by Chris MaGee
Some of the most interesting "Japanese" films are often not Japanese at all. The 2003 tribute to the works of Yasujiro Ozu "Café Lumière" was directed by Taiwanese director Hsiao-hsien Hou, the award-winning comedy/ drama "Fear and Trembling" about a Belgian woman working a year contract in Tokyo was directed by the (very sadly) late Alain Corneau, and the exquisite short film "Kingyo" about an affair between a girl in a maid café and a middle-aged professor was directed by Malaysian filmmaker Edmund Yeo. Now Tokyograph is reporting on another film set in Japan but directed by a non-Japanese filmmaker.
Currently in production is "Cut", a gritty drama by 64-year-old Iranian director Amir Naderi, best known for his 1985 multiple award-winner "Davandeh" and the Golden Lion-nominated 2008 film "Vegas: Based on a True Story". "Cut" tells the story of a struggling indie filmmaker named Shuji who funds his film projects by taking loans from his brother. The problem is that Shuji's brother is in no position to be loaning cash as the money he's giving Shuji was borrowed from the yakuza. Shuji decides to take on the job of being a human punching bag in underground boxing matches in order to help his brother to pay of the money owed to the Japanese mob.
Shuji is being portrayed by 39-year-old Hidetoshi Nishijima, most familiar to North American audiences for his roles in Takeshi Kitano's "Dolls" and Hajime Kadoi's "Vacation"; in fact the role of Shuji was specifically written for Nishijima by Naderi. The two men met in 2005 at the annual Tokyo Filmex film festival, and it was there that they struck up a friendship and decided that they'd work on a future project. "Cut" is the end result of this.
The cast of "Cut" will be rounded out by actress Takako Tokiwa as a bartender and Takashi Sasano as a yakuza gangster. Expect to see "Cut" hitting theatres and the film fest circuit next year.