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KAMACHI
INTRODUCTION STORY PRODUCTION NOTES CAST & STAFF

A 17-year-old youth, Kamachi Yamada,
tried to release himself through drawings,
poems and music. His premature death is now pumping life into us.

 

Introduction 1

"24 hours is way too short for a day"
Kamachi Yamada --- the footsteps of a youth who lived out 17 years of a vibrant life
Kamachi Yamada's life was brought to a sudden end on August 10th 1977. He was just 17 at the time. This talented youth began drawings before turning two, taking people around by surprise. He even composed poems for his mother early in his school days.
His teen life was for music. Kamachi found himself hooked on The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Queen. This was also when he found his first love, which boosted his passion for art.
He always said "24 hours is way too short for a day."
But his life was cut short when he died of electric shock while plucking his guitar one summer day. A life that lasted only 17 years must have been too short for him to fulfill his ambitions. What is left behind are drawings, numbering over 1,000 and lots of poems. With the passing of time, more and more teenagers are coming to feel sympathies toward Kamachi, almost reaching to a point of a social boom.
Kamachi is reviving at last on the silver screen.

Introduction 2

Kamachi's mother Chizuko raves this movie, the first-ever flick on her son
This is a movie full of youth that builds a bridge linking his times and now
Kamachi's works have been on display at museums and exhibitions, winning people's hearts on each occasion. Books featuring his artworks are available, along with CDs that contain the recitation of his poems. TV programs looking into his life have been also aired. But this is the first movie tracing the footsteps of his life. In this movie, Kamachi fell in love, nurtured friendship, faced tough times in entering a top high school. But this flick has more to offer than vivid memories of this youth. Later in the story, the focus shifts to modern day juveniles who use the Internet and mobile phones as major communication tools. This movie poses the questions, What Kamachi's way of life means to them who feel isolated from society? How come youngsters are being attracted to Kamachi even now? and Why his memory never fades away?
This film looks at Kamachi's life from the viewpoints of both youths in the past who shared their school days with Kamachi, and today's youths trying to live their own lives with him. This unique approach won Kamachi's mother's consent for the creation of a movie about him, even though she repeatedly turned down similar offers so far. This movie, which received her best praises, is a work of ever-lasting appeal.

A popular hip-hop dancing unit, Lead, are playing main roles, adding to the excitement surrounding this movie's long-awaited release.

Kamachi's poems spring up, his drawings dance on the screen. Big-names in the Japanese music scene lend their voices to revive Kamachi
This movie adopts two graphic techniques. One of them allows the words of Kamachi's poems to pop up one after another to the recitation by Shinya Taniuchi (who plays Kamachi). You can also see the process of how Kamachi painted drawings due to a special technique that successfully converted his drawings to moving artworks.
Hot singers like Bonnie Pink and Anam & Maki offered to cover The Beatles's hit tune "Please Mr. Postman," and "Twist and Shout," Kamachi's favorites.
If Kamachi were still alive, what melody would he attach to his poems?
This intriguing question prompted Lead to perform a rap version of Kamachi's poem "Arashi no Hibi," another highpoint of this film.

STORY

The film begins in Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture back in the mid 1970s. Kamachi Yamada (Shinya Taniuchi), a junior high school student, always said "24 hours is way too short for a day." He just couldn't find enough time to fulfill his cravings for drawings, poems, and music that never ceased to inspire him. Being a youth who can push his back with his own hands, he declared that he enter Japan's most prestigious university straight on graduation. He also wrote down that he would rise up to the top of the global music scene.
But his ambitions stumbled on a hitch when he failed to get into an elite high school. He took some comfort when his mentor (Tomoro Taguchi) said "students trying to enroll into a good school are competing with other humans. But genuine artists are putting up a challenge against the God."
While studying at a cram school, Kamachi hit it off with Takashi, and soon after had a fateful encounter with Yoko (Fumiko Himeno), who was nicknamed "sweet pearl." Kamachi told Takashi one day "I must be with something beautiful," meaning that he wants to become friends with her.
Unable to resist his longings for her, he dared to confess how much he loved her. Kamachi held out his hand for a handshake, which Yoko shook back after saying "just being casual friends would be not so bad." This was the happiest day of his life.
20 years later, Shun (Hiroki Nakadoi), who spends his days holed up in his own room, puts up a Web site to recruit those who want to go to what he calls "another world" with him. He is the son of Takashi, who is now a practicing doctor. The Web site receives visits of Miyuki (Akane Osawa) and Yuichi (Keita Furuya). They are students who are studying at a cram school where Yoko (Fumi Dan) teaches. Miyuki buys a sleep-inducing drug from Shun. After taking some of the drugs she falls almost unconscious, but is saved by Yoko. Yoko then tells Miyuki how passionately Kamachi loved her, how hard he was trying to live out his own life, memories she has been putting deep in the back of her mind for so long.

Back in 1977, the day Kamachi learned that he had been admitted into the high school was also the day when Kamachi was told by Yoko "Maybe we can't be friends forever." Heartbroken Kamachi was given encouraging words from his best pal, Kosuke (Akira Kagimoto) "You know, no one is so sure about their future however rosy it looks now." Kamachi nodded in agreement. He ended 17 years of his life due to electric shock while playing guitar that summer.
Yuichi suddenly disappears with a message "I will do something big with drugs." Yoko goes after him into downtown Shibuya. Kamachi's words "You should live your life to the full" keeps echoing in the air all the while.

PRODUCTION

Production Note 1

A movie full of creative ideas of director Mochizuki and his staff
"I can't believe the sheer number of artworks Kamachi produced in such a short lifetime." This is what Director Rokuro Mochizuki thought when he first learned of Kamachi. He and his staff had spent considerable amount of time in figuring out the best way to revive Kamachi's energy. They came up with four ideas to achieve this. Using computer graphics to show how Kamachi painted drawings. Arranging the texts of his poems to pop up one after another to give it a rhythmic flow. Transforming one of his drawings from two dimensional works into three dimensional by reproducing its design on a human body. Singing out his poem in a rap version. The last idea originated in director Mochizuki's remarks "if Kamachi were still around, he might come up with some rap tunes. Lead performed this rap live in the film.

Veteran director Mochizuki successfully brings out best performances in Lead
At the early stages of the shootings, Lead members had hard times meeting director Mochizuki's expectations. It is only natural because this was their first try as movie actors ("Pole Toppling," released in March 2003, was shot right after this). Director Mochizuki took each member out in between shootings to give them secret tips, which dramatically improved their performances. Every staff were amazed at his trick, but what they were told is not made public.

Production Note 2

Shootings mainly in Kamachi's hometown
Most of the shootings were in Kamachi's hometown Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture. The schools featured in the film are where Kamachi attended in person. Other locations were selected on the advise of Kamachi's mother Chizuko and his close friends. The shootings lasted about one month with the support of Takasaki and Maebashi Cities, and of local people.

Shinya Taniuchi plays out energetic Kamachi
Lead member Shinya Taniuchi gives energetic performances that won unreserved praises from Kamachi's mother Chizuko. During the shootings, he carried a guitar along all the while, and trained on it even during breaks. He also volunteered to have Kamachi's well-known self-portrait painted on his own body. This was to show how the portrait would move if it had life. His music talent can be seen in a rap version of Kamachi's poem that Lead performed live in the movie.

First Japanese movie to use a computer graphic technology called painting simulation
"Kamachi" is the first Japanese film to use painting simulation, cutting-edge computer graphic technology. It analyzes the process of how drawings are completed, and can reproduce them in the exact order of strokes used in the original works. The effectiveness of this technology is proven when this movie's computer graphic technicians were invited to Hollywood where this technology is still unknown.

CAST&STAFF

Cast Profile:

Lead
A hip hop dance unit whose four members all do singing, rapping, and dancing. Shinya, Akira, and Hiroki went to the same dancing school in Osaka and started performing on the streets in April 2002. Keita joined two months later. Their popularity shot up and nearly 7,000 fans gathered in a park to see their performances in July. At the end of that month, they made a much-hyped debut with "Manatsu no Magic." Lead did an opener for the nationwide summer tour of w-inds, and staged impressive shows before 120,000 fans. The shootings of "Kamachi" kicked off in October. Their second single "Show me the way" was released in the same month, spreading Lead fever across the country. They were awarded the Japan's best newcomer prize for the year. In March 2003, their second film "Pole Toppling" hit the screen ahead of "Kamachi." Their third single "Here goes!" went on sale on 17th that month. Their energetic activities should see no boundaries in the years to come.

Staff Profile:

Director Rokurou Mochizuki
A native of Tokyo, born in 1957. He left the literature department of Keio University before graduation to enter a vocational school, Image Forum Kenkyusyo. Following graduation, he studied under movie director Katsu Kanai to learn screenplay. In 1983, his screenplay for "Shoujo Nawa Ningyo" caught attention of director Genji Nakamura, leading to the creation of its film under his direction. Mochizuki then served as Nakamura's assistant director, writing screenplays for a number of porn films. He made his director debut with "Honban Video Hagu" in 1985. He released documentary access film "Skinless Night" in 1991. This work was shown at film festivals around the world, establishing his international fame. He has since been directing two to four works a year, including "Wicked Reporter" series, "Another Lonely Hitman," "Kitanai yatsu." He won the Kinema Jumpo's best director award in 1997 for "Fire Within" (featuring Yoshio Harada), and for "A Yakuza in Love" (featuring Eiji Okuda). 10 of his works were screened at the Film Festival Rotterdam the following year. In 1999, he directed "Minazuki" based on a novel of Mangetsu Hanamura. Mochizuki received the Japan Inter - Design Forum Award in 2000. His work "Pandora" is included in "Jam Films" (2003), which combines seven directors' short films. He keeps expanding his field with an eye to foreign markets.

Mochizuki's encounter with Kamachi (His comments about Kamachi)
I first heard of his name more than ten years ago. There was something of a boom about him with many TV programs and articles featuring this gifted boy. "He must be one of those youths who are extraordinary sensitive. I'm sorry he died young." This is what I felt back then. I was over 40 when an offer came to direct a film about him.
Boys and girls are beautiful just for who they are, but puberty has an ugly side along with its beauty. Teenagers are carrying wounds deep down inside. This must have something to do with my encounter with Kamachi. You also can meet Kamachi through this movie. I want parents and school teachers to see this movie, and then to talk about it with children. I directed this movie to knock on younger people's hearts. I would be happy if this movie could build a bridge linking generations.

Based on the book by Chizuko Yamada
A native of Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture. Born on April 26th 1937. A graduate of Hosei University's Japanese literature department. She once worked for the predecessor of Japan Tobacco Inc. She is now a nursery's president and Takasaki City's tourism planner for females. She also serves as chairman of a research center of oriental medicine, a medical clinic and a company related to Qigong therapy, and is a member of an international academic panel on Qigong. She is the author of "Kamachi no Umi," which was published by Bungeishunju Ltd. in May 2001. It looks back at her days spent with Kamachi. The novel version of the book was published this March.

Produced by Hideaki Sato
He attended the literature department of Meiji University but left school before completing his course. He then performed some plays in Japan, and went to New York in 1977 to study at The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute for four years.
After returning to Japan in 1982, he established a production company, Dream One. He served as producer and actor in "Bedtime Eyes," which is based on one of the novels nominated for the Akutagawa Prize, one of Japan's top literary awards. He also acted in Akira Kurosawa's "Ran," and Kihachi Okamoto's "Jazz Daimyo" and so on. He set up production consortium CMC in 1988, producing TV dramas and Takashi Ishii's "Gekka no Ran."

Screenplay by Chiaki Watanabe
He made his screenplay debut in 1979 with Toshiya Fujita's "Juhassai Umie." Watanabe wrote for such movies as "Muryoku no Ou," and "Meimon Takonishi Oendan." His screenplays include TV dramas "Aitsu to Watashi," "Wana no Naka no Shichimenchyo," documentary "Rengo Sekigun no Hokai." He also wrote for popular TV dramas, "Sukeban Deka" and "Amaenaideyo." In 1999, he won the second prize in Japan's best scenario contest with "Niseiter, Wakamonotachi." He is set to make his debut as director with "Somalia no Senso."

Music composed by Koji Endo
He started playing jazz guitar at 19, and took part in a series of sessions and studio works to become a composer. He composes and engages in sound-effect editing for TV dramas and commercials, movies, events, and videos. His works include "Bird People in China," "Minazuki," "City of Strangers," "June Bride," "Muscle Heat," "Kishiwada Shonen Gurentai: Bokyo," "Morning Deka," and "One Missed Call." He also plays in an instrumental unit, e-KLAY.

Camera operation by Naosuke Imaizumi
A native of Tokyo, born in 1957. He became camera operator after serving as chief for movies and TV dramas. He worked together with Director Mochizuki for "Fire Within," "Yakuza in Love." Among his other major works are "Ley Lines," Takashi Miike's "City of Strangers," "Keiho," Manabu Aso's "Utsu Bara," Makoto Ohara's "Giwaku," Shinichi Nakata's "Winning Pass."

(C)2004 Nippon Herald Films/Progressive Pictures/IMAGICA/Adness/Pony Canyon/The Sankei Shimbun

(C)PONYCANYON