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From Europe to Asia

SEPTEMBER 08

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NisiMazine


Editorial T

his September, NISI MASA’s 7th birthday marks a period of great excitement and promise for the future. As the 2008 Script Contest reaches the crucial point of selecting national finalists, we are preparing for a very busy autumn, involving new collaborations and ventures, new faces and ideas. Not to mention that one of our most ambitious projects EVER is already on track right at this very moment (see p.3)! Meanwhile, NISIMAZINE is celebrating its very own special anniversary, after one year and 12 issues of our dear monthly newsletter. Which is why we decided to celebrate by looking towards a new horizon. Following the eastwards journey of the Cine-Train then, our gaze naturally began to drift from Europe towards Asia… Of course most of you reading this will be particularly familiar with East Asian cinema, whether it be through commercial genres popular in the West (samurai films, kung fu action comedies, anime, horror), respected auteurs (from Kurosawa to Wong Kar-Wai) or the latest obscure ‘only in festival’ art-house productions. In fact, the tastes of the younger generation of European cinephiles are more influenced by Asian films than ever before – and for good reason.*

Agenda September, 1 All the network 7th anniversary of NISI MASA! September, 15 All the network Deadline for sending English translations of national finalist scripts for the 2008 contest September, 20 Vladivostock Russia End of Cine-Train workshop and projection of final films

This month we bring you a selection of musings on the Europe/Asia cinema connection, from the industry end (interview p.4) to the mutual creative inspiration (p.3 and 5). The ‘Nisi Quiz’ is also making a second appearance to test your Asia-related knowledge (p.5). Certainly, if this year’s Venice Festival is anything to go by, Europe’s obsession with Asia is not about to go away any time soon. Just one of the films in competition, Inju, la bête dans l’ombre, happens to be a French adaptation of a Japanese novel. For the final icing on the cake, see pages 7 and 8 (in place of the usual 'in the spotlight' and 'portrait' sections) to read our encounter with Mr Schroeder himself! Happy birthday NISIMAZINE :)

Jude Lister Editor

*One of my own personal favourites from the past few years? Highest grossing S. Korean film of all time, Bong Joon-ho’s The Host – an energetic monster movie with just the right doses of family melodrama and hysterical comedy.

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Next Issue...

NISIMAZINE # 14 ~ October 2008 Special focus: ANIMATION The enduring popularity of 'traditional' or 'artisanal' forms of animated film in a digital age...

Nisimazine is a monthly newsletter published by the association NISI MASA. EDITORIAL STAFF Editor-in-chief Matthieu Darras Secretary of the editorial Jude Lister Layout Emilie Padellec, Nina Henke, Jude Lister Contributors to this issue Nina Henke, Jude Lister, Atso Pärnänen, Mirtha Sozzi, Itxaso Elosua Ramírez NISI MASA (European Office) 10 rue de l’Echiquier, 75010, Paris, France; Tel/Fax: + 33 (0)1 53 34 62 78 + 33 (0)6 32 61 70 26 Email europe@nisimasa.com Website www.nisimasa.com Cover photo: still from Inju, la bête dans l'ombre (kindly provided by UGC)


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Special Dossier: From Europe to Asia

n cinema, as in a broader cultural sense, we have long been fascinated by the Orient (particularly China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan…) Nowadays many films enjoy success in European cinema theatres, and it is safe to say that no respectable international festival is complete

without a good helping of Asian fare. Historically European directors have of course themselves often flirted with Asian culture, whether it be taking inspiration from fellow filmmakers, adapting literary works, or simply choosing to film stories over there. /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

European Filmmakers go to Asia David Lean

In the jungles of what then was called Ceylon, Lean in his meticulous way made yet another classic with Bridge on the River Kwai. Based on real events, the film follows a group of POWs building a bridge, as the minds of Japanese and British officers wrestle with one another.

Michelangelo Antonioni

Antonioni was invited and stayed for five weeks in China to do a documentary (Chung Kuo). Antonioni narrates, beginning with: "We have just wanted to get a picture of China, we can't offer more”. The view that he offered in the end was not one preferred by authorities.

Alain Resnais

From the book by Duras, Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959) was shot in France and Japan with crews from both countries. He was going to do a documentary about the Atomic Bomb but ended up with a love story about a French woman and a Japanese man. One of the first new wave films, it was creative in its use of flashbacks.

Cine-Train There is a mythic train going from Moscow to the Far East… to Beijing ! It is called the Trans-Siberian Railroad and it’s been rolling for more than a hundred years now along the 9288 Km track from Europe to Asia. NISI MASA’s Cine-Train filmmaking workshop, which started last week in Moscow, is now on its way eastward. The final stop will be Vladivostok and the 6th edition of the ‘Pacific Meridian’ International Film Festival of Asian-Pacific Countries (VIFF), where the documentaries - made during the three-week long trip - will be screened. And what better place to show films about a journey between the two continents! The festival, geographically located in Russia, but just 400km away from Tokyo and Seoul, and features a showcase of new cinema from South-East Asia, as well as from the Pacific countries and Russia itself. A true meeting of cultures can be found here. http://www.viff.vl.ru/ Check out the Cine-Train blog! www.cinetrain.blogspot.com

Nina Henke

Michael Winterbottom

Hiroshima Mon Amour

In Code 46 Winterbottom builds the city and the world of tomorrow in a sci-fi story about an insurance man whose love is not to be because of genetic incompatibility. Mixing languages and cities, he creates a vision of a near future where cultures have melted together.

Bernardo Bertolucci

Everyone remembers the scenes of The Last Emperor in the Forbidden City with Peter O Toole. In 1987 this was the first western film to be done in China with full governmental cooperation since 1949.

Doris Dörrie

Dörrie seems to have developed a specialisation in tales of Germans in Japan. Following Enlightenment Guaranteed and The Fisherman and His Wife, her soon-to-be released Cherry Blossoms: Hanami is a tale of a grieving widower’s journey to Tokyo, to fulfil his late wife’s last wish.

Atso Pärnänen


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Special Dossier: From Europe to Asia

SEA-Images The SEA-Images (Synergy Europe-Asia in the field of cinema) website is an initiative of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) – an organisation which promotes collaborations and mutual understanding between Europe and Asia, specifically through cultural and intellectual exchanges. It was initiated during the 1st Asia-Europe Film Development Plan Meeting held in Manila in 2002, organised by the ASEF and Cinemanila International Film Festival. All participants expressed the need to share information on film industry via a common website with special focus on independent cinema. SEA-Images thus identifies and classifies information on the Asian film industry and European cinema, for a better sharing and understanding amongst film professionals. In a longer term perspective, it aims to help young talents to be found and better recognised in both regions. www.sea-images.asef.org Itxaso Elosua Ramírez

INTERVIEW David Ocón Fernandez (Project Executive, Asia-Europe Foundation) and Jérémy Segay (Content Provider for Asia, SEA-Images Website). Have you noticed an increase in crossfertilisation between European and Asian cinema industries in the past few decades? Recent years have seen an increase of co-productions between both continents, mostly exclusively Asian directors working with European companies which usually get access to some kind of co-production funds. More and more European sales companies also handle Asian films, but we rarely see the opposite. Since many of the most important festivals on a prestige - but also business - level are in Europe, Asian producers are eager to entrust these companies for the international launch and career of their films. In addition, European cultural policies are often taken as a model for some Asian countries which are dealing with issues of cultural diversity and the support of their local film industry. How do you explain the fascination that Europe has for Asian films, especially from Eastern Asia (Japan, China, Korea...)? Europe and Asia have both a tradition (and the respect) of author cinema. Filmmakers are regarded as artists. Asian cinema, with all its diversity and strong cultural background, surely offers to the audience an alternative to Hollywood, a chance to immerse themselves into something unfamiliar or different.

Participants at the 6th Asia-Europe Film Meeting

Asian cinema with its important star-system also can be perceived glamorous, in the same way that European cinema used to be. Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung in In The Mood for Love are as iconic as Marcello Mastrioani and Anita Ekberg were in La Dolce Vita. Some of today’s South East Asian films are often perceived in Europe as exotic jewels, coming from the Far East, from distant (and somehow mysterious) countries like Indonesia, Philippines or Vietnam. However, very few Asian films are real boxoffice success in Europe and succeed to reach a broader audience. Asian action films and Japanese animation are the exceptions. How do you think European films are perceived in Asia? Directors like Godard, Truffaut, Antonioni, Fassbinder, etc are of course known and admired, often more than current directors. But unlike Asian cinema in Europe, which is regarded as having many different genres and being accessible, European films are often perceived in Asia as very intellectual and even distant. European films are still not easy to access in many Asian countries. Beside a few authors (Almodovar, Ozon, etc), commercial flicks (often perceived as coming from Hollywood) and some films tailored for export (Paris Je t'Aime), with the exceptions of economic-cultural hubs like Singapore or Hong Kong, the only opportunities to see them is at festivals or screenings organised by Cultural Centres. Jude Lister


???NisiQuiz!!!

Toshiro Mifune's 'samurai with no name'

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Special Dossier: From Europe to Asia Asian Cinema

1. A Ninkyo is… a) the first type of the Yakuza movie b) a famous Asian Hero c) an Asian marshal art 2. Hiroshima mon amour… a) is a romantic movie set in Japan and France b) is a spectacle that follows the lives of the leaders of the Japanese town c) never heard about it

The Cowboy and the Samurai John Ford and the Monument Valley; Akira Kurosawa and samurai culture: these elements create a path that takes us to Sergio Leone and the Spaghetti-Western. The connection between oriental and western cinemas are endless, and sometimes unexpected - especially if they concern a genre such as the so deeply western ‘Western’. We could talk about several movies and give evidence of this profitable exchange (The Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven by John Sturges, or The Hidden Fortress and Star Wars by George Lucas…), but today we prefer dwelling on Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars by Sergio Leone. The samurai movie, itself heavily indebted to the Hollywood Western, served as a matrix upon which the Italian director reinvented the genre (for the European public) by substituting the Spanish desert for the American West. Indeed without the Japanese movie, and the passion of Kurasawa for John Ford, the Clint Eastwood character of The Man with No Name, centrepiece of the Dollars trilogy, would never have been born. Early on in Yojimbo, an innkeeper asks the restless ronin (Toshiro Mifune) what his name is. Mifune gazes absently out of the window and replies, "Mulberry bush, 30 years old." The connection it is not just through the character’s name. Thank to Yojimbo Leone could run a blade through the traditional Hollywood Western, clearing it out and opening it up, eviscerating its tiresome romantic subplots, upping the violence and deepening the fatalism. What a change! Kurusawa, after viewing A Fistful of Dollars, said: "It is a very fine film, but it is my film". And he certainly had a point.

Mirtha Sozzi

3. Which film was the first to receive full Chinese government backing since 1949? a) Painted Veil by John Curran (2006) b) The Last Emperor by Bertolucci (1987) c) Zaitôichi by Kitano (2003)

?! a)s you are … Miranda Miso Darjeeling For you Asia is first and foremost about senses. You drink tea and wrap yourself in silk and consider yourself a person with knowledge of Far Eastern cultures. Deep down you are just as hopeless a romantic as the rest of the singles in the theatre. b)s you are … Folder Greene For you a story that takes place on foreign land must be filmed on at least 70mm, have wide shots, lots of extras and make you feel like you are there with them as the masses move and the explosions go off. c)s you are … Fung Ku Hong Kong Whether a panda let loose or a badly dubbed, grainy “kicking film”, as long as it has “made in Hong Kong” stamped somewhere on it you are happy. Just remember while buying groceries that others can see when you try to imitate slow motion…

Nina Henke & Atso Pärnänen

From Page to Screen The cultural encounter between Europe and Asia seems to be particularly strong when you look at film adaptations of literature. Probably the most famous examples are the film versions of Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, shot in 1958 by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and again in 2001 by Phillip Noyce (both set in the Hotel Continental in Ho Chi Minh City). Another well-known example is Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2002) by Dai Sijie. This time it was a Chinese filmmaker who directed a French-Chinese production, based in his own semi-autobiographic novel.

Nina Henke


Latest news EMERGEANDSEE FESTIVAL: CALL FOR FILMS

“In our world today the axis EastWest gains new importance, but has numerous meanings. What this might mean is totally up to you. It might be the gap between Eastern and Western Germany, or in Europe, the two poles Eastern and Western states, the USA and the Arabic world...it is your idea and your point of view that matters”. The Berlin-based short film festival EMERGEANDSEE is looking for young filmmakers' views on the topic of "East-West". In this special competition, films up to 20 minutes in length can be submitted. In the regular annual open competition, the festival is also seeking fresh and clever short films of up to 10 minutes. EMERGEANDSEE 2009 will take place in February in Berlin. Submissions will be accepted until the 1st of October. You must be aged 30 or under to participate. www.emergeandsee.org

LET'S CRE8 TOGETHER WORKSHOP 'Let's Cre8 together' is a training course that aims to empower young people from different backgrounds to promote the voice of youth through film and media and induce a positive impact on society in general.

Cre8ive Youth Media Productions is seeking groups of young people (up to 7 people) motivated to participate in the project, and the exchange visit which will take place in July 2009 in Macedonia. The countries involved will be Macedonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Poland and Romania. Participants must be aged 16 – 22, and do not require any experience in filmmaking. If you are interested in helping to organise this project, please contact boriskaeski@gmail.com. www.cre8ive8.org

CINEUROPA ONLINE SCRIPTWRITING COURSE Cineuropa.org, the European cinema portal, proposes an online scriptwriting course in English, French, Italian and Spanish. The training formula is based on a direct and personalised contact between the participants and the teacher. Participants will therefore be able to read the lessons at their leisure and communicate privately with the teacher at any moment. Following the first trial lesson, which is available, free of charge, on the website, the course is structured in eight lessons over 14 weeks. These lessons' aim is to offer participants the essential theoretical and practical notions in scriptwriting, while highlighting the differences between cinema scriptwriting and other creative forms. The follow up with the tutor and the practical aspects provided by the exercises are at the core of the project. For further information, visit www.cineuropa. org.

NISIMAZINE REACHES LATIN AMERICA Next month the Middle East, next year Latin America! NISI MASA’s Nisimazine film journalism workshops will soon be travelling to festivals around the globe… Collaborations have already been initiated with the Lima Latin American Film Festival (Peru) and the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival (Brazil), who are interested in hosting Nisimazine in August and September/October 2009 respectively.

Even better news: a Youth in Action grant from the European Union was recently awarded for the carrying out of the new workshops in 2009, plus the continuation of two more Nisimazine events in Alba (Italy, March) and Cannes (France, May)! All four workshops will invite young people from both Latin America and Europe to form mixed editorial teams. Needless to say, competition for places will be tougher than ever before ;)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Encounter with...

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Barbet Schroeder

chroeder’s new film Inju, la bête dans l’ombre is in competition at the 65th

Venice International Film Festival this year. The film tells the story of a French crime novel author who, invited to Japan to receive a prize for his work, becomes entangled in a seedy and violent underworld, pitted against a man with revenge on his mind.

“I still feel foreign”, says Barbet Schroeder. “Filmmakers are all the time surrounded by people but always alone”. When it comes to the life and career of Barbet Schroeder it would be easy to be mesmerized by all the ‘war stories’ this filmmaker of true cosmopolitan approaches could tell if he chose to. The list of places he has made films include France, the United States, Colombia, Uganda, New Guinea and now also Japan with his latest film Inju. He has directed stars from Jeremy Irons to Sandra Bullock, from Nicolas Cage to Meryl Streep. He has produced films for Eric Rohmer, Jacques Rivette and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Schroeder was born in 1941 in Tehran, Iran to German/Swiss parents, grew up in Colombia and did his studies in France at the Sorbonne. As a teenager he decided, and there is no hesitation when he says this, to become a filmmaker. He made his way into the film industry by borrowing a car from his mother. Anyone with a car will soon find himself working for free on a production and Schroeder moved forward quickly. At the age of 23 he set up a film company that would become the legendary Les Films du Losange and began producing and directing films.


changes countr y ever y once in a while he can have new beginning of sor ts. Like Bunuel's move to Mexico. But in the middle of all the excitement that a career like his surely has he remains calm and remarks that whether Holly wood or A r t House it is always a miracle if a f ilm gets made. Schroeder tells me that he does not like nostalgia and prefers not period pieces or scif i but stories that take place in the present. While he is clearly up-to-date and on the move, I - w ith the risk of sounding nostalgic - end by say ing that he reminds me of times when you could judge a man by his handshake. With him it may indeed still be that way.

Atso P 채 rn 채 nen

His directorial debut was an international f ilm shot in English (MORE, w ith music by Pink Floyd): from the star t Schroeder did not set out to do French f ilms, but w ith his company has contributed a fare share of impor tant productions to French cinema. A nd while many would have returned from Los A ngeles af ter a few months, Schroeder kept on persisting for years and launched himself into a Holly wood career. When you look at the f ilms of Schroeder, among them Barf ly, Reversal of Fort une, Single White Female, Desperate Measures, Murder by The Numbers, Our Lady of the Assassins and Terror's Advocate, one is lef t w ith one question: in looking at how far we as humans are ready to go, and how much we can get a way w ith, does he only want to ask, or does he also want to f ind an answer? Intelligently avoiding what so many other f ilmmakers do nowadays, he does not overanalyse the themes of his f ilms. For a f ilmmaker there is always a danger in listening too much to what the critics have to say. Schroeder is clearly a doer and does not waste time talking gossip or subtexts. Had he decided to become an actor, many would have seen him as a wor thy contender. Even off-screen Schroeder clearly has a presence (one could easily imagine him in the role of an off icer, a mountain climber, or a prize-f ighter). A gentleman who at 67 years still has a boy ish energ y and interest in his eyes, he comes across as a person who is used to being in charge, one who has the abilit y to have an absolute focus and persistence in what he is doing but at the same time w ith a sense of restlessness, a feeling of longing to be on the move and f ind the next horizon, to get the job done. Schroeder says that if a f ilmmaker All images provided by UGC

Nisimazine monthly Sept 2008  

NISI MASA monthly newsletter Sept 2008

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