Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Finally! The return of Toshiaki Toyoda!

by Chris MaGee

It was literally just last night... or was it the night before? Jet lag is a bitch, but... during the final party for this year's Nippon Connection I was talking with Jasper Sharp and Nippon Culture Coordinator Christiane Borchert about our huge disappointment that "Blue Spring" and "9 Souls" director Toshiaki Toyoda had seemingly never bounced back from his 2005 conviction of possessing "stimulants" which resulted in three year suspended sentence. I guess we're so used to folks in Hollywood getting slapped on the wrist after drug convictions and then quickly returning to the screen, but in Japan the stigma surrounding his arrest seemed to have permanently ended his brilliant filmmaking career. Thank god that's not the case any longer! Nippon Cinema has news of Toyoda's first directorial effort since his fabulous 2005 drama "The Hanging Garden".

"Yomigaeri no Chi (Blood of Resurrection)” is based on a Japanese legend about a man named Oguri Hangan who after having nearly died from ingesting poison travels to the holy town of Kumano where he is brought back to life. Musician Tatsuya Nakamura will star as Oguri while Masao Kusakari, Mayuu Kusakari, Hirofumi Arai, and Itsuji Itao will round out the cast.

So will this be Toyoda's first jidai-geki film or will he being updating it to a contemporary setting. If it's the latter it could definitely be seen as a bit of an acknowledgment of these past few difficult years for the 40-year-ols filmmker. Regardless, I and many other Japanese cinema fans are overjoyed to hear this news!

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