By Bill Lawson
On April 22, people who travelled from all over Hiroshima on a rainy day to see the Let’s Film Festival were treated to a great rain-drenched movie-a-thon. The evening was filled with zombies, musicals, comedy and animation. The subject matter was diversified and many reflected on our lives in Japan. It was an outstanding showing by all those who participated- a Steven Spielberg may be among us!
The second annual Fukuyama Let’s Film Festival had one thing in common with last year’s inaugural event – rain! And what better way is there to spend a rainy day than watching movies with friends? Compared to last year, the festival grew immeasurably, showing vast improvement and firmly establishing itself as a Hiroshima events staple. The venue, Nohohon Café, had been renovated since last year and provided the perfect place for seventy-odd people to watch movies together. Movie theaters are way overrated – they don’t have sofas or pound cake.
The event started out with the thirty second commercials category , a new addition to this year’s festival. The six entries all delivered laughs aplenty and got the event off to a great start. The winner, determined by an audience vote, was “Facial Hair Coach” by Gaijin Invasion. Team members included Matt Hazel, Josh Zimmerman, Rory Finch, Simon Aebersold, Marc Milsten and yours truly. Since I was on that team and in the commercial, I’m not going to tell you about it. You know the part in the joke where the person says “You had to be there”? Well this is one of those times. For those of you who weren’t there, the good news is that the organizers of the festival are in the process of making a web page where all the films and commercials can be viewed so you’ll be able to judge for yourselves before long.
Next up was the main event: five-minute films. There were three times as many films this year as last, with a total of twelve entries in the five-minute film category. Films were required to make use of a prop (an overflowing ashtray), a location (a statue or monument) and this line “You should be dancing”. The big winner of the night, again determined by an audience vote, was “The Blue Man,” an animated film about a day in Metropolis by Grahaeme Cowie. In his emotionally charged acceptance speech he told the audience about his plans to pursue a future career in animation. I can testify that he will surely find great success down that road. His talk of future plans also gave hope to all those people (or maybe just me…) who came to Japan to figure out what they wanted to do with their life.
After the event, I circulated with a tape recorder interviewing people and learned a great deal from this experience – first and foremost that hitting the record button is very critical when wanting to record! My lack of technological genius having left me now quoteless, you’ll have to take my word for it that everybody thought the event was highly entertaining. Grahaeme Cowie and Natasha Mekhail went to great lengths to start the festival and they were delighted with both the quantity and the quality of the entries. Grahaeme talked with great passion about his hopes for the future of this event; namely that it become an event that can be enjoyed by people regardless of their location and regardless of their film-school or non-film-school background. Having witnessed the enthusiasm from the audience during his speech, I have no doubt that the Let’s Film Festival will indeed continue to flourish for years to come.
For more information about the event, the upcoming web page or to give suggestions for next year’s event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Next year Matt Hazel and I will be taking over the reins, so start thinking of ideas and get those cameras rolling!