News: Film lineup for 16th annual Boston Underground Film Festival has been announced

The fine folks at the Boston Underground Film Festival have announced the lineup for their 16th annual event (BUFF16) and fans of Asian underground cinema are in for several treats.

Japanese director Sion Sono, a Lost in the Miso favorite, will be having his 2013 film Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (Click the link to see the trailer!) Word has it that the film is less like his recent, more serious work (Himizu and The Land of Hope) and more akin to his audaciously over-the-top four hour epic Love Exposure. BUFF16 offers this synopsis of Why Don’t You Play in Hell?:

“A renegade film crew becomes embroiled with a yakuza clan feud in this bloody ode to 35mm cinema, the thirty-first feature film from Japan’s prolific provocateur auteur Sion Sono.”

Japanese cinema will also be represented at BUFF16 with the 1974 cult classic and Japanese exploitation film School of the Holy Beast. BUFF16 says of the film:

“A young nun seeks to uncover the dark secrets of the Sacred Heart Convent in this nunsploitation classic. School of the Holy Beast is as blasphemous and shocking as it is artistically stunning.” 

The writer of the violently schlocky Tokyo Gore Police, Maki Mizui, will have his directorial debut Kept screened at BUFF16.

The Japanese short film The Tale of Love Suicide, directed by Ken Hirata, will also be showing.

The Philippines also gets some BUFF16 love with EDSA XXX -the latest film by highly-respected Filipino director Khavn. BUFF16 describes the film as:

“Nothing ever changes in the ever-changing Republic of Ek-Ek-Ek. The year is 2030. The place is a Filipino bizarro-future akin to Biff Tannen’s 1985 (but with more palm trees).”

These five films are clearly enough reason for any Boston-area fan of Asian cinema to attend this year’s Boston Underground Film Festival. I’ve personally attended the festival in the past and I can highly encourage anyone in the greater Boston area to support the great work being done by the people at BUFF.
 
BUFF16 starts Wednesday, March 26 and ends Sunday, March 30, and films are shown at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, MA.
 
I hope to see you there!

 

“The Wind Rises” Review: Miyazaki’s last film before retirement mostly soars

Rating: PG-13

Length: 126 minutes

Director: Hayao Miyazaki 

Stars: 

 Jiro Horikoshi – Joseph Gordon-Levitt (voice)

Honjo – John Krasinki (voice)

Naoko Satomi – Emily Blunt (voice)

The animated film The Wind Rises is a monumental moment in world cinema, as it is not only legendary Japanese animated filmmaker Hayao Miyzaki at the top of his game, but also it being his last film before retirement. Interestingly, The Wind Rises is also his most provocative.

The film has caused a bit of controversy in Miyazaki’s native land as it is a fictionalized WWII-era biography of Jiro Horikoshi (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the aeronautical engineer who designed the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane – an aircraft that would be used by the Japanese Imperial Navy to attack Pearl Harbor.

The Wind Rises, which harkens back to the sweeping Hollywood epics of yore, tells the tale of the starry-eyed Horikoshi, whose dreams of one day building elegant and beautiful airplanes come true – a reality that will inflict heartache upon not only himself but the whole world.

The story is composed of two realities – the everyday world where Horikoshi and his friend and fellow aeronautical engineer Honjo (voiced by John Krasinski) design dependable and state-of-the-art aircrafts, and a fanciful realm where Horikoshi dreams he meets Italian aircraft designer Gianni Caproni (voiced by Stanley Tucci). Caproni encourages the film’s protagonist to pursue his aeronautical ambitions. In a commendable display of artistry, the 73-year old Miyazaki expertly weaves together these two tonally disparate threads. It’s jaw-dropping sequences like this film’s seamless transitions between realities that has one wishing Miyazaki will knock it off with this retirement nonsense.

While sublimely crafted, The Wind Rises does, at times, become tedious to watch. Miyazaki’s storytelling flourishes best and most brilliantly when the story is centered in the ambitious dream world of Horikoshi – not surprising when you consider the vast majority of his work have been fantasy films, such as  Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Howl’s Moving Castle.

The dream world scenes with Caproni are delightful, but become few and far between as the plot becomes more centered around Horikoshi’s romantic relationship with Naoko (voiced by Emily Blunt). While ultimately touching, for most of the film the pair’s blossoming romance feels schmaltzy and, at times, verges on almost seeming nonessential to the film’s overall plot. Fortunately, Miyazaki corrects this mistake right before the film’s conclusion.

In many ways, outside of the film’s incredible visual flare, The Wind Rises is most interesting when one begins to think about the underlying message of the film – war fosters innovation in science and engineering, and that innovation will bring about misery long before it brings about good. The airplanes of grace and beauty that fill Horikoshi’s dreams must first become flying instruments of death, as he is being funded by the Japanese military/industrial complex. There are just a couple of scenes where either Horikoshi or another character show reservations about their work. However, they are fleeting as the characters are determined to bring their dreams to life.

One cannot watch The Wind Rises and walk away without feeling a bit unnerved. You’ll share in Horikoshi’s excitement as his plane pass its test flight in the film’s climatic moment. But after you’ve finished rooting him on, you’ll feel a sense of dread. Perhaps Miyazaki’s most important message with The Wind Rises is that an artist is a slave to his creative ambitions – no matter the final cost.

Apocalypse Now: The back-story to “Snowpiercer” has been revealed in an animated short

Just how did the passengers of the Snowpiercer – a colossal train that never stops running – wind-up aboard their new home? Well, according to the animated prequel to Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer that has recently surfaced online, they fought tooth and nail to procure their seats.

With a visual storytelling style similar to that of a motion comic, the 4-minute animated prequel does a serviceable job in succinctly telling the back-story to the upcoming Sci-Fi film (it opens in South Korea on August 1), and will give those who view it a better understanding of the film’s world.

That being said, this clip does not seem as if it’s required viewing for those who wish to see and enjoy the film. Undoubtedly, much of Snowpiercer’s back-story will be touched upon in the film itself. However, this animated prequel provides viewers with a brief yet entertaining world building story that will surely whet the appetites of fans who are eagerly awaiting the film.

Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer is based on Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette’s French graphic novel Le Transperceneige and stars Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Song Kang-ho, John Hurt and Ed Harris.

Takashi Miike + Tom Hardy = “The Outsider”

images-1

images

Oh wow…

Oh wow, indeed.

The magnificent English actor Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Bronson, Inception, The Warrior and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and controversial Japanese director Takashi Miike (the director of such great Japanese films such as : Audition, The Bird People of China, Ichi the Killer, The Great Yokai War and 13 Assassins) are rumored to be teaming up for the film The Outsider. 

Taking place in the aftermath of WWII, The Outsider tells the story of an American G.I. who, after becoming an American prisoner of war, later works his way up into the ranks of the Yakuza (the Japanese version of organized crime).

How can the prospect of such a film not send shivers up the spines of film enthusiasts?

Hardy, when need be, can easily play the role of a lovable and menacing brute, (Bane from The Dark Knight Rises) is in talks to be directed by one of the best cinematic agitators of all time, Takashi Miike.

Based on an original story idea by John Linson (Executive Producer of Sons of Anarchy), The Outsider was scripted by Andrew Baldwin.

Please leave your comments below as I’d love to hear people’s opinions on this film!

News: The Independent Film Festival Boston winners have been announced

Photo courtesy of iffboston.com

Photo courtesy of iffboston.com

 

 

 

 

 

The winners of the 2013 Independent Film Festival Boston have been announced in an official press release given by the festival:

The 2013 Independent Film Festival Boston (IFFBoston) came to a close on Tuesday night, April 30th, with a screening of the film IN A WORLD…with writer/director/star Lake Bell in attendance. Roughly 100 guest filmmakers, celebrities, and special guests were in attendance at the festival including new festival Creative Advisor Casey Affleck, actor Fran Kranz, director Bobcat Goldthwait, director James Ponsoldt, Writer/Actor/Director Lake Bell, Governor Deval Patrick, First Lady Diane Patrick and numerous others. Films were shown in Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville over a total of 9 screens. This was the festival’s 11th year.

The jury and audience award prizes have been announced and are as follows:

Narrative Feature:
Grand Jury Prize Winner: THIS IS MARTIN BONNER directed by Chad Hartigan
Special Jury Prize Winner: HOUSTON directed by Bastian Gunther
Audience Award Winner: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING directed by Joss Whedon

Documentary Feature:
Grand Jury Prize Winner: DIRTY WARS directed by Richard Rowley
Special Jury Prize Winner: REMOTE AREA MEDICAL directed by Jeff Reichert & Farihah Zaman
Audience Award Winner: BEST KEPT SECRET directed by Samantha Buck
Karen Schmeer Award for Excellence in Documentary Editing: Francisco Bello for OUR NIXON

Short Film:
Grand Jury Prize Winner: THE LAST ICE MERCHANT directed by Sandy Patch
Special Jury Prize Winner: SLOMO directed by Joshua Izenberg
Audience Award Winner: WORLD FAIR directed by Amanda Murray

The Narrative Feature Jury was comprised of. Writer/director/actor Jonathan Lisecki, actress Kate Lynn Sheil, and propmaster David Gulick. The Documentary Feature Jury was comprised of Ben Fowlie (Camden International Film Festival/ The DocYard), Rebecca Richman Cohen (War Don Don, Code of the West), and Tim Cawley (From Nothing, Something). The Short Film Jury was comprised of filmmaker Kris Avedisian (Donald Cried), professor Zak Lee (Fitchburg State University), and writer/director Jody Lambert (Of All The Things, People Like Us).

Prizes included a a $500 cash prize from the Karen Schmeer Editing Fellowship (goes to Francisco Bello, OUR NIXON) and a choice of two of the following: HDCam, Blu-Ray for Projection, or DCP from Modulus Studios (goes to Sandy Patch, THE LAST ICE MERCHANT).

More information on the festival will be available shortly on the festival website at http://www.iffboston.org.

Why We Watch (Part 4) Conclusion – Let’s wrap up on what we learned with a little podcast

Above I’ve embedded a podcast where I discuss what I’ve learned by asking my fellow film bloggers why we do what we do. I want to thank the blogs http://www.genkinahito.wordpress.com and http://www.scumcinema.com for discussing their passion in global cinema with me and for telling me “Why we watch.”

Why We Watch: A Lost in the Miso Exclusive (Part 3) – Chatting with S.C.U.M. Cinema’s Monkey Fist, Topo Sanchez and Mountain Monkey

The Why We Watch interviews conclude with a chat with Monkey Fist, Topo Sanchez and Mountain Monkey – the creators of the blog and film society S.C.U.M. Cinema.

Editor’s Note: I conducted my interview with these three men via email. Some questions were answered individually and some answered as a whole. “S.C.U.M. (all)” denotes that the answer was given by all three interviewees.

First conceived in 2007 by Monkey Fist as simply S.C.U.M., S.C.U.M.’s main objective was to hold “regular public screenings of non-mainstream films for like-minded folks in Singapore.” Due to issues with “obtaining screening rights from copyright holders,” S.C.U.M. would collapse but would eventually resurface as S.C.U.M. Cinema and this time, Monkey Fist had his friends Mountain Monkey and Topo Sanchez by his side. Together, these three men have created a blog where they review cult films from around the world, new and old, and continue to work towards their ultimate goal of holding film screenings in Singapore.

I talked to them about why we watch films that are, as they say, “weird and the bizarre.” The answers they gave are interesting and quite humorous. They are undoubtedly extremely knowledgeable in cult film and I walked away from the interview with at least ten movies I’ve never heard of before that  I need to get copies of and watch!

Lost in the Miso: When was S.C.U.M. Cinema created? Could you give a brief history of your film society?

S.C.U.M (all): S.C.U.M was first conceived by Monkey Fist in 2007.

Monkey Fist’s main objective at the time was holding regular public screenings of non-mainstream films for like-minded folks in Singapore. The intent was not about making a profit but rather sharing a passion for cult films with fellow movie buffs. Monkey Fist faced challenges in obtaining screening rights from copyright holders – as most distributors did not respond to Monkey Fist’s requests, the initiative died a natural death after several screenings.

Though S.C.U.M. became dormant in 2008, Monkey Fist’s passion never waned. He was good buddies with Mountain Monkey and Topo Sanchez and they’d been holding film screenings at each other’s homes for years. Early in 2013, Topo Sanchez threw up the idea of reviving S.C.U.M. and ‘re-branding’ it as ‘S.C.U.M Cinema‘, and that’s how we have the current incarnation.

In its current form, we’ve decided to expand the scope of S.C.U.M. and include a blog to review new ‘cult’ films as well as older ones we’ve watched over the decades – we of course want to maintain the key mission of S.C.U.M., which is to hold film screenings in Singapore, and we’re working hard towards this objective.

LITM: You’re a film society focusing on “the bizarre and weird” in film. Why is there such an attraction to these types of films? I as well love these types of films and was wondering if you could give your thoughts onto why they are so appealing to people like us? Most people are turned off by “the bizarre and weird” and yet, here we are, blogging about those very things with a certain fanaticism.

Monkey Fist: I believe a lot of it has to do with my upbringing in Singapore. As for myself, I grew up in an environment where movies were very much a part of my life. It helped that my brother and mother enjoyed a broad spectrum of genres (mainly from the US and Hong Kong) — from horror to drama to kung-fu. Since I was a kid, I’ve always had a deep fascination for monsters and it was only natural that I started delving into the horror genre since I was about five. With time, this expanded to cover other genres such as science fiction, tokusatsu and anime. And of course, having a rental video store around the corner helped the cause!

Topo Sanchez: These alternative films are interesting to us, because they seem to explore the ‘forgotten’ areas of the human nature/psyche. Like mirrors to our imagination, we daydream and ask curious “what if?” questions in our heads, these films simply translate our questions onto celluloid. So the itch that you can’t seem to scratch, is now given a form and put in your hands. I guess people who love these bizarre movies are usually the curious ones who love to stretch their mental and visual vocabulary. Or maybe we are just sick hahahaha…

LITM: It’s probably a little bit of both haha.

For you, personally, what movies did you see growing up that exposed you to “the bizarre and weird”? Can you look back and say, “Yeah, that movie is why I got so deep into this stuff later on. It opened the floodgates?”

Monkey Fist: Yes, definitely. An American Werewolf In London, Lifeforce, Without Warning, Sinbad and The Eye of The Tiger, Critters, City of The Living Dead. These a just some of the flicks that have spurred me deeper into film.

Mountain Monkey: I grew up in the UK and Singapore during the ’70s and ’80s, so I was exposed to a mix of Western and Asian films: Alien, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Thunderbirds and the UFO TV series, Shogun Assasin, ‘Wuxia’ pictures like Drunken Master and Shaolin Temple, as well as quirky Hong Kong movies from the 80s, including Aces Go Places and Mr Vampire.

Topo Sanchez: Being the youngest of three sick brothers, I had the luxury of being exposed to all sorts of film and music genres at a tender age of eight. I couldnt understand porn, but I had a good laugh watching Toxic Avenger. At that time, it was the era of VHS tapes, and the holy grail were Akira and Clockwork Orange. I think I was exposed to Clockwork Orange at the age of 10 or 12. From then on, it was movies like Tetsuo: Iron Man, Nekromantik, Fist of the North Star that satisfied my curiosity. But I must say, El Topo had a profound effect on me. I remember having my lunch when I was watching that, and the movie shocked/confused me so much that I couldnt decide to breathe or to eat.

LITM: How do you usually view the films you review or watch for pleasure? One of the problems I’ve encountered in trying to review off-beat films, foreign films in particular, is that, at times, it’s very hard to even obtain a copy of the film I want to watch. Do you attend film festivals, purchase films on Amazon or Netflix, or have you found a good underground community that shares films back and forth with each other?

S.C.U.M. (all): We’ve obtained these films through online retailers like Poker Industries and HK Flix. Unfortunately, they have since closed and we get our stuff mainly from Amazon. During the early days, we collected these films via different formats (e.g. VHS, laser-disc and VCD). Staying in Singapore does help in terms of our proximity to other Asian countries like Hong Kong. The video shops back in the ’70s and ’80s carried a lot of films from Hong Kong.

We do also attend film festivals. The most common one all of us attended regularly was the Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF), which started back in the 1980s. The SIFF used to screen an excellent selection of classic and contemporary cinema from all over the world, but unfortunately became more commercial through the years, and went into hiatus last year. It remains to be seen what will happen to the SIFF. In the meantime, there are mini-film festivals (for example, the French and Japanese Film Festival), which are held in conjunction with the embassies interested in showcasing movies from their countries.

LITM: What’s the greatest length you’ve gone to see a movie you just had to see? I spoke to one blogger and they rode a train for several hours to get to a film festival. I have paid over a hundred dollars to get a hotel room in Boston a couple of times so I could see midnight showings of films that I could have seen alone, but I wanted to see them with fellow fans. For example, I had seen Oldboy many times but really wanted to experience the film with a crowd.

Monkey Fist: I guess the dynamics differ from country-to-country. Over in the US, I believe the market is a lot bigger and therefore there can be more film festivals that cater to different niche markets. It is different in Singapore. Cinema operators tend to stick to films that can sell versus putting something totally off-beat out there but bombs at the box-office. Therefore, the festivals held here do have that run-of-the-mill feel to it and seriously, nothing really to die for.

This is one of the main reasons why S.C.U.M Cinema has been revived. To basically showcase weird and off-beat gems from past till present!

LITM: Final question: What have you found works best for your site? Is it news items, features or reviews? What generates the most viewership for your site? What is personally the most fulfilling (reviews or news)?

S.C.U.M. (all): Well, the website was launched on March 25, 2013, and we’ve been tweaking it a little here and there, so it’s still early days yet. At this juncture, it seems that movie reviews tend to have higher viewership. The site was set up with two clear objectives in mind: To review films that we’ve seen and to showcase some of these gems via screenings in Singapore. We’re also looking into expanding the site to include features such as interviews with local directors, and also soundtracks, which will come mainly from Mountain Monkey, who is an avid soundtrack collector.

Since all of us at S.C.U.M. have day jobs and families to take care of, maintaining the site and getting the screenings underway will be a challenge, but we’re all determined to make this latest incarnation of S.C.U.M. last.
———————————————————————————————————
I want to thank Monkey Fist, Topo Sanchez and Mountain Monkey from S.C.U.M. Cinema once again for taking the time to coordinate this interview. Much appreciated and I, Michael from Lost in the Miso, wish these three the best in one day of holding their very own film festival in Singapore!

Tune in for Part 4 (the conclusion) of the Lost in the Miso exclusive: Why We Watch. I’ll be posting a podcast where I’ll answer the very questions I’ve asked other film bloggers!

Why We Watch: A Lost in the Miso Exclusive (Part 2) – An interview with Genkinahito’s Jason M.

I begin my series of Why We Watch interviews with Jason M. from Genkinahito.

Jason, a blogger since 2009, tells of how he first get a taste for foreign films (spoiler: a heaping helping of Hong Kong Jackie Chan films and the diverse programming on UK television gave him the bug for global cinema) and what, in his opinion, are the best foreign film distribution companies at the moment. Jason also gives his opinion on the ethics of fan subtitled movies and whether he thinks his studying of the Japanese language has helped him understand Japanese films on a deeper level.

Editor’s note: I’ll be referring to Jason by his blog’s name during the interview as I want to promote his great blog.

Lost in the Miso: How did you discover Japanese Cinema? Was there any particular film(s) that really got you into the genre?

Genkinahito: I have always watched foreign films. I started with Hong Kong films because they were easily available in the UK, titles from Jackie Chan when he was making things like Police Story. UK television was pretty good when I was growing up because foreign films would be screened regularly and there would be seasons dedicated to France and Japan. I think I spent most of the 90′s watching anything about Japan and China that the BBC and Channel 4 would screen, even if I was a little too young to be viewing such things. Cable channels also helped.

LITM: What made you decide to start a blog in the first place? How long have you been doing it for?

Genkinahito: I have been blogging since December 2009. I decided to start doing it because I love writing and I love writing about Japan, films and anime. I blog in order to raise awareness of great films and find other fans who I can start a conversation of sorts with.

LITM: I’ve noticed you put content up on Genkinahito on an almost daily basis. Given that you live in the UK, how are you able to gain so much access to Japanese films?

Genkinahito: I follow Japanese film websites and I purchase a lot of films – there are a lot still waiting to be watched, never mind reviewed! I have been buying films since… the 90′s and I started importing quite a lot in the 2000′s.

LITM: From what I’ve seen, their are a lot more UK distributors of Asian films than here in the US. Does that sound like an accurate assessment?

Genkinahito: There are a lot of film distributors in the UK and a lot of cinemas willing to show foreign films that these distributors release. I think there’s a deep interest in East Asian culture that stretches back quite a long time. It’s the other way around with anime. The UK anime industry is pretty dependent on bigger markets like the US and EU for its more up to date anime releases.

LITM: Now that we’re on the topic of foreign film distribution, what are some of your favorite distribution companies that put out Japanese or Asian films?

Genkinahito: There are quite a few distributors who release Japanese films in the UK but I’ll focus on three who have had the biggest impact on me:

First and foremost is Third Window Films who specialize in the more indie and more contemporary titles that get released in Japan. These titles tend not to be picked up by major distributors because they lack easy labels like Extreme Cinema or Art House. As a result of their aim to get titles that are slightly off the beaten track, we get a diverse and rich mixture of dramas, thrillers and comedies which give a better insight into Japan than any other film label offers.

The second label I love is Eureka with its Masters of Cinema label. These guys specialize in classics of World Cinema from the 30′s to the 2000′s but they have a large catalogue of films from Japan. They are essential for providing a catalogue of titles from titans like Akira Kurosawa and Kon Ichikawa to Japanese New Wave directors like Shohei Imamura. I think a direct American equivalent would be Criterion (who I have bought from).

The third label is Palisades Tartan. These chaps used to be a British outfit who specialized in releasing Japanese titles like Audition, Ringu, Chaos, and Battle Royale in the early 2000′s. The best thing about this label was the fact that they took their titles into cinemas across the nation and I was fortunate to watch a lot of them. Then they ran into financial difficulty and got bought by an American company and have never really been the same again – fewer Asian titles and no cinema releases that I can remember.

There are other labels that exist who provide the works of Takeshi Kitano and Ozu but the above three have been the most important for me.

LITM: There is a growing culture of “fansubbing,” have you ever used fan sub sites to view Japanese movies? (Editor’s note: “fansubbing” is an act where fans of a film or television show subtitle a movie on their own or   with a group of similarly interested fans, and release the newly subtitled work online where they can be viewed by foreign fans online)

Genkinahito: Sometimes. I always try to buy films but sometimes Japanese films don’t get released in the west and the import barrier – cost, production – can be too high. Sometimes these films don’t even get a DVD release in Japan at all. If you pursue the works of a director passionately then you buy as much as you can legitimately. If there are no alternatives then you turn to whatever source you can find. I don’t advocate fan subs but I won’t denounce them either.

LITM: Have their ever been any movies or television shows you’ve been dying to see but you just can’t find any access to them? This has certainly been a problem I’ve run into multiple times since becoming a fan of foreign film.

Genkinahito: Older V-cinema releases from Kiyoshi Kurosawa from the 90′s. I love, love, love Kurosawa but getting those films is tough.

LITM: I understand that you’re in the midst of learning the Japanese language, Are you at a proficient enough level where you can watch a movie in Japanese and figure out what is going on?

Genkinahito: Sometimes. My reading skills are at a decent enough level to allow me to read signs/text and gain a better contextual understanding. I can understand snatches of dialogue but I really need to work on my listening skills. I wish I were better but most of the time I rely on subtitles.

LITM: How would you describe the Japanese and Asian film fan community on the blogosphere? Are we helpful to one another or are we all pretty isolated from one another?

Genkinahito: The Japanese and Asian film fan community are… I’m tempted to say close-knit but I’m not sure. Bigger blogs operate things like the Korean blogathon and whatnot but I get the feeling a lot of us are too busy running our own sites to continuously keep in contact, but when we do stay in contact, we are very helpful. That said, when contact is established and kept up it is fantastic. There are few people in my day to day life who love films/anime as much as fellow cinebloggers/anibloggers. Blogging has brought me into contact with them in real life and it has been like meeting a new set of friends.

LITM: Have you ever experienced the thrill of the hunt when looking for some of the more obscure Japanese movies? I’ve experienced this quite a few times and it’s a wonderful feeling. It’s not always an easy task but it’s so enjoyable when you are finally able to obtain a film you’ve been sniffing around for.

What’s the farthest length you’ve gone to see content for your blog? For myself, I’m actually planning on purchasing a Region 2 DVD player as Third Windows releases a lot of Japanese films in the UK that I’d like to watch.

Genkinahito: It’s never about content for the blog, just enjoyment of films and thinking about them. I love them and I am fortunate that I have a multi-region DVD player so I import from everywhere and anywhere (including the US) but the most extreme example of me going somewhere to get content for my blog was attending the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival. This will sound silly to someone living in a huge country like the US but I live 2 hours away by train from London and don’t visit it often because of the distance and money involved but I loved the films enough and the idea of attending a film festival to make the journey and stay in a hotel. It was one of the best decisions I ever made because now I travel to London quite a few times a year.

I applaud your efforts on getting Third Window Films releases! You should look into programming DVD players to become multi-region.

LITM: Final question, Jason. What have you found works best for your site? Is it news items, features or reviews? What generates the most viewership for Genkinahito? What is personally the most fulfilling (reviews or news)? I’m quite impressed with the variety of content your site provides.

Genkinahito: Thanks for the compliment. Sometimes I think it’s too scatter shot and I look at other bloggers and wish I could be as insightful. Anime provides the most viewership, especially when images are involved.

As far as what I find fulfilling and content. I have a job (essential for purchasing films!) and I study Japanese and I want to watch films and anime so time can be short. The easiest thing to write are trailer posts and they are a life saver when I have so little time but I really like going in depth with reviews and features. I’m happy writing full stop but I prefer writing reviews, especially ones like Poetry, Tetsuo Iron Man and Attack on Titan. I love thinking about the films and anime and putting my thoughts online to see what people make of them. While news is important it never quite satisfies me unless its something directly useful to an audience such as giving details of festivals/forthcoming releases or its about something I am passionate about.

I, Michael from Lost in the Miso, would like to thank Jason M. for taking the time to discuss his passion for film.

Coming up in Part 3 of Why We Watch, I speak to Monkey Fist, Mountain Monkey and Topo Sanchez from the blog and film society S.C.U.M. Cinema to get their thoughts on why they blog about foreign and independent films! Stay tuned!

Why We Watch: A Lost in the Miso Exclusive (Part 1)

Lost in the Miso exclusive: Film bloggers talk about their love of Japanese and other foreign film, the difficulties of pursuing a foreign film hobby and why they blog about it. Due to the sheer size of this content, I’ll be breaking it up into parts.

Why We Watch: Part 1
I always wanted to blog. For several years I mulled over the idea of making one, eventually I grew content just reading and enjoying other people’s blogs. “I’ll get to it eventually,” I told myself.

Fast forward to May 2013, and life’s a lot different. As part of a college assignment for a Writing for Online and Social Media class, I have had to create and maintain a blog for the last several months. When I first discovered my classmates and I would have to create a blog and integrate it with other social media sites, e.g. Twitter and SoundCloud, I was a bit stressed. What was I going to write about?!

Thankfully, I did not anguish over a topic for my blog for very long. My professor, a fellow blogger, gave our class the obvious answer: write about what you love.

So that’s pretty much how Lost in the Miso was birthed into existence. I love foreign and independent film, with an emphasis on Japanese cinema. So why the hell wouldn’t I write about it?

And I’m so glad that I have. I’ve done some really fun things for this blog: I have attended a film festival where I was able to interview a film director, trekked into Boston during a snowstorm to see an independent film so I could write a review for it, discovered how painless SoundCloud is to use and, most importantly, I’ve networked with several really passionate and helpful film bloggers.

I reached out to several foreign film bloggers, via email, to ascertain why they blog about this stuff: the wonderfully knowledgeable Jason M. from Genkinahito (he knows his Japanese films!) and three great guys from S.C.U.M. Cinema: Monkey Fist, Mountain Monkey and Topo Sanchez (don’t let their names fool you, these are three very courteous and humble guys!)

A fascinating thing about these two blogs is that they originate from two different parts of the world: The United Kingdom and Singapore. It became quite clear early on into my research on foreign film bloggers that a love and interest in exotic cinema is not exclusive to any particular region in the world. People from all around the world are inherently curious about other cultures. Art (film, literature, television and music) is a universal language and, no matter how different another culture’s customs may seem, it is imbued with certain similar characteristics that make it more palatable for the foreigners who seek to consume it.

In Part 2 of this Lost in the Miso exclusive, Why We Watch, I’ll interview Genkinahito blogger, Jason M., who discusses how he developed an interest in foreign film, how he goes about finding foreign films to blog (it’s not always easy, folks) and, most importantly, Jason M. tells us why he blogs on the topic.