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Brisbane International Film Festival

A few directors and actors appeared at Q and A sessions after screenings of their movies at the recent Brisbane International Film Festival, 2006...

It took one day of shooting for every three seconds of action in the stop motion puppet animation The Book of the Dead.

I went along to see the feature-length film, the second by Japanese director Kawamoto Kihachiro, born in 1925.

He made the film 30 years after reading author Origuchi Shinobu’s original novel.

The spirit world features heavilly in the film.

The director said this was because the spirit world was something he felt was missing in Japanese society.

The director hoped to pose questions to modern Japanese people with the film – about who they were and where they were going.

The story is about obsession and deliverance, and tells about the faith of Fujiwara no Iratsume, a young noble woman in 8th Century Japan.

She spends her time reading and copying pages from the sutras – Buddhism has just arrived from China and is popular with the Japanese nobility.

She appeases the wandering spirit of a prince, Otsu no Miko, who died a violent death at a young age after a court intrigue.

After the film the director answered questions with the help of a young Japanese woman who translated for him.

He would occasionally drop small jokes into his speech.

He made his first stop motion film in 1968 and he showed this short, Breaking of Branches is Forbidden, before his latest feature.

He said The Book of The Dead was a very difficult book to read.

He said any film which was based on that book would be difficult to understand but would be very interesting as well.

And the film was well-received in cinemas in Japan, with many coming back to see the film again – so if people didn’t get the film they could come back and see it again.

The film was partly financed by a frame-by-frame campaign, where people bought a shot in the film for 10000 yen.

Their names appeared in the credits at the end of the movie. He said that the credits went for seven minutes, so there was some Noh music during the credits so you could close your eyes, listen to the music and not get bored.

He brought along the doll used for Iratsume in the film; it was about 30 cms high.

Minor characters were about half that size.

There were 20 wires used to pull the doll’s hair up during a windy scene in the movie, and there was a different face used on the doll for this scene, which was the most difficult part to film.

He said stop motion animation was not about an animator’s technique but about how they made the doll come to life on the screen.

University students made many dolls that appeared in the movie, and he joked that in return he could use the university studio for free.

Three different groups made the film, and it took nine months for shooting.

He said it usually took three years to make that type of film, but the grant he received from the Japanese Cultural Department was on condition he finish it within one year.

He also liked the book Kou and Ryuhou by Shiba Ryotaro.

Also I went along to see Em 4 Jay, and asked the director Alkinos Tsilimidos and the two main actors for some book tips.

The film is about a couple of heroin users in Melbourne who end up robbing convenience stores to support their habit.

Mr Tsilimidos said he thought that from the moment the couple pulled their first robbery, things were never going to happen for them.

The two lead actors Laura Gordon and Nick Barkla had six weeks notice before filming started.

They researched their roles by talking to heroin users – such as prostitutes working in St Kilda, Melbourne- and heroin experts.

Director Alkinos Tsilimidos said it was a three-week shoot.

He said they did their homework so when filming started it went smoothly.

He said it had a small budget, privately financed “and then Film Victoria came in”.

“In a way having a lot of money can constrain things,” he said.

Mr Tsilimidos liked the memoir The L.A. Diaries, by James Brown, which is about the author’s family tragedies, alcohol and cocaine addictions, and his writing, including screenwriting.
Actor Nick Barkla said he was the one who put the director onto the book.

Actor Laura Gordon had read it and liked it, too.

She also recommended The Rose Boys by Peter Rose, which is a memoir about the life of his brother Rob Rose, a promising cricketer and Australian Rules footballer who was left a quadriplegic by a car accident in 1974.
Copyright Simon Sandall.