Get to know actress, writer and filmmaker Ayako Fujitani

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 Audrey Magazine:

When her latest film Man From Reno won the top prize at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival this summer, Ayako Fujitani was initially confused. “Dave [Boyle, the director,] told me, ‘We won!’ and I said, ‘For what?’” she remembers. She laughs. “I had forgotten it was a competition! The project had come such a long way from the [initial] Kickstarter [fundraising campaign]. We had such a tough time even finishing the movie, and we were super happy to even get in the L.A. Film Festival. So when we won, we were super shocked and surprised, in a good way.”

This is the second time the hapa actress (born to Japanese aikido master Miyako Fujitani and American action star Steven Seagal) has worked with Boyle, the first experience being in his 2012 black- and-white indie romance Daylight Savings, in which she had a supporting role as Goh Nakamura’s ex- girlfriend. After that wrapped, Boyle was working on a crime film that started out as a pair of simultaneous mystery stories with vastly different protagonists, a Japanese writer and an elderly sheriff. The sheriff character, who’d eventually be played by Pepe Serna, came from an unproduced screenplay Boyle had written previously, but the Japanese writer Aki was a new addition and written with Fujitani in mind.

I think she has a unique cerebral soulfulness about her that was perfect for the part of Aki,” says Boyle. “While the sheriff’s storyline is more of a traditional police procedural, Aki’s is a bit more emotional and character driven. She is the classic amateur sleuth, but she has secrets of her own that make her darker than your average heroine.”

Aki is a very successful Japanese mystery novel writer who’s not happy about her success for some reason,” explains Fujitani of her bilingual character. “She runs away from her book tour to San Francisco — and runs into a real mystery.”

During post-screening Q&As during the film’s festival run, Fujitani remembers Boyle joking that after she got involved, the Aki character suddenly became super dark. “Before, the character didn’t feel too much regret or sadness,” says Fujitani. “But if she was happy, no one would really care about what she goes through.”

man from reno

[Once] we realized how game Ayako would be to push the character further and further into the darkness, she made all three of us [Boyle and co-writers Joel Clark and Michael Lerman] braver as writers to make the character rougher around the edges. Her fearlessness gave us confidence,” says Boyle.

Though Fujitani wouldn’t describe herself as the type of actress who practices method acting, it was difficult for her to get Aki out of her head. Part of the reason was because they shot many of the film’s foreboding scenes in a hotel room in San Francisco, which was right next door to the actual hotel room where Fujitani stayed during the weeks they were filming in the city. “When you’re basically on the set in the same hotel room the whole time, it’s almost impossible to forget the character,” she says. “It helped my acting a lot, to get into the maze of this world, but I felt like I had no way out.” She laughs.

So after I finished the movie, it was like, I need to go to Hawaii or something!”

A relaxing vacation wasn’t in the cards, however, because Fujitani, also a filmmaker herself, has been working on numerous projects that take her back and forth between the U.S., Japan and Korea. Her short film The Doors, shot entirely on an iPhone 5 without any special lenses, recently played at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas. (It was originally made for the Olleh International Smartphone Film Festival in South Korea.) She also co-wrote a four-episode short film series, A Rose Reborn, a collaboration between acclaimed Korean director Park Chan-wook and the Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna, which stars Daniel Wu and Jack Huston. She is currently developing another Korean short film, a dark comedy that follows a nervous, picky, routine-driven businessman.

She’s very confident and has a great eye and ear for unusual characters and interesting dialogue,” says Boyle of Fujitani’s work as a writer and director. In fact, he often relied on Fujitani’s instincts when it came to the Japanese-language scenes in Man from Reno, which also stars actors Kazuki Kitamura, Yasuyo Shiba, Hiroshi Watanabe and Tetsuo Kuramochi. “We worked with a lot of great translators during the scriptwriting process to make sure the Japanese version would be up to snuff, but a couple of days before we started shooting, Ayako and I did a last brush up that did amazing things for the movie,” says Boyle. “Having her ear at our disposal was huge.”

Man from Reno, which has also won awards at the San Diego Asian Film Festival and Wichita’s Tallgrass International Film Festival, has a theatrical release planned for next spring. Next up, Fujitani is off to shoot a film with Japanese director Takashi Miike, known for bloody cult films such as Ichi the Killer, Audition and 13 Assassins. “After I had been in Korea for a while, I visited Japan, and as soon as I arrived and turned on my Japanese cell phone — which is never on when I’m in another country — I get a call from Miike’s producer,” says Fujitani of the role she seemed fated to get. A fan of Miike’s work, Fujitani said yes before she even read the script. She plays a nurse in a medical drama about doctors from Nagasaki, Japan, going to Kenya. “This is a departure for him,” she says. “It is definitely not one of the horror, crazy-in-a-good-way films that Miike is known for.”

 

“Fast & Furious 6” helmer Justin Lin to direct “Star Trek 3”

Justin Lin Directing Star Trek 3

Variety:

Justin Lin is boarding the USS Enterprise and will direct the third installment in Paramount Pictures’ “Star Trek” franchise.

The hiring of Lin came two weeks after Roberto Orci backed away from the directing gig.

Orci had been hired for the helming job after J.J. Abrams had to exit the sequel due to his commitment to direct Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Abrams directed the first two “Star Trek” reboots in 2009 and 2013.

David Ellison’s Skydance Prods. is producing along with Orci and Abrams. Paramount has not yet set a release date for “Star Trek 3″ but speculation has emerged that the studio will release the film in 2016 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the launch of the original “Star Trek” series on TV.

Patrick McKay and John D. Payne worked on the most recent draft of the script.

Lin directed the third, fourth, fifth and sixth installments of the “Fast and Furious” franchise.

Last year’s “Star Trek Into Darkness” grossed $467 million worldwide, including $229 million domestically.

Hayao Miyazaki working on new project, says “I’m going to continue making anime until I die”

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RocketNews 24:

 

Legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki is in Los Angeles right now, as he’s making a rare trip to the U.S. to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. While we’re sure plenty of fans are excited to see Japanese animation’s most respected figure receive such a prestigious honor, there’s something else for them to be happier about: Miyazaki’s statement that he’s not even close to done making anime.

The Studio Ghibli cofounder has been retired from the business of making full-length, commercial movies for some time now. Be that as it may, it raised peoples’ eyebrows, not to mention hopes, when veteran Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki casually mentioned that Miyazaki still spends every day at the production house he helped build.

Even though Suzuki relayed conversations he’d had with Miyazaki about the possibility of crafting an anime in some format other than a theatrical release, the director himself had remained mum on the subject in his public statements. That changed during an interview with AP reporters ahead of the Academy’s November 8 awards ceremony, in which Miyazaki said:

“I’m going to continue making anime until I die.”

In stark contrast to the complex themes of Miyazaki’s films and even personal life, the sentiments behind his declaration are as pure and straightforward as can be. “I like creating stories and drawing pictures,” he explained.

 

Unlike Totoro, Miyazaki has no time to rest.

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He went on to reveal that planning has begun for a Miyazaki-helmed short to screen at the Saturn Theater inside Tokyo’s Ghibli Museum. While Ghibli’s films have been the Japanese movie industry’s closest thing to a license to print money, Miyazaki’s cut of prior box office revenues, not to mention Ghibli’s massive merchandising arm, mean that he’s not worried about passing up the economic gains of a general release. As a matter of fact, he’d prefer to not think about money at all, stating that “Not having to worry about whether it will be a financial success or not is a big plus.”

 

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If you’re guessing that this is a way for him to get his creative juices flowing again before jumping back into full-length films, though, you’re in for a disappointment. Miyazaki reiterated that he’s done with that, saying he wants to “leave such things to the next generation of animators.”

Again, the project is only in the planning stage, and no timetable as to when it’ll be ready has even been hinted at, meaning it could be years until it’s ready to screen. Still, for many anime fans, a long wait for a Miyazaki short sounds like a pretty good deal.

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Anime news: Hayao Miyazaki Blu-ray collection to be released with special bonus content

 

RocketNews 24:

Miyazaki DVD box

We’re sure many of our readers have seen films by Hayao Miyazaki and know first-hand what it is like to be utterly drawn in to the fantastic yet convincing world he creates. Now, it’s unlikely anyone familiar with Miyazaki’s works will dispute that he is a giant in the anime industry, but a new DVD collection which has recently been announced reminds us just how much of a giant he is.

That’s right, a collection of anime films directed by Miyazaki will be released on June 18, and we have to say the list of movies it includes is impressive. What’s more, the films will all be in Blu-ray and come in a fancy package with extra bonus content! What fan wouldn’t want one of these, right?

There will be eleven movies in the collection — most of them released from Studio Ghibli, but not all — from the very first theater-released film directed by Miyazaki to his latest work, The Wind Rises. Here’s what the box will contain:

 


[11 Miyazaki films in Blu-ray]
– The Castle of Cagliostro 1979 (Miyazaki’s first theater released film)
– Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind 1984
– Castle in the Sky 1986
– My Neighbor Totoro 1988
– Kiki’s Delivery Service 1989
– Porco Rosso 1992
– Princess Mononoke 1997
– Spirited Away 2001
– Howl’s Moving Castle 2004
– Ponyo 2008
– The Wind Rises 2013

[Bonus Disc 1]
– Pilot film from Yuki’s Sun (5 min) 1972 (Pilot for a TV series, entirely storyboarded by Miyazaki himself)
– Three episodes of the TV series Akado Suzunosuke (30 min each) 1972-73  (storyboarded by Miyazaki)
– Promotional music video for the song On Your Mark by CHAGE and ASKA (7 min) 1995

[Bonus Disc 2]
– Miyazaki’s retirement press conference on September 16, 2013 (90 min, uncut)


 

How’s that for a full serving of Miyazkai anime?

And on top of all this, the collection will come in a uniquely designed box made from a special material with Miyazaki illustrations embossed on it.

 

This is what the box is expected to look like, although the actual product may end up appearing slightly different:

 

Miyazaki DVD box 2

Miyazaki DVD box 2 closeup

 

So, fans understandably have reason to be excited about this Blu-ray collection. Unfortunately, though, the collection doesn’t come cheap, at a suggested price of 64,000 yen (US$617) and marked down to 51,192 yen ($494) on Amazon Japan. Some Internet users in Japan have already commented on the steep price, saying that it would be more economical to buy the individual Blu-rays for just the movies that you really like.

Nonetheless, we have a strong feeling that there will be more than enough fans willing to pay that price to be the proud owner of this special Miyazaki Blu-ray collection. Whatever you think of the price, one thing that can definitely be said about the collection is that it’s guaranteed to provide many hours of quality entertainment. After looking at the list of movies included in the collection, we can’t help but be impressed with the volume and quality of the work Miyazaki has produced over the years. The only question we now have is, will Miyazakai remain in retirement, or is there a chance he might make a come back… again? Well, we guess we just have to wait and see on that, and maybe enjoy the movies in the Blu-ray collection in the meantime!

Source: AMAZON.JP via Yaraon (Japanese)

 

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Anime news: Hayao Miyazaki Blu-ray collection to be released with special bonus content

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Famed director Zhang Yimou fined $1.2m for 3 kids, violating China’s strict family planning rules

 

Chinese authorities say film director Zhang Yimou must pay more than $1.2 million in fines for the three children he had in violation of China’s strict family planning rules.

A district government in the eastern city of Wuxi said Thursday investigators concluded that the director of “The Flowers of War” and his wife, Chen Ting, flouted family planning policies by having the children without approval and before they were married.

The fines are based in part on the couple’s annual incomes. The Binhu district government said the couple made about $580,000 in the three years — 2000, 2003 and 2005 — when their children were born.

It says Zhang and Chen have 30 days to pay the fine. They may also seek an administrative review or file a court petition.

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Famed director Zhang Yimou fined $1.2m for 3 kids, violating China’s strict family planning rules