EIGASAI 2016 Opening Night Gala
The Japan Foundation, Manila kicked off EIGASAI 2016 with a gala opening and the festival premiere of KAKEKOMI, a feature by special guest director Masato Harada. The event was held at the “home of EIGASAI”, Shangri-la Plaza. Akira: The Art of Sushi and Teppanyaki handled the catering. Guests included members of the Japanese community, the diplomatic corps, the media, local film enthusiasts, and Pinoy Japanophiles. The program officially opened with the hip-hop stylings of award-winning dance group, Philippine Allstars.
Esteemed guests of honor each gave their remarks and congratulations for the continued success of EIGASAI, Japan Foundation Manila’s 20th Anniversary, and 60 years of Japan-Philippine friendship. This isn’t the first time Director Masato Harada, star of the evening, has been to the Philippines. He was previously in the country during the filming for the 1979 war epic Apocalypse Now in the province of Pagsanjan! That wasn’t the only famous English movie Director Harada took part in either, as he played the sly Omura in Tom Cruise’s The Last Samurai.
Director Harada expounded on his feature films a bit more; KAKEKOMI and The Emperor in August were all filmed in Kyoto. He also expressed the hope that one day Filipino directors will travel to Kyoto and shoot films there as well.
His third film in the festival, the Chronicle of My Mother, was shot in his hometown in Shizuoka Prefecture. KAKEKOMI, in particular, was an Edo-Mono film, or a movie set in the time of old Tokyo. He explained that he was inspired by other prolific films, like Akira Kurosawa’s Red Beard.
Unusually, his period films took stories from foreign literature, in this case Russian, and combined them with elements of Japanese culture. It is a testament to Director Harada’s ability to portray authentic Japanese films using non-native sources as well as other directorial influences like John Ford. KAKEKOMI is primarily a relationship drama.
Eschewing the traditional western tradition ribbon cutting, Japan Foundation, instead, treated the audience to a Japanese sake barrel opening, or Kagami Biraki. The Japanese would celebrate summer with opening the first barrel of sake of the season for everybody. Guests were treated to sake c/o One Cup Ozeki Philippines.