Cinemas go off beaten path for summer
By Kwaak Je-yup
Mega-budget blockbusters and horror films tend to get all the attention in the summer but those looking for something less mainstream should not feel slighted.
Three animated movies from Japan and a small film festival showcasing 13 works from around the world are slated to open in the next month, injecting much-needed diversity to domestic cinemas.
The Japanese have long mastered the genre of animated film and the country is one of very few markets with a sizable audience for it, including adults, children and those in between. Though usually anchored on rite-of-passage themes, the movies know no boundaries for imagination, filled with supernatural elements and characters.
Leading the list of three manga features is “A Letter to Momo” by Hiroyuki Okiura, made 11 years after his first work “Jin-Roh.” After making its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, it was released in April in his native country to great fanfare.
Okiura may not be a cinematic household name like countryman Hayao Miyazaki but he has more than 20 animated works to his credit. His opening sequence for Shinichiro Watanabe’s cult hit “Cowboy Bebop” (2001) is widely acclaimed as a masterpiece.
“Letter” is a coming-of-age story of 13-year-old girl Momo, who moves from the urban sprawl of Tokyo to a remote island after her father’s death. In her new home, she finds three monsters in the attic and she has to find the meaning of her father’s last letter with their help.
The other two manga on offer this summer are the latest installments of long-running series, namely “Detective Conan” (marketed as “Case Closed” in the West) and “Doraemon.”
The former, “Detective Conan: The 11th Striker,” is the 16th movie in the franchise, directed by Kobun Shizuno and also released in his home country in April. A 1994 creation of Gosho Aoyama, a private investigator trapped in 6-year-old boy Conan Edogawa’s body finds his case set in a soccer stadium this time, trying to find a time bomb by solving the culprit’s riddle.
Several real-life Japanese professional soccer players, such as Kazuyoshi Miura of Yokohama F.C. and Yasuhito Endo of Gamba Osaka lent their voices to the work.
The latter brings the world’s favorite earless time-traveling robo-cat Doraemon back for an environmental cause. His fifth-grader human friend Nobita and he use a time machine to catch a moa bird, the last of whose species disappeared more than 500 years. The two go to the Beremon Island and encounter quite a few surprises, including a boy who looks like Nobita.
Created by Fujiko F. Fujio in 1969, the character has won numerous awards in Japan and overseas, even becoming the only non-human pick in a 2002 Time Asia poll for the continent’s heroes.
“A Letter to Momo” opens on July 5 in selected theaters. Runs 120 minutes. Rated for general audience. Distributed by Time Story Group.
“Detective Conan: the 11th Striker” opens on July 19 in theaters nationwide. Runs 110 minutes. Rated for general audience. Distributed by CJ Entertainment.
“Doraemon: Nobita and the Island of Miracles — Animal Adventure” opens on July 26 in theaters nationwide. Runs 100 minutes. Rated for general audience. Distributed by Lotte Entertainment.
Multicultural film fest opens Wednesday
CGV Movie Collage holds its fourth Multicultural Film Festival, gathering 13 pictures from around the world that tell the stories of displaced people.
It takes place at CGV’s multiplexes in Guro-dong, southwestern Seoul, Daehakro, downtown Seoul, and Guwol-dong, central Incheon from Wednesday through July 11.
Highlights include “A Better Life,” a 2011 drama by American director Chris Weitz about the lives of Mexican immigrants in the United States, “Le Havre,” Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki’s 2011 comedy about an unlikely encounter between a French author and a young African boy illegally residing in the French port city and “Lost in Beijing,” a sexually-explicit film by Chinese director Li Yu about the lives of migrant workers in the country’s capital.
The festival also offers the rare opportunity to watch two Vietnamese works, namely Nguyen Phan Quang Binh’s “The Floating Lives” (2010) and Cuong Ngo’s “Pearls of the Far East” (2011).
For more information on the Multicultural Film Festival, visit www.cgv.co.kr.