Saturday, December 09, 2017

Imperial Hospitality: The Wright Imperial (Part 2)

With all that has been going on recently including Boys for Sale receiving multiple awards (STORY) and being featured in the Japan Times (HERE), as well as a feature about my all of my Japanese-language documentaries in Japan being published in the Metropolis magazine (HERE), one piece of news somehow escaped my attention:  Part 2 of the piece I was commissioned to direct about American architect Frank Lloyd Wright's connection to the Imperial Hotel Tokyo was published in October (!).

The episode opens with Meiji-mura Museum researcher and archivist Nakano Yuko explaining the features of the Wright Imperial lobby which has been painstakingly preserved and reconstructed in Aichi Prefecture.  

Ms. Koike and Mr. Ishihara, both of whom worked in the building designed by Wright and who have a combined 107 years of experience working at the Imperial (!), make another appearance in Part 2.  A link to the column for Part 2 with embedded video is HERE, while a direct link to the video is below:

A link to the column for Part 1 with embedded video is HERE, while a direct link to the video is below:

As part of this project, I also directed a 40-second commercial which was first released in the summer and which now has over a half-million views!

As always, I would like to give a special shout out to our amazing team, including our photography/ lighting department led by DOP Matsudaira Naoyuki with Seki Masafumi and our coordinator/ producer Tanaka Sakae.  And while I composed the main theme music used throughout the entire campaign, it was brought alive by the talented musicians who arranged and played it.  The Main track, Jazz version and Wright version were led by arranger and pianist extraordinaire Onuki Yuichiro, with Tani Motoaki on bass, Adachi Hiroshi on drums and Aki Yoshihisa on violin.  The Japanese and big band versions were arranged and played by the awesome Komitetsu.
Links to the previous episodes I directed for the Imperial can be found below:

Imperial Hospitality (Part 1): Stories from The Imperial Floor (Nov 2016)

Imperial Hospitality (Part 2): Stories from The Imperial’s Bars and Lounge (Feb 2017)

Imperial Hospitality (Part 3): Story from The Imperial’s “Toko-an” Tea Ceremony Room (April 2017)

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Gentle simmer

On Friday, Metropolis magazine published the online version of an article about my documentary career in Japan called "Filmmaking in the Grey Zone: An interview with Ian Thomas Ash" by journalist Andrew Deck (READ HERE).

I was surprised by some of the quotes, particularly the ones at the end where I discuss the nationality of my films and my sense of belonging here.  When I read what I had said during the interview, I thought "did I really open myself up that much to a journalist?!" I own that I said those things and it was certainly how I felt at the time.  But it also comes with some a certain sense of sadness that I can not deny that I at least sometimes feel that way.  I just hope that those quotes are understood by readers within the context of the story I was relating about being stopped by four police officers and searched rather aggressively.

Yesterday, I was honoured to be invited to speak about my work at a lecture entitled "Disaster, Trauma and Hope" at Aoyama Gakuin University (AGU). Arranged by AGU professors Marc Menish and Mariko Hori, it was wonderful to present my work alongside filmmaker Keiko Courdy, Butoh dancer Minami Azu, soprano Junko Menish and poet Kageyama Yuri.

After the lecture, I had a meeting at Las Chicas House, a blast from the past when I used to come down to Tokyo on the weekends when I was still living in Tochigi 17 years ago (!).  As I walked through the lobby, an array of magazines was on display- including the December issue of Metropolis which I had yet to see.
Sitting in a place which held so many memories from when I had first come to Japan and with Christmas music tinged with a nostalgia from what seems like another lifetime wafting through the air, I realized the feelings that had boiled up inside me of during the interview had not yet cooled; they are simply gentlly simmering away on the back burner.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

"Boys for Sale" receives Best Feature Doc in Ecuador!

As the executive producer of the film, I am extremely honoured to announce that "Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE) has received the award for Best Feature Documentary at the 2017 EL LUGAR SIN LIMITES Film Festival in Quito, Ecuador!

「売買ボーイズ」がエクアドルで行われたEL LUGAR SIN LIMITES映画祭の長編ドキュメンタリー部門でグランプリを受賞しました!本当に光栄に思っております。

This is the fourth award the film has had the honour of receiving after the prize for Best Documentary in both the 2017 Durban Gay & Lesbian FF (South Africa) (STORY) and the 2017 Playa del Carmen Queer FF (Mexico) (STORY), as well as the Fox Inclusion Award at the 2017 OUTFEST FF (Los Angeles), a prize sponsored Fox Inclusion, a division of 20th Century Fox (STORY).

お陰様で今回の受賞が4つ目となります。南アフリカにて行われたDurban Gay & Lesbian映画祭とメキシコにて行われたPlaya del Carmen Queer映画祭で ドキュメンタリー部門グランプリ、そしてロスアンゼルスにて行われたOUTFEST映画祭(20世紀フォックス社の一部門であるフォックスインクルージョンによる)Fox Inclusion Awardを受賞しました。これまで応援して下さった皆様に感謝しております。
Since the World Premier in the 2017 Nippon Connection FF (Germany) in May (STORY), "Boys for Sale" is so for set to screen in 28 film festivals in 17 countries across the world (info on Screenings page HERE).  On November 26, the documentary screened for the first time in Japan during the Tokyo AIDS Week event, but so many people showed up that the venue filled up and many had to be turned away (STORY).  We are working to secure some form of distribution for the film so that people in Tokyo and beyond can finally see the film. Thank you so much for your continued support!!!

今年の5月に開催されたドイツのニッポン・コネクション映画祭初上映から17国、28映画祭で上映される予定です。日本でも11月26日にTokyoAIDSWeeks のイベントの一企画として初上映されました。その際沢山の方ご来場下さいましたが、座席の関係で多数の方々が入場出来ませんでした。皆様に見て頂けるように東京やいろんな場所で上映出来るように頑張ります!これからも皆様の応援をよろしくお願いします!

Monday, November 27, 2017

"Boys" in the FULL house

「売買ボーイズ」日本初上映は昨日でした。Tokyo AIDS Week のイベントの一企画として参加できることがとても嬉しいです。詳しくはこちら
Yesterday's screening of "Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE), the first public showing in Japan, was amazing.  Taking place in Nakano during the Tokyo AIDS Week event (INFO), 30 minutes before the screening, the queue was already out the door of the venue with more than 200 people waiting in line.  The problem was that only 150 people would be allowed in...

Even after the seats were filled, dozens of people were admitted into the venue to watch standing from the sides and back of the room, so we were clearly well over capacity.  Still, more than 60 people unfortunately had to be turned away.  Apologizing to them in the lobby of the venue, I promised that we are working to secure additional screenings in Tokyo, including a theatrical release.  
Following the screening, I was honoured to take part in the panel as the executive producer of the film in a discussion led by Community Center akta's Iwahashi-san (WEBSITE), who also appears in the documentary, along with protagonist Ko, a former urisen (male sex worker).

From Twitter user @HINARINAchan (LINK)
From Twitter user @HINARINAchan (LINK)
After the panel discussion, it was wonderful to greet some of the guests who had attended the screening, including a couple of friends with whom I went graduate school in the UK 14 years ago (!) and who surprised me by coming.  

There were also several groups of sex workers from other parts of Asia who were in Tokyo to attend the Tokyo AIDS Week events.  Two guests from Korea approached me to say how much the film had meant to them and asked if they could screen it at a film festival they are organizing to help raise awareness of issues affecting sex workers.  Making connections like this and knowing that the films we make can be used for awareness and education provides such a sense of purpose and serves as motivation to keep making films that may not be commercially successful but for which we receive the humbling knowledge they have the potential to touch people around the world.

Thank you all so very much for your support and encouragement.

Friday, November 24, 2017

"Boys" in the news

Ahead of the first public screening in Japan of "Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE) this coming Sunday (26th), two articles were published about the documentary today.

The first was a FULL PAGE feature about the film and the world it documents in The Japan Times.  Read the online version of the article HERE:

The Tokyo Reporter also published an article about "Boys for Sale" today with an in-depth look at the documentary.  Read the article HERE.

The screening in Tokyo will take place on Sunday, November 26 at 15:30 during the Tokyo AIDS Week event.  The film will screen with English subtitles, while the post-screening discussion will be in Japanese.  Full event details (in Japanese) can be found HERE.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

"Boys for Sale" awarded in Mexico!

On behalf of the entire "Boys for Sale" team and as the Executive Producer of the film, it is my great honour to announce the film has received the award for Best Feature Documentary at the 2017 Queer International Film Festival Playa del Carmen (VIDEO) in Mexico.  This is the third award "Boys for Sale" has been honoured to receive, including at Los Angeles' Outfest (STORY) and South Africa's DGLFF (STORY).

Close to midnight, we received a text from the festival letting us know about the award and asking us to provide a statement for the ceremony that would be held in a few hours.  We quickly wrote one out and sent it to Carlos Fuentes (our translator in Spain who made the Spanish subtitles for the film) to translate.  

Prior to the opening, the festival had requested that we send them a video greeting to use for promotion of our screening.  As our team is spread out over Japan (with some even based or traveling in other countries), we had members send us in short videos of themselves that we edited together.  This was a lot of fun to make and can be viewed HERE.

Screenings of "Boys for Sale" are continuing throughout the world this week, including Slovenia, Ecuador, Spain and Romania (INFO), and we are especially excited for our first public screening in Japan on the 26th (INFO).  More information about upcoming screenings, including our Austrian and Australian Premiers, can be found on the screening page of the film (HERE).

Thank you all so very much for your continued support and encouragement!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

"Boys for Sale" in Japan

「売買ボーイズ」日本初上映は11月26日です。Tokyo AIDS Week のイベントの一企画として参加できることがとても嬉しいです。詳しくはこちら。
"Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE), which premiered in Germany earlier this year (STORY) and which received awards in LA (STORY) and South Africa (STORY) will FINALLY screen in Japan!  During the annual Tokyo AIDS Week event, "Boys for Sale" will screen followed by a panel discussion with Ko, one of the participants in the documentary, Iwahashi Kouta, head of akta (a community group devoted to HIV/ AIDS awareness and education), and me in my role as executive producer of the film.  The screening will take place in Tokyo on November 26.  Event details HERE.

On behalf of Itako, the director of the film and Adrian "Uchujin" Storey, the DOP/ producer, we are so grateful for this opportunity to screen for an audience in Japan at an event which is free, open to the public and dedicated to a topic so important that it was one of the original inspirations for us to make the film.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"Boys" are going South, East and Down Under

This week, "Boys for Sale" will be screening in Mexico (in Tijuana AND Playa del Carmen), Ecuador and Romania!  Details are on the website for the film (HERE).

And this week, the Australian premier of "Boys for Sale", which will take place in February 2018, was also announced (screening information HERE).

Friday, October 27, 2017

"Boys for Sale" called "one of the standout documentaries of the year"

Following our North American Premier in Outfest in Los Angeles in July where the film was awarded (STORY), it was a huge honour to represent "Boys for Sale" at the East Coast Premier in  Outfest's sister festival, NewFest in NYC (INFO).

The screening was well-attended and as we were in the last screening block of the night, there was a lot of time for the post-screening Q&A during which the audience asked many great questions.

Ahead of the screening, it was awesome to be included in Time Out New York's "The best LGBT things to do in New York this week" and in Film Journal International's screening blog (READ).

Following the screening, two great reviews were published as well. The Diva Review called Boys for Sale "one of the standout documentaries of the year" (READ) while James Wegg Review said "First-time director-editor Itako has done the world a huge favour by thoughtfully and unabashedly chronicling the lives of the 'urisen'" and gave the film 4.5 stars (READ).

This week, "Boys for Sale" will be screening in Edmonton's Rainbow Visions Film Festival (Nov 4), Taichung's TIQFF 台灣國際酷兒影展 (Nov 4), Buenos Aires's Asterisco Festival Internacional de Cine LGBTIQ (Nov 5) and Kansas City's Kansas International Film Festival!  More information can be found on the SCREENINGS page of the film:

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"Boys for Sale" awarded Best Documentary at African Premier!

As the executive producer of "Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE), I am so honoured the film received the award for Best Documentary at the African Premier in the 2017 Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival!

This month we have screenings in Atlanta, Taipei, Berlin and NYC (where I will be present at the screening on the 22nd) INFO.  I am so proud of our team, and I think this is a really awesome film!  But don't take my word for it- here's what they're saying about us:

Friday, October 13, 2017

9 more screenings annouced for "Boys for Sale"!

"Boys for Sale" (WEBSITE), the documentary I produced that premiered earlier this year in Germany (STORY) just announced another NINE screenings (!) in festivals around the world from Canada to Romania, including 4 festivals that will be screening the Spanish-subtitled version of the film. 

A full list of upcoming festivals can be found on the SCREENINGS page of the film's website (HERE).

This brings the total number of screenings in international film festivals so far to 22!

I am honoured to help represent the film in the upcoming East Coast Premier in NYC's NewFest (screening info HERE) on October 22.  Thank you for your support and hope to see some of you there!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

"Dying at Home" to be re-broadcast

***** UPDATE October 31, 2017 *****

"Dying at Home" is available to watch for free On Demand until November 13, 2017. LINK

***** END UPDATE *****

Last year, on January 28, I was extremely honoured to have my first documentary commissioned by NHK World broadcast around the world (STORY).  Meeting and documenting Dr. Konta, her amazing team of nurses, and her beautiful patients and their families, was a life-changing time for me.

The lessons that one of those patients, Mr. Hata, taught me about life, family and death, in just a few short months will continue to influence the work I will do in the remainder of my career.  I wrote about my friendship with Mr. Hata on my blog HERE and in this front page article for 2016 year-end Number One Shinbun, the magazine of the Foreign Corespondents' Club of Japan HERE.

I am extremely honoured that NHK World will be re-broadcasting for the second time "Dying at Home" on October 30.  Screening 4 times through the day on the NHK World Channel and (free) app, the times listed are for the timezone in which the website is accessed (HERE).

Thank you all of your support and for watching.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Noise and Boys in London

Several of the films that were screening in Camera Japan (STORY), went on to screen in London's Raindance Film Festival, including "Boys for Sale" and "Noise", so on Monday, I traveled with the "Noise" crew to London.  Our trip included such adventures as running for the plane, getting stopped at the border, one person losing a train ticket, with time for a few drinks along the way; and with two of the "Noise" members never having left Japan and none of them able to converse in English, I was really glad I could be there to help out!  Thinking about it, there's a film in there somewhere... 

Arriving safely in London, we checked in to the festival the next day (the 26th), where I also met up with Adrian "Uchujin" Storey, the DOP/ Producer of "Boys for Sale", whom I hadn't seen since he moved back to the UK from Tokyo last year.  It was wonderful to see him and have a proper catch up, ahead of attending the UK premier together.

This was my third time to attend Raindance; the first was in 2013 with my film "A2-B-C" (STORY) and the second was the following year with my film "-1287" (STORY).  And it was such an honour to be back, this time as a producer.

Described by Abigail Smith in the Raindance Film Festival catalogue as "a punch between the eyes... storytelling you daren't turn away from" (LISTING), our main screening on the the 28th was completely sold out by the Sunday before (the 24th).  The Q&A, led by Gay Times editor, William J Connolly (WEB), was awesome and offered so much context to the sold-out crowd- I am kicking myself for not having recorded it...

As a result of selling-out our main screening and demand for tickets, Raindance scheduled an additional screening of "Boys for Sale" for Saturday morning at 11:00.  It was an honour and a privilege to be able to present the film again, complete with a Q&A with Adrian and me.

In between screenings, it was wonderful to be able to see several close London-based friends as well as to watch many great films (my favourite-- as well as the most disturbing-- was "The Family I Had" INFO).

I then spent the weekend in North Wales with some dear family friends and visiting my mom's grave.  Although it was too short, it was a perfect end to this trip.  

I am now at Heathrow airport in London, getting ready to board the plane home to Tokyo...

Thank you also so very much for your support, thoughts, and encouragement.
Much Peace,
London, UK

Monday, September 25, 2017

Camera Japan, "Noisy" Rotterdam

Although I have had the honour of screening in Holland's Camera Japan Festival three times before (with "In the Grey Zone" in 2012, "A2-B-C" in 2013 and "-1287" in 2014), this year was the first time for me to have the additional honour of actually attending the festival.  Arriving on Thursday (Sept 21), the opening day of the festival, I stayed through the end of the festival on Sunday (Sept 24), experiencing wonderful films, food, and cultural events.

The screening of "Boys for Sale", for which I was the executive producer, was on Friday (22nd), the second day of the festival (INFO), and during the post-screening Q&A,  led by festival director Alex Oust, the audience asked really engaging questions.

 It was a wonderful time to meet old friends like Alex and to meet new ones as well.  Among the new ones, were the cast and crew of the film "Noise", a sharp, reflective feature based loosely around the Akihabara massacre (WEBSITE).

Several of the films that were screening in Camera Japan, went on to screen in London's Raindance Film Festival, including "Boys for Sale" and "Noise", so on Monday, I traveled with the "Noise" crew to London.  Our trip included such adventures as running for the plane, getting stopped at the border, one person losing a train ticket, with time for a few drinks along the way; and with two of the "Noise" members never having left Japan and none of them able to converse in English, I was really glad I could be there to help out!  Thinking about it, there's a film in there somewhere...

~~ to be continued ~~

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Another six Premiers announced for "Boys for Sale"

Following the announcement of six premiers of "Boys for Sale" last month (INFO), SIX MORE premiers of the film were announced today.  The newly announced screenings are listed below and the full list of screenings, along with details and links, can be found on the "Boys for Sale" screenings page (HERE).

As the producer of the film, I am honoured to help represent the film in two screenings in Europe next week: in Rotterdam's Camera Japan on September 22nd (INFO) and in London's Raindance on the 28th (INFO).  "Boys for Sale" will also be screening in Palm Spring's Cinema Diverse on September 22nd (INFO).

Southern Premier
2017 Out on Film (Atlanta, GA)
Screening Oct 3 at 17:30


Asia Premier
2017 InDPanda (Hong Kong)
Screening Oct 8 at 21:45

Taiwan Premier
2017 Taiwan Int Queer FF
Taipei Oct 20~, Taichung Oct 29~
Taipei: Oct 20 at 24:00 & 24th at 22:50
Taichung: Nov 5 at 16:40  

East Coast Premier
2017 NewFest Film Festival
Oct 19-24 (NYC)
Screening Oct 22 at 21:15

Northwest Premier
2017 Twist Queer FF
Oct 12-22 (Seattle)
Screening Oct 14 at 14:45

Berlin Premier
2017 Porn Film Festival
October 24-29 (Berlin)
Screening details TBA