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LIFE IS JOURNEY
INTRODUCTION SHORT FILMS x 4 = 51 MINUTES

MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR

"Life is Journey" is a compilation of four short stories - planned, written, edited, directed, and even acted in part by Seiichi Tanabe.
The four stories are entitled, "Life", "N", "Ya" and "Nowhere". The characters all yearn to connect with others, while dwelling in their solitude. Unable to live life alone, they are mirror images of ourselves. The recurring theme, according to Tanabe, is "Life is one long road trip". Accidental encounters and reluctant partings overlap joy and pain on a daily basis - yet no two days are alike.

"Life" portrays half of a woman's life in a one-scene, one-cut, nine-minute sequence. "N" is a comical take on a man abandoned by his lover. "Ya" explores the bond of female friendship as one woman consoles a brokenhearted girlfriend. In "Nowhere", a man and a woman roam the streets of a foreign land in search of lost time.
Each story has a distinct texture, yet each character is rendered with the same sense of warmth.

Extracting very personal emotions, universalizing them, then translating them to the screen is a new approach akin to cinematic poetry. The style is simple, humorous, and above all, beautiful.

The cameramen responsible for capturing the essence of director Tanabe's world are Zensho Sakamoto of "Bounce ko GALs" (97), Hideo Yamamoto of "N", "Ya", "Nowhere", "HANA-BI" (97), "White Out" (00) and "Life". The background music in "Nowhere" is Ryuichi Sakamoto's "lorenz and watson".

A world first!! "Life is Journey" was shot with a Panasonic 24P Mini DV Camera (AG DVX 100) - its usage and effect in big screen camera work may revolutionize the craft of filmmaking.
** Vari-cam is a full scale cinematographic camera by Panasonic and has been used in films such as "Totsunyuu seyo! Asama Sanso Jiken" and various commercials.

Actual filming for "Life is Journey" began in 2003 with "Nowhere" shot in Portugal in mid-April. The film will premiere on June 21st at the Cine Quinto Late Show, and subsequently in theaters nationwide.

SHORT FILMS x 4 = 51 MINUTES

"LIFE" 8 minutes

Cast: Nene Otsuka, Kentaro Kobayashi (Ra-mens), Mikako Ichikawa, Yorie Yamashita, Haruko Kato, and others
Filmed by: Hideo Yamamoto

STORY
A woman walks. While she walks, she sees the man she will eventually meet in the future - as a young child. In time, the two meet and their footsteps become one. She walks through countless events and timeless landscapes, continually, ceaselessly.
And in the shift of time, the woman discovers something...

NOTE
An experimental, innovative short film portraying seventy years of a woman's life without a single spoken line, in a single, uncut scene. The theme is "Life" itself, and various life events are symbolically expressed through the 15 characters, that simply "walk". Director Tanabe held this thematic idea in incubation for nearly 10 years - and finally began filming in October 2002.

After numerous takes, the final product lived up to Tanabe's visionary expectations and was completed in March 2003. The man behind the camera was Hideo Yamamoto of "HANA-BI" and "Ring". According to Tanabe, the second, underlying theme is "Life is like a film that can't be edited".

 

"N" (nihongo -series) 11 minutes

Cast: Koen Kondo (Otona Kikaku), Mikako Ichikawa, K. Tsuda, Mika Mifune, Seiichi Tanabe, Aberdeen, others
Filmed by: Zensho Sakamoto

STORY
A man and a woman sit at a coffee shop. He chats cheerfully, procrastinating the task at hand. She is dead silent. Reluctantly, he begins. The single word that he utters chills the air between them.

"The word I chose - it puts an end to (three years of) our long, long game..."
He walks the town aimlessly. Countless words float by. Foreign words, emotional words, words that have become a part of the air that he breathes. Communication through words - what is it that connects us?
Coming face to face with his shortcomings, he is overcome with the desire to play the game again - with her...

NOTE
This work explores the unique sound and allure of the Japanese language. The nonsensical unfolding of events twisted around "words" is reminiscent of Shuji Terayama - treating the heaviest of themes with a light touch. Succeeding with this experimental approach in a commercial package was Tanabe's directorial challenge. Camera work was mastered by Ohbayashi of "Tenkousei", "Toki Wo Kakeru Shoujo" and "Mizu no Tabibito KIDS" and Zensho Sakamoto of "Kamikaze Taxi" and "Totsunyuu seyo! Asama Sansou Jiken".

 

"NOWHERE"@15 minutes

Cast: hitomi, Seiichi Tanabe
Filmed by: Zensho Sakamoto
Music by: Ryuichi Sakamoto - "lorenz and watson"

STORY
When she woke up on March 23rd, he was gone. With a map in hand, she ventures into the foreign town. A calendar in a shop reads March 24th.

"What day is it?" she asks the shopkeeper.

"It's March 24th. See?"

The street sign reads, "March 24th Avenue". Time and space are intertwined here. She finds him on a hill - searching, too, for the meaning of his existence. Harboring a secret about his birth, he struggles to find himself.

"I'm nowhere", he laments.

The two roam the streets in search for the answers. The "meaning of life". Will they find it there?

NOTE
The script for this work, with its universal theme of the search for the "meaning of life", was written five years ago and shot in Lisbon, Portugal in January 2003. The poetic imagery of the couple's journey through the streets of Lisbon, where time and space are seemingly entwined, is set to the ethereal music of Ryuichi Sakamoto.
The destiny of birth...to live and to love... to be with someone... the passage of time. Life's meaning and answers are woven into the tapestry of this illusionary journey. The film debut for artist hitomi.
Shot on location in Portugal.

 

"YA" (nihongo series)@16 minutes

Cast: Tsugumi, Mikako Ichikawa, Yoji Tanaka, Aberdeen
Filmed by: Zensho Sakamoto

STORY
Heartbroken, she hasn't gotten out of bed in days. Unaware of her anguish, her stomach still rumbles on cue. A girlfriend calls, inviting her out to dinner. Out and about after a long spell, she enjoys the light conversation and cheerful company. Yet, moments of dark introspection engulf her.
Sensing her distress, the girlfriend urges her to go with her to "see something". They ride their bikes in the night air, to discover....

NOTE
The second in the (nihongo series). Dominated by dialogue, the psychological transitions reflected in the subtle nuances of conversation effectively portray a real and believable friendship between the two women. The seemingly ad-lib lines were indeed intentional and painstakingly rehearsed by the two actresses to create this uncontrived effect.

MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR

On Short Films x 4 = 51 Minutes
"Short films and full length feature films are fundamentally different. They are as different as a novel and a haiku poem. It's as if the realm of imagination changes with the physical length of the film.
I started making short films about 15 years ago. I was moved by a short film I saw produced by an independent in New York, and started creating my own at the age of 19.
In this sense, the short film has become an essential part of my life, and the culmination of years of work is what you see here. Four independent episodes, each of a "fragment of life" -- this is what I wish to portray in these short films. It is also a reaction to that short film that inspired me in my late teens, and my personal version - short films x 4 = 51 minutes."

PROFILE

Planning, Screenplay, Casting, Directing

Seiichi Tanabe ---began independent filmmaking at the age of 19. With an acting debut at the age of 23, he put filmmaking on hold until age 28. In 1999, Tanabe made his directorial debut with the critically acclaimed "DOG-FOOD", which was featured in the Berlin International Film Festival. As an actor, Tanabe has won awards for Best New Actor in the Japanese Film Professional Grand Prix (97), Best Actor in a Leading Role in the Houchi Film Awards (02), the Yokohama Film Festival (03) and the Takasaki Film Festival (03).

As a CD-ROM creator, Tanabe won the Independent Award at the Nikkei Digital Publishing Grand Prix in 1997, as well as the Best Package Award at the MITI sponsored Multi Media Grand Prix in 1998

(C)PONYCANYON