INFO). 

And I am honoured to be able to be in attendance at both.
I first had the honour to screen at and attend the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival in 2013 with my film "A2-B-C" (2013) STORY, and I am thrilled to screen there again this year.

at the 2013 edition of the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival
Camera Japan (CJ) in Holland is the only festival to have have screened four (and with "Sending Off, now five) of my films (list below, which includes "Boys for Sale" on which I served as Executive Producer).  I attended the festival for the first time in 2017 where I had a wonderful time (STORY).

"In the Grey Zone" (CJ 2012)
"A2-B-C" (CJ 2013)
"-1287" (CJ 2015)
"Boys for Sale" (dir: ITAKO) (CJ 2017)
"Sending Off" (2019)

Monday, August 12, 2019

"Sending Off" to be featured on NHK WORLD TV program "J-FLICKS"

Ahead of the Japan Premier of my new feature documentary「おみおくり〜Sending Off〜」(WEBSITE) at the National Film Archive of Japan on the opening day of the Pia Film Festival on September 7 (STORY), I have some exciting news: the film (and I!) will be featured on TOMORROW'S (Aug 13) episode of the NHK World Japan program "J-FLICKS"!

It is a huge honour to have my work featured on a television program with the tagline:
Japanese cinema in-depth! The latest info on the best of Japanese cinema, from blockbuster to indie, stars, film festivals, interviews and insights!
This month's episode is called "Focus on Nippon Connection 2019", which is about the film festival in Germany where 「おみおくり〜Sending Off〜」held the World Premier and received the Nippon Docs Award (Audience Award for Best Documentary) (Story HERE).  This is the synopsis of the episode:  
Taking place every early summer in Frankfurt is the world's largest festival dedicated to Japanese cinema, Nippon Connection, which was held for the 19th year this June. On this episode of J-FLICKS, we present a film that received a Special Mention by the Nippon Visions Jury at the festival, "BLUE HOUR," directed by Yuko Hakota. We also look at Kensei Takahashi's "Sea," winner of the Nippon Visions Jury Award. And joining us in the studio as a special guest is Mr. Ian Thomas Ash, director of "Sending Off," a documentary that won the festival's Nippon Docs Award.
For exact broadcast times, please see the J-FLICKS website, which displays the air times for the zone in which it is accessed (WEBSITE).

Outside of Japan, the program can be viewed on the NHK World Japan channel, app (this one HERE) and website (watch LIVE HERE); inside Japan, it can be viewed on the website and app. After the August 13 air date, the episode will be available to watch for free On Demand (watch On Demand HERE), and it will also be rebroadcast on September 9.

Back on June 21, the day of the studio recording, this is what I posted on social media:
Huge honour to have my documentary work featured during today’s taping of NHK WORLD-JAPAN program dedicated to Japanese film J-Flicks for their special episode “Focus on Nippon Connection - Japanese Film Festival“ with presenter Sarah Macdonald and studio guest Rob Schwartz, who is Asia Bureau Chief for Billboard magazine. While discussing my film “Sending Off”, which is about end-of-life care in Japan, Rob revealed that his father was Morrie Schwartz of “Tuesdays With Morrie” and presented me with a copy of the book. I have chills- my mother had given me a copy before she died but I had never been been able to bring myself to read it. It must be more than a coincidence that Rob had already been booked as a guest when they decided to feature my documentary. I am so grateful. Episode airs August 13 and September 10.



Thursday, August 01, 2019

Japan Premier of "Sending Off" announced!

「おみおくり〜Sending Off〜」日本初上映9月7日 in ぴあフィルムフェスティバル! さっすがに「カッコいい女編」Dr. 今田かおる! 

Following the successful World Premier of my new feature-length documentary "Sending Off" in Germany in May where I had the honour of receiving the Audience Award for Best Documentary (STORY), I am happy to be able announce the Japan Premier today as the press embargo has just been lifted.

Taking place on Saturday, September 7, on the opening day of the Pia Film Festival (PFF) which will be held at the National Film Archive of Japan (INFO and TICKETS HERE), "Sending Off" will be screening in a specially curated section of films that all feature "Cool Women", which is so fitting for the amazing Dr. Kaoru Konta and her team of nurses whose work I had the honour of documenting.

Six years ago, the Japan premier of my documentary "A2-B-C" was also held on the opening day of PFF (STORY).  I am extremely grateful to the festival and its director, Araki Keiko, whose support for "A2-B-C" helped to jump-start my filmmaking career in Japan... which then literally changed my life.
with PFF director Araki Keiko in 2013

〜 〜 〜 〜 〜 ADDED August 11〜 〜 〜 〜 〜 

We have made a flyer to go with the cute programmes that just arrived from the festival.  We will do our best to get the word out and to have a great turn out at the screening.  Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

"Sending Off" awarded at World Premier in Germany

After spending the weekend before last outside of Berlin on the farm of dear friends for some much-needed rest and relaxation, last week on Monday I flew to Trier, Germany, to attend a screening of 「売買ボーイズ」"Boys for Sale" at the Universität Trier (INFO) where the post-screening discussion was lively and went late into the night.
On my friend's farm
With moderator Jun.-Prof. Dr. Ronald Saladin
Universität Trier

On Tuesday, I moved on to Frankfurt to attend the 2019 Nippon Connection Film Festival where the World Premier of my new feature-length documentary「おみおくり〜Sending Off〜」(WEBSITE) was to be held.  I was joined in Frankfurt by my father and Dr. Kaoru Konta, the physician whose amazing home care practice I documented.


During the week at Nippon Connection, I tried to see as many of the films in the newly established Nippon Docs competition as possible, and it was a fascinating look at the styles, trends and topics covered by some of the biggest documentaries coming out of Japan this year.  One of the most impressive was "Tower of the Sun" by director Sekine Kosai, a spectacular big-budget extravaganza about the artist Okamoto Taro co-produced by documentary giants Parco and Spoon.  Another was a beautifully researched historical film called "Boy Soldiers: the Hidden War in Okinawa" by directors Mikami Chie and Oya Hanayo produced by the powerful entities Documentary Japan and Tofoo Films and which has been a massive commercial hit in Japan.

In between watching the documentaries, I also enjoyed some narrative features in the Nippon Visions program, mostly films by young up-and-coming directors. One particularly impressive film was "Sea" directed by Takahashi Kensei. The film stands on its own as a startling and beautiful debut, but when you learn that Takahashi is a 23 year old student and that this was his graduation film, you have no choice but to be in awe. And it is no wonder that at the closing ceremony Takahashi was bestowed with the Nippon Vision Award by the jury.

Screening more than 100 films, Nippon Connection is the largest festival of Japanese film in the world- including Japan! And attending Nippon Connection is a kind of homecoming for me; I had the honour of attending the festival in 2013 with my documentary "A2-B-C" (for which I received the Nippon Vision Award STORY), and in 2015 with my film "-1287" (for which I received the Nippon Visions Audience Award STORY).  I also attended in 2017 with 「売買ボーイズ」"Boys for Sale" on which I served as producer (STORY).

The screening of 「おみおくり〜Sending Off〜」took place on Friday afternoon (INFO) and the post-screening discussion with the audience was electric. While film festival audiences often have the opportunity to hear from filmmakers, it is rare for them to be able to ask questions directly to the people whose stories have been documented, so having Dr. Konta present made the screening particularly special. We recorded the Q&A, and I hope to be able to find some time soon to edit and share it.

In the meantime, I will share the interview I did for the festival blog, called Guest in Focus: Ian Thomas Ash, The Balance between Observation and Empathy while filming Death (STORY).


On Saturday morning, the attending filmmakers had their individual portraits taken as well as a group photo outside the Naxoshalle theatre, one of the charming festival locations that provides a place for Nippon Connection's warmth, energy and hospitality to flourish.

In the afternoon, I had the great honour of speaking on the panel "Outlaws and Outsiders in Japanese Cinema"  led by moderator Luk van Haute (INFO) alongside legendary film directors Nobuhiro Yamashita and Shinya Tsukamoto, who was at the festival to receive the Nippon Honour Award (a lifetime achievement recognition).


Last night was the closing ceremony of the festival where the recipients of the awards were announced.  In addition to the Nippon Visions and Nippon Cinema awards, this year was the first time for documentaries to be in a separate competition.  But rather than being decided by a jury, the winner was determined by popular public vote with theatre-goers scoring films after the screenings, making the prize an Audience Award (more on the description of the category and award from the Nippon Connection website is below).

When 「おみおくり〜Sending Off〜」was announced as the recipient of the 2019 Nippon Docs Award, I was grateful, thrilled and humbled.  And the responsibility I felt for securing a wide release of the film and to ensure that it is seen by as many people as possible so that Dr. Konta's story can inspire people all over the world was redoubled. 

My only regret is that Dr. Konta herself could not be present as she had returned to Japan that morning to continue her important work caring for patients.
PHOTO: © Jumpei Tainaka/ NC19
PHOTO: © Jumpei Tainaka/ NC19
PHOTO: © Jumpei Tainaka/ NC19
PHOTO: © Jumpei Tainaka/ NC19
Today, my father and I have flown to Krakow, Poland, where we will stay for several days.

Thank you all so very much for your support and encouragement over these years.

Peace and Gratitude,
Ian Thomas Ash
Krakow, Poland
June 3, 2019

-----------------------------------------------------

From the Nippon Connection website:

Should documentary be considered its own genre? Is there a clearly-defined boundary between documentary and fiction film? Among film scholars, questions like these can be discussed almost without end. In any case, documentary films broaden our horizon, they take us to foreign cultures or to social environments that we hardly ever get to see. Yet, they can also bring us closer to people like the ones we meet daily, so that we will discover something new in the familiar or start reflecting on old habits. The NIPPON DOCS section gathers a series of Japanese documentaries on various topics of high social relevance.

For the first time, the NIPPON DOCS section will have its own audience award this year. The NIPPON DOCS AWARD is endowed with 1,000 €. (LINK)

All of the 2019 Award Winners (LINK)

Nippon Cinema Award 2019
Fly Me To The Saitama by Hideki TAKEUCHI

Nippon Visions Audience Award 2019
Melancholic by Seiji TANAKA

Nippon Visions Jury Award 2019
Sea by Kensei TAKAHASHI

The Nippon Visions Jury's Special Mention:
Blue Hour by Yuko HAKOTA

Nippon Docs Award 2019
Sending Off by Ian Thomas Ash

Nippon Honor Award 2019
Shinya TSUKAMOTO

ドキュメンタリー映画はジャンルでしょうか、それとも映画の種類でしょうか?ドキュメンタリー映画と劇映画は明確に分かれていますか?映画学者はそれについて長時間議論できます。いずれにしても、ドキュメンタリー映画を観ると世界が広がります、普段見れない文化と生活環境に連れて行かれます。また、日常生活で出会う人をもっと良く知ることもできます。慣れていることの中で新しい発見があり、昔からの習慣を顧みることに繋がります。NIPPON DOCS部門で、様々な社会現象をテーマにした日本のドキュメンタリー映画が紹介されます。

NIPPON DOCS部門で今年はじめて独自の観客賞が贈られます。賞金は1,000ユーロです(10頁参考)。(LINK)


2019年の受賞作品 (LINK)

ニッポン・シネマ賞 Nippon Cinema Award 2019
『翔んで埼玉』 武内英樹監督

ニッポン・ヴィジョンズ観客賞 Nippon Visions Audience Award 2019
『メランコリック』 田中征爾監督

ニッポン・ヴィジョンズ審査員賞 Nippon Visions Jury Award 2019
『海抜』 by 高橋賢成監督

ニッポン・ヴィジョンズ審査員のスペシャル・メンション The Nippon Visions Jury's Special Mention:
『ブルーアワーにぶっ飛ばす』 箱田優子監督

Nippon Docs Award 2019
『おみおくり〜Sending Off〜』 イアン・トーマス・アッシュ監督

ニッポン名誉賞 Nippon Honor Award 2019
塚本晋也