Friday, August 28, 2009

Shinsedai Cinema Festival wrap up

by Chris MaGee

If you're a regular reader of the J-Film Pow-Wow blog you'll know that I've spent a solid four months planning and programming a new film festival here in Toronto, the Shinsedai Cinema Festival, hosted by the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. It's been nearly an all consuming task and it's often been a struggle to balance out my day job, the Pow-Wow blog and getting Shinsedai off the ground in what many people are telling me was record time. Of course I had help in the task from Midnight Eye co-founder, film curator, and author Jasper Sharp, as well as Executive Director of the JCCC, James Heron and his wonderful staff. Still the end of the fest this past Sunday has left me exhausted but immensely satisfied that we got to introduce so many new and independent filmmakers to Toronto film audiences.

When I thought of doing a wrap up of Shinsedai here on the Pow-Wow I thought it would be easy, like covering any festival that I've attended, but in actual fact it's very difficult because when you're working so long and so hard behind the scenes it makes it very hard to be objective about the end festival experience. That was the main reason why I had Pow-Wow book reviewer and now film reviewer Eric Evans handle the Day 2 and Day 3 coverage . He did a fantastic job giving all of you a feel of what Shinsedai was about and how it played out. And of course we can't forget Marc Saint-Cyr who helped with the daily news items (Thanks, Marc!)

For my part I don't have as much juicy inside information as you might think. I do, on the other hand, have really fond memories of being able to spend time with filmmakers like the gentle, but wickedly smart Yasutomo Chikuma, director of "Now, I...", The quiet Touru Hano, writer and director of "Thunderfish" whose polar opposite and cinematic "brother" Tetsuhiro Kato, who shot the film, was a joy to spend time with. How many people do you know who have spent four months traveling around the world on a boat?! I was smitten by artist and animator Akino Kondoh's sincere and and thoughtful manner, bedazzled by our "poster girl" and star of "Thunderfish", Junko Kimoto (above), awed by the filmmaking talent of Yoshiro Ito, director of "Vortex and Others" and was deeply touched by producer Atsuko Ohno, of "Peaches!", and her sincere thanks of being a part of Shinsedai. I honestly do feel like I've made friends with all our guests.

Now that we're all back to daily life I want to let all of you know that I'm recommitting myself to the Pow-Wow blog. Overwork and fatigue has caused our daily coverage to suffer just a bit and for that I apologize, but the blog will be getting back to normal shortly... well at least for a few months. At the end of the inaugural year of the Shinsedai Cinema Festival what I can tell you is that we'll be back... in fact keep checking back for dates for Shinsedai 2010. We're here and we plan to stay!

Last, but by no means least I want to tip my hat to Maki, Yuki, Derek, Masayo, Polly, Trista , our very own Matt Hardstaff who kept things humming in the projection booth, and all the volunteers and hosts who made the very first Shinsedai Cinema Festival such a joy to work on.

We'll see you next year, Toronto!

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