Sunday, October 14, 2018

Boys and Fathers

After premiering "Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE) nearly a year and a half ago in Germany (STORY), the film has had an amazing run on the film festival circuit.  While we thought screenings might be over this past the summer, we have had a last minute surge in interest in the film and have just confirmed screenings this month in Germany and Slovakia.  Next month "Boys for Sale" will be screening in the Philippines and Switzerland, and in December it will be in Taipei.  More information about the screening can be found on the film's website (HERE). 

These screenings now bring the grand total to 40 festivals, and on behalf of our entire team, we are so grateful for all of the support we have received over these many years we have been in research, production and post!
Back in July, I wrote about two new documentaries I am working on (STORY).  The first is called "Sending Off" (WEBSITE), which is the feature-version of my television documentary "Dying at Home" (INFO), and the other is a short documentary called "The Father's Love Begotten" (WEBSITE), which is about a young man who was sexually molested by a Catholic priest when he was a little boy. 

While I am still putting the finishing touches on both of these films, I have already begun sending them out to film festivals.  Soon I will be announcing some exciting news regarding "The Father's Love Begotten" and an opportunity I have been given to hold a special private test audience screening of it at a film school near Detroit early next month for which both the film's subject and I will be in attendance.

When I began working on "The Father's Love Begotten" nearly two years ago, I could not have imagined how timely its release would be and how the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic church would be back in the news so prominently.

Although many people will have heard about the priest sexual abuse scandal, the film contains detailed descriptions of not only the rape, but of how this boy was groomed by the priest to believe that sex with the priest was his "duty" to God and how this continues to affect him in his sexual relationships as an adult. These are parts of this horrible tragedy that I believe most people have not heard before and are not being covered in the news. 

My hope is that the story of the young man in "The Father's Love Begotten" will be heard by people across the world and that it will be one of the lights shed on the trauma these victims continue to suffer.  May their voices no longer be silenced by the Church.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Hard drives and fun drives

Although I have been mostly quiet on social media these past few months, much has been going on in the background, including editing on several projects and lots of submissions to film festivals.  And also a little fun, like driving these gorgeous ladies to a concert.  Ages 81, 90 and 93, they are great story tellers, funny, smart and seem to have more energy than me!
More news on the film front soon...

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Point of break

Recognizing I was in dire need of a break, I spent much of this month away traveling, visiting family, relaxing.  And healing.

While I have done a bit of recording while away, only time in the edit suite will reveal if it is a film, an installation piece or simply a personal project that through its making brings to me some new understanding about myself and the people I love...

Friday, July 27, 2018

Two new releases

Continuing a trend of putting out a new documentary nearly every year since 2012 (FILMS), I am extremely honoured to release the trailers for not one, but TWO new films (!).

The first one is called 「おみおくり〜Sending Off〜」, and it is the feature-length version of my public television-commissioned documentary program "Dying at Home" which was broadcast on NHK World in 2016 (WEBSITE).  Following completion of that program, I continued to film for an additional six months and then edit off and on for a year after that.  The result is a story that is more patient/family-focused and observational in style.  I am extremely honoured to be able to share this story of Dr. Konta and her amazing team of nurses, and I look forward to posting more information on the website (HERE) about upcoming screenings as they are confirmed.  In the meantime, the trailer can be seen below:

The second is a documentary short called 「父なる愛生せば」(in English: The Father’s Love Begotten), which is the story of a young man who was sexually abused by a Catholic priest when he was 12.  While the story may unfortunately sound all too familiar, what this young man shares in his heart-breaking and harrowing interview contains details I have never heard before.  The website for the film is HERE and the trailer is below.

I look forward to completing the post-production on these two news films (which for the filmmakers reading this includes locking picture, colour grade and sound mix) later this summer.

I would like to thank my team members who worked so hard with me on these films, as well as all of the supporters of my work whose encouragement over the years has been so instrumental in my ability to keep creating work which has been neither commercially successfully nor self-sustaining.

Acknowledging recent and significant signs that I need a break and time away to reflect, I have made the decision to take off most of the month of August during which time I will be traveling, visiting with family, and deeply considering my path forward in life.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

"Boys for Sale" screens in Tokyo

On Friday night, Boys for Sale (WEBSITE) screened in Japan for only the second time, after last autumn's participation in Tokyo AIDS Weeks (STORY).  

Organized by Professor David H. Slater, the screening was held as part of the Sophia University Institute of Comparative Culture Lecture Series 2018 (INFO).  Professor Slater also arranged for me to speak at a lunchtime seminar during the 22nd Annual Asian Studies Conference Japan last week to help promote the screening (STORY).

The screening was held at a venue in the university that holds 150 people.  More than 20 minutes before the start of the event it became clear it was going to fill up, so more than 50 seats were added on the sides and in the aisles of the room.  Those chairs also filled up and some people were left standing (meaning more than 200 people attended!), but at least no one had to be turned away like at the screening last year (STORY).

I was joined for post-screening discussion by Co, one of the film's protagonists, who has also joined us for screenings in Germany and America.  The audience is always so appreciative of the opportunity to hear not only from the filmmakers' side, but also from one of the subjects in the film.  So many wonderful questions were asked, and had it not been for a time limit on the event, it seemed like there were enough questions to carry on for another hour.
Also joining the Q&A was Nakatani Hitomi of N Tani Studios who created all of the drawings that were animated for the documentary.  Hitomi shared with the audience her approach to illustrating the stories of the boys in the film and how these extremely sexually explicit drawings are so remarkably unsexy.

With so many people in attendance, t is clear that there is an audience for this film.  A potential distribution partner who attended the screening later told me how watching the film with a group of 200 people- where you could hear them laugh, express surprise and feel the tension in the room- was like seeing a different film from the one she saw on her laptop in isolation.  

Um, yeah, that's why we have cinemas.

Now, let's try to get this film distributed...

Saturday, June 30, 2018

"Boys for Sale" awarded in Germany (UPDATE)!!!

***** UPDATE July 2, 2018*****

I have just received word from the Nachtschatten Film Festival about their 2018 Awards (unfortunately, I had to leave before the festival ended to attend the conference here in Tokyo on Saturday).  "Boys for Sale" received the award for Best Feature Film with the jury citation "for giving us insight into a world of sexworkers that share their experiences and dreams with us."

As the executive producer of the film, and on behalf of our entire team, especially director Itako, DOP/ producer Adrian "Uchujin" Storey, illustrator N Tani Studios and music composers Kazaguruma, I am extremely honoured and would like to thank the festival, their audiences and all of our supporters.


***** END UPDATE *****

I returned home last night from two wonderful screenings of "Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE) at the Nachtschatten Film Festival in Germany (INFO).  Taking place at the iconic Werkstattkino cinema in Munich (WEBSITE), this niche festival screens films under the broad banner of BDSM/ Fetish (!); I previously wrote more about this world of niche festivals (HERE). 
Q&A with NACHTSCHATTEN festival organizer Tobias Fleischer
It was a wonderful homecoming of sorts as well, as the Werkstattkino held an Artist in the Focus series of several of my films over a week in 2015 (STORY) under the direction of programmer and dear friend Doris Kuhn.

While I was in Germany, the award we received for Best Feature Documentary at the 2017 Queer International Film Festival Playa del Carmen (STORY) arrived via Berlin (long story), so we promptly posted that to the social media of the film as well (TWEET).
And with no rest for the wicked, today I presented a lunchtime talk at the 22nd Annual Asian Studies Conference Japan at the invitation of Sophia University's Professor David H. Slater (PROGRAM).  Presenting clips from "Boys for Sale"and speaking about possible uses of the film in universities, this event was held ahead of our screening at Sophia University on July 6 (INFO).

In the evening, I stopped by a restaurant popular with foreign visitors to have dinner with friends where I spotted the July issue of Metropolis.  I had heard they were featuring the July 6 screening of "Boys for Sale" at Sophia, but I had not seen it yet (below).  Metropolis published a four-page feature about all of my film work this past December (READ).
This will be the only the second for this Japanese documentary to be screened here, so not only are we looking forward to it, but we are hoping to secure some form of wider distribution as well.

Thank you all so much for your continued support!


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Update on "Boys" and other news

Another blog from the airport on the way to a film festival, this time to attend the Nachtschatten Film Festival (STORY) where the Munich Premier of "Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE) will take place. I am so grateful to have been a member of the team that made this documentary and for the amazing reception it has received across the world (AWARDS).

A few days ago "Boys for Sale" also had the honour of being featured in the International Documentary Association's list of 5 documentaries to watch for Pride Month (LINK)!

Meanwhile, I am extremely honored that "Orbiting in the Field: a Taidan (conversation) on Ecology and Filmmaking in Tohoku, Japan" (READ) was published in Duke University Press's Positions Asia Critique. This was four years in the making (!) and came to fruition through the hard work of my taidan partner Professor of Biology and renowned Chernobyl/ Fukushima researcher Timothy Mousseau and guest editors/ conference organizers Lisa Onaga & Harry Wu.  More about that conference in Singapore from four years ago is on my blog (HERE).

October 12, 2014
And my mail box held one other surprise with this week- a producer's gift from Shawn Lee Small, director of the award-winning documentary "Acres of Diamonds".  I am truly honoured to have been able to serve on the team of this amazing film as well (STORY).

Coming up on July 6, "Boys for Sale" will screen in Tokyo at Sophia University (INFO), and despite this Japanese film screening all over the world, this will be only the second time the film has screened in Japan; the first was last year's sold-out screening in Tokyo AIDS Week (STORY).
Time to head to the gate...

Thank you all so very much for support and encouragement over these many years.
Peace and gratitude,
Tokyo, Japan

Monday, May 28, 2018

"Boys for Sale" awarded in India

I am extremely honoured to announce that "Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE) received the Best Documentary Feature Award on Sunday night at the KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival in Mumbai!

「売買ボーイズ」がKASHISH ムンバイ国際映画祭で、昨夜、長編ドキュメンタリー最優秀賞を受賞したことをご報告できますことを大変光栄に思います。

The Jury Citation, which can be found HERE, stated:
“The jury found it unique for its honesty, brutality and integrity. The jury found the blend of form and content remarkable. The film goes into the heart of the matter fearlessly, creating an intense impression for the audience.”

This is the 6th award "Boys for Sale" has received, in addition to THESE five.  

We are next screening in Germany and Chile in June! Information the on “Screenings” page HERE

On behalf of the entire "Boys for Sale" team, we thank you all so much for your support!

Friday, April 27, 2018

A dying father reunites with his son, two years later

It is hard to believe that it has been two years since Mr. Hata died.

I first met Mr. Hata in the autumn of 2016 while working on my documentary "Dying at Home", and over the six months that followed, I formed a deep friendship with him and his wife.  During the time I spent with Mr. Hata, I learned so much about family, love and loss, and I shared one of these lessons with the world via Twitter when just weeks before he died Mr. Hata reunited with the son he had not seen in 30 years.

I first published that story with photographs live on Twitter as the father and son reunited and then archived it a few days later on Storify with the title "Mr. Hata and T: a father and a son: a dying father reunites with his son after thirty years" (BLOG).  I then published two follow-up stories, one when Mr. Hata died three weeks later (BLOG) and then when he was buried (BLOG).  A few months later I was invited to write the cover story for the December issue of Number 1 Shimbun, the magazine of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (READ), where I was able to more objectively reflect on the experience of documenting such an intimate and personal story in real time.  To mark the first year after his death, I published Mr. Hata's story in Japanese (BLOG).

This weekend will be the 2nd anniversary of Mr. Hata's death, and I am traveling to Fukushima today to attend the ceremony and visit his grave where I will remember all of the important lessons I learned and which continue to influence me.

Recently I learned that Storify will discontinue its service.  As I hope the story of Mr. Hata will be able to continue affecting and moving people, I have added a page on my website where these photodocumentaries will be archived.  The first three (all about Mr. Hata + the first one in Japanese) can now be found under the PHOTO DOC tab (HERE), where I plan to publish more when the right story calls out to be told in this format.

Thank you all for accompanying me on this journey.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

"Boys" in Thailand, Switzerland and Germany!

While I have been fairly quiet on social media lately, it has been for a great reason- for the past several months I have been working on a couple of really exciting projects, and I am really looking forward to sharing more about them soon!

Meanwhile, the "Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE) team continues to work on arranging upcoming screenings of the documentary.  Earlier this month we were honoured to provide the film for a free community screening in Bangkok that was hosted by OUT BKK (INFO).

Next month, the film will be screening in Switzerland's La fête du slip, during which it will screen everyday during the three-day film festival (May 11, 12 and 13)!  More information can be found HERE.

And in June, we will be screening in Munich at the Nacht Scahatten Festival of BDSM & Fetish Films (!).  As I wrote on this blog earlier this year (HERE):

Of all the niche film festivals that documentaries I have produced have screened at (Japanese, ethnographic, Asian, LGBTQ, environmental, nuclear) I have been most amused by the number of pornographic film festivals to which "Boys for Sale" has been invited.  Among these was the film's Italian Premier in Turin's Fish and Chips Erotic Film Fest on January 20.  I have yet to attend one of these pornographic festivals, but our DOP/ producer Adrian "Uchujin" Storey attended the film's screening in the Porn Film Festival Berlin last October and wrote about it on his blog.  Not for the faint-hearted. ;)
More information about the dates/ times "Boys for Sale" at Nacht Scahatten will be posted on the film's website and social media accounts as soon as we receive it.  In the meantime, general information about the festival can be found HERE.

And we are looking forward to announcing our Indian premier at a festival in Mumbai in May as soon as the press embargo is lifted.

It has been almost a year since "Boys for Sale" held its World Premier in Germany (STORY).  Thank you all so much for your support and encouragement over this year!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Marking 7 years since the March 11, 2011, triple disasters

Especially today I remember the disaster and the impact it has had on so many peoples' lives.  And I am profoundly humbled to have had the honour of helping to record some of their voices (READ).

It was an honour to be invited to attend yesterday's performance of the musical "Life for Tomorrow" (complete with English subtitles) to mark 7 years since the March 11, 2011, disaster.  昨日の公演に行かせて頂きました。感動しました。「被災地から未来へ、いのちの伝言“いのちてんでんこ” 2018年鎌倉芸術館 公演。」

‬The producer of the musical, Jujiro Maegawa, interviewed more than 70 people who had been displaced by the tsunami and were living in temporary housing.  It was these interviews that formed the story of the musical which was first performed in 2013.  More information about the show is HERE

Today,  March 11, trains were stopped at 14:46, the time the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake struck 7 years ago to observe a minute of silence.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Selling out in Sydney

With the screening in last week's Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival (INFO), "Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE) has now screened on six continents... with just Antarctica now remaining.  And thanks to travel support from the Japan Foundation of Sydney, I was honoured to be able to attend the screening, which also marked my first time in Australia.
Qscreen Mardi Gras FFでの上映完売について、 国際交流基金のサポートを受けられたことを光栄に思います‬。
with Queer Screen director Lisa Rose
the Queer Screen film page for "Boys for Sale"
The Japan Foundation Sydney website
Between attending screenings at the festival and doing a bit of PR, there was not time for too much sight-seeing, but I did make it to the harbour briefly for the must-have photo in front of the Opera House.  I also spent time at the local cinema where I saw films that will not be released in Japan for months, including "Call Me By Your Name" and "Lady Bird".
with 2SER's What Matters's Nic Healey on his morning breakfast radio show
speaking with Elevan Cooper for his Elevan O’Clock podcast
One of the highlights of attending festivals is getting to meet other filmmakers, some of whom I have met before while traveling on the circuit, like Craig Boreham, director of "Teenage Kicks" whom I met last summer at Oufest in Los Angeles (INFO).
L to R: Craig Boreham, me, Will Sullivan (dir "The Ring Thing") & Mikko Makela  (dir. of "A Moment in the Reeds")
The festival audiences were amazing, enthusiastic and out in full force, and despite having already been moved into a bigger cinema, "Boys for Sale" SOLD OUT all 346 seats the day before our screening!  As always, the post-screening Q&A felt too short, but aside from a question from a sex-worker advocate with an agenda, it went really well and the audience asked great questions and had clearly engaged with the film.

UPDATE:  My conversation with Elevan Cooper for his Elevan O’Clock podcast has been published.  Elevan skillfully disarmed me to the point that I appear to have mistaken the interview for a session with a therapist.  Listen HERE for more about my personal life than most viewers of my documentaries ever wanted to know or I ever intended to share, LOL.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

"Boys for Sale" receives Best LGBTQ Feature at Oxford Film Fest!

I am extremely honoured to announce that "Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE) received the award for Best LGBTQ Feature at the Oxford Film Festival in Mississippi last night! 「売買ボーイズ」がOxford映画祭でLGBTQ長編最優秀賞を受賞!

Ahead of the opening of the festival, Brian Whisenant, head programmer for the LGBTQ+ category, was quoted in THIS DM Online article about the festival which is held in Mississippi:
“Oxford Film Festival has always shown LGBTQ films, but (festival director) Melanie Addington and I believe that highlighting the community and giving it its own section shows our town and the film community at large that we are not our state’s legislative bigotry." 
I had really been looking forward to attending this awesome festival, where "Boys for Sale" was screening twice (INFO) and where I had received the additional privilege of being asked to participate in the Queer Filmmaking Panel tomorrow during which "Filmmakers/actors discuss the challenges, advantages of queer filmmaking as well as the state of LGBTQ cinema in today's climate" (INFO).  Unfortunately, due to deadlines on some upcoming projects (more exciting news on those soon!), I had to cancel plans to attend at the last minute.

from the DM Online article

This is the 5th award "Boys for Sale" has received, in addition to THESE four.  On behalf of the entire "Boys for Sale" team, we are truly humbled by the amazing reception the film has received.  Thank you all so much for your support! これまでの4つの賞(こちら)に加え、これで5つ目の賞です。皆さんありがとうございます!

We are next screening in Oregon’s Corvallis Queer Film Festival (Feb 21) and Sydney’s Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival (Feb 20)! Info on “Screenings” page HERE.  次の上映はアメリカのオレゴン州 (2月21日)とオーストラリアのシドニー(2月20日)です。詳細は「上映」ページ(こちら)をご参照下さい。

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A great start

The beginning of 2018 brought to an end for me the year following the inauspicious year of the age of 42, a 3-year period which includes both the year leading into and out of it (more on that in THIS Japan Times article), but which starts counting from birth at 1, rather than 0, so you are actually one year older by this counting system.  It is a bit complicated and also depends on where you live in Japan, but the take away is, the unlucky period for me is over.  ;)  And NOT to challenge the fates, but if that was my "unlucky period", then all I can say is that I have nothing but gratitude for these last few years, and I look forward to the coming ones.

January has been a wonderful start to the New Year.  Looking at my social media over the last few weeks it seems like it has been a slow start, but I am editing a couple of projects in the background.  And already there have been some great things going on!

On January 16, I went to my lawyer's office to pick up my brand new 3-year visa.  I was so grateful (and relieved) after having consistently received only one-year visas since 2013 (and having to reapply every year).  

Boys for Sale music score in the Top 10
On January 19, blogger Noah Franc, who writes about Japanese cinema, published his list of "Top Ten Film Scores of 2017" for Japanese film on his "Oh Cinema" blog (LINK).  The soundtrack for "Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE), composed by the musicians known as Kazaguruma (with Jack on shamisen and Komitetsu on cello) who worked closely with director Itako, came in at number 7.
「売買ボーイズ」の音楽が、ブロガーNoah Francさんの2017年映画音楽トップ10に選ばれたよ!チームのみんな、特に作曲グループ「かざぐるま」の寂空 on 三味線と  こみてつ on チェロへおめでとう!
This unforgettable film about a little-known part of the Japanese sex trade also happens to have some of the most interesting original music scores of the year as well. Featuring a band playing an assortment of Japanese instruments, the makers of the film made the unusual choice of mixing together the actual written score with the musician’s improvisational warm-up recordings. While the band was understandably apprehensive about this, they needn’t have worried, because the end result was a remarkably fitting sound unlike anything else I heard all year.
 Italian Premier of "Boys for Sale"
Of all the niche film festivals that documentaries I have produced have screened at (Japanese, ethnographic, Asian, LGBTQ, environmental, nuclear) I have been most amused by the number of pornographic film festivals to which "Boys for Sale" has been invited.  Among these was the film's Italian Premier in Turin's Fish and Chips Erotic Film Fest on January 20 (LINK).  I have yet to attend one of these pornographic festivals, but our DOP/ producer Adrian "Uchujin" Storey attended the film's screening in the Porn Film Festival Berlin last October and wrote about it on his blog (HERE).  Not for the faint-hearted. ;)

MORE upcoming screenings
"Boys for Sale" started on the film festival circuit last May and is still going strong!  Upcoming screenings include the Mississippi Premier in the 2018 Oxford Film Festival (Feb 7-11) where it will screen on February 9 & 10 (LINK) as well as the Australian Premier in the 2018 Queer Screen’s Mardi Gras FF (Feb 15-March 1 in Sydney) where it screens February 20 at 18:30 (LINK).  Screenings still under embargo include TWO screenings on the West Coast (USA), another one in Australia and our Swiss premier!  More info on those as it becomes available on the Screenings page of the film (HERE).

Thank you all so much for your continued support an encouragement!
Much Peace to you all in 2018,
Tokyo, Japan