by Chris MaGee
Both Marc Saint-Cyr and I landed safely (if a little jet-lagged) on Tuesday, but once our internal clocks aligned themselves with Frankfurt time we were ready to go for the 10 anniversary offering of the city's Nippon Connection film festival. It was a great opening night not only with all the big name guests like Tomorowo Taguchi (Oh, My Buddha!), Toshiaki Toyoda (Blood of Rebirth), Tetsuaki Matsue (Live Tape, Annyong Yumika), and Michael Arias (Heaven's Door), but also throngs of Frankfurt natives (could they be called Frankfurt-ians?) coming out to see the opening night film, Shuichi Okita's "South Pole Chef". The screening of the feel good film starring Masato Sakai as a chef assigned to an Antarctic research facility was proceeded by the introduction of this year's jury for the Nippon Digital Award - Prof. Roland Domenig, Bernd Brehmer, and longtime Pow-Wow friend Jasper Sharp - as well as an impromptu performance by "Live Tape" star Kenta Maeno who had to marshal his busking skills to overcome some mic malfunctions and filled the Nippon Cinema theatre with one of his songs part of which he sung in German.
I will be honest and say that with a few screeners under our belts both Marc and I spent most of the opening night catching up with old friends - Jasper, Roland, expat Canadian film blogger Cathy Munroe Hotes, and Nippon Connection staffers Petra Palmer, Mayu Sugaya, Yuki Kawamoto, Lukas Brehm and Alex Zahlten, as well as new friends John Berra, editor of the newly published "Directory of World Cinema: Japan" (which includes entries from our own Marc Saint-Cyr, Bob Turnbull and Matthew Hardstaff), Midnight Eye's Tom Mes, Japanese-German filmmaker Mario Kirasaka, Japanese film blogger Miho Toda whose HogaHolic is in the process of being translated into English, and actor/ director Takuya Fukushima whose film "Our Brief Eternity" was the highlight of my pre-festival viewing.
Just when you think, "Are Chris and Marc just going to drink beer and hang out for the whole Festival?" never fear. Both my Day 2 schedule and Marc's are packed with films, so keep checking back in the days to come for more reviews and daily updates. Until then check out the official trailer for this year's Nippon Connection film festival below... and check out some of the nifty series of posters that have been created for this year's fest above. Not since I was a kid and I was collecting trading cards have I wanted to swap and trade to make sure I get the whole set of anything, but these posters have renewed that old desire. Wish me luck!