Chris' Daily Diary 4: From Somai to Manila

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Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara's latest from EIFF 2012

I am declaring it official: The Shinji Somai retrospective is a great success.

Jim Hickey, the brilliant former Artistic Director of EIFF, loves Somai. So does David Cairns, a writer and filmmaker who is one of our submissions viewers. David has already written something on Somai for his great blog, Shadowplay. People I’ve never met come up to me in the Filmhouse bar to say how much they are enjoying discovering Somai’s work.

Two of our visiting filmmakers, Atsushi Funahashi (Nuclear Nation) and Toshi Fujiwara (No Man’s Zone), generously agreed to introduce screenings of Somai films over the past few days. Jamie Dunn in The Skinny quoted Atsushi’s description of Somai as a director in a “battle against gravity.”

We’ve already shown some of the greatest films by this too-little-known giant: PP Rider, The Catch, Typhoon Club, Moving. Over the coming days we’ll continue with Somai and hope more people will come to catch the wave.

James Rice, our Programme Manager, the hardest-working man in show business, told me that his brother, not a cinephile, saw three films at EIFF on Saturday: Somai’s Moving, Wang Bing’s The Ditch, and Miguel Gomes’s Tabu (pictured). James’s brother said it was the best day at the cinema he’d had in his life. I think it could be the best film-viewing day anyone ever had, period.

Miguel’s Q&As after our two screenings of Tabu were fantastic: I didn’t ask a single question; he just talked, brilliantly, at length and with humour. Yesterday night while we were on stage another guest, Gastón Solnicki (Papirosen), brought us glasses of Glenburgie, which probably overrelaxed the person who was supposed to ask the questions but did nothing at all to hinder the one who was there to answer them.

Sunday night ended at the Traverse Theatre with a 90-minute improvised concert by The Brockas, a Philippine band comprising filmmakers Khavn De La Cruz (Mondomanila; Philippine New Wave), Lav Diaz (Florentina Hubaldo CTE; Lav finishes his work on our International Competition jury today) and Emerson Reyes (whose MNL 143 had its World Premiere yesterday and screens again on Wednesday). I joined them on bass, and a really great local drummer named Paul Canavan played drums. Lav, his back to the audience, played loud, feedback-drenched guitar solos. I couldn’t really make out what Emerson was doing on guitar but he looked fabulous. Khavn, playing keyboard and occasionally singing, was responsible for the melodic interest of the music. I concentrated on getting into a groove with Paul and trying not to clash with Khavn, which wasn’t hard since he usually played in E minor.


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