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Hey boys and girls, here we are at the 2012 Japan Cuts film festival and weíre starting with a chat with a fascinating filmmaker.  After an impressive start with movies like Blue Spring and 9 Souls, writer/director Toshiaki Toyoda undertook a four-year exile from filmmaking after a drug arrest.  Toyoda talked about his time away, his upcoming action flick and his dark and eerie ďart film,Ē Monsters Club.

Dig it!

 

Monsters Club

Toshiaki Toyoda

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  What is it like for you to present Monsters Club to a New York audience?

Toshiaki Toyoda:  Well, the Unabomber {Ted Kaczynski} is not very well known in Japan at all, but thatís different in America, Iím sure.  Yesterday, I was in Greenwich Village in The Big Lebowski specialty store speaking with the shop owner; he said that he hates the Unabomber and he was very saddened to hear that he was a Star Trek fan and that put him off.  So I started to wonder if the Unabomber is really a hated person in the States?  And of course, I was inspired by the Unabomberís manifesto, but Monsters Club is not a story about the Unabomber.

 

LMD:  What kind of research did you do into the world of mad bombers and terrorists like the Unabomber?

TT:  There are a lot of books about the Unabomber in Japan, and of course I researched online, as well, and I saw his documentary on Youtube.  But what intrigued me the most was the story about the Unabomberís brother being the one who reported him to the police.

 

LMD:  Is that where Monsters Club began, when you found this out about the Unabomberís family?

TT:  What intrigued me about the Unabomber was the story about his family, and of course this film depicts a lost family.

 

LMD:  Was there any significance to the fact that the main character, Ryuichi, and his family were wealthy?

TT:  I thought it would be a good contrast because heís living in a mountain lodge right now, so thereís this huge contrast between his affluent family and where he is now.  And of course he sends out bombs to groups like the Japan Society. {Laughs} Or the Rockefeller Fund.

 

LMD:  ďPĒ, the white-covered figure in the ghastly clown make-up that haunts Ryuichi is a stunning and disturbing image throughout the film.  Where did the design for ďPĒ come from?

TT:  Pyuupiru, the actress that depicted the monster is actually an artist and thatís part of his {her} work.  She plasters herself in meat, and she did it much earlier than Lady Gaga.

 

LMD:  What was the inspiration behind meshing Pyuupiruís art into your storyline?

TT:  Actually, Pyuupiru, the artist, heís a she, now.  Sheís a transgendered artist.  Sheís legally changed her name to a female and sheís married to a man, and this aspect of her performance is all about transformation; not only transformation of her body, but her face, as well.  She takes a lot of self-portraits, as well, and I felt I could achieve the idea of transformation {with her art}.  Sheís quite well known in Europe and sheís had a lot of exhibits and I anticipate that sheíll be doing a lot of shows here, as well.

 

LMD:  The climactic scene of Ryuichi walking through the crowded streets of Shibuya with the paint peeling off him is beautiful.  How did you get that shot in the heart of Tokyo amidst all the pedestrians who clearly donít know whatís going on?

TT:  Well, thatís the reality of Tokyo; people will ignore you even if youíre famous.  I mean, we were making snow breeze through the atmosphere and nobody really stopped.  That was a very long shoot, as well, that particular scene.  We stopped the traffic, we had to work with the red lights; it was crazy.  It took three or four minutes to shoot each time, but usually the red lights only stop for two minutes.  We actually did three or four takes and a police car arrived, so we had to get out of the way.

 

LMD:  You didnít get permission to shoot?

TT:  No, you cannot get permits to shoot in that particular spot in Shibuya.

 

LMD:  Youíve worked with Eita before.  What was it about him that made you cast him as Ryuichi the mad bomber? 

TT:  So, Eitaís debut film {Blue Spring} was the film that I directed, but he became known to the world through TV series and commercials.  Heís known as this bright, very innocent, straightforward man, but my impression of him isnít that.  Heís much more naÔve and thereís aspects of him that are psychologically dark, and I wanted to bring that out in him.

Actually, during the shooting of the film, Eitaís father killed himself, so it might be the last time you might see Eita performing to such a profound degree.

 

LMD:  Speaking of the darkness in Eita, thereís so much darkness in this film, though thereís a hopeful note.  Do you feel as a filmmaker, itís your responsibility to present thought-provoking or controversial subjects to an audience?

TT:  I feel that is very important to make controversial or thought-provoking films, because itís a rare opportunity these days to be able to do that and Iím glad I have this chance.  I mean, Iím going to get back on track to my more entertainment {-based} films, but I always consistently want to take the time to make personal projects like this.

 

LMD:  Your fans know you took a break from filmmaking for a few years.  Did coming back after such a long time change your perspective as an artist or the way you approached filmmaking?

TT:  At that time, I was actually living alone on a mountain, so I think that time really inspires me.  But in general, not really, it didnít really change me.  The reason for that is though I was away for four years, I wasnít actually sitting back and relaxing; I was preparing my films and doing a lot of different activities, as well.

 

LMD:  Part of this yearís Japan Cuts film festival is a tribute to the late actor, Yoshio Harada, who you worked with on 9 Souls.  Can you talk about Mr. Harada?

TT:  He was a father figure for me.  There was a festival in {Aoyama?} prefecture and we would always go together.  He passed away on July 19th and the time that 9 Souls premiered in Japan was nine years ago on July 19th.  So, eight of us who were doing 9 Souls will actually do an event in Tokyo on July 19th

 

LMD:  Will you tell us about your next project, Iím Flash?

TT:  Iím Flash is leaning more towards entertainment films.  Of course, while at the same time itís an entertainment film, it depicts the theme of life and death, so itís a tribute to Harada, as well.  I gathered all the actors that I met at his funeral.

 

LMD:  What would you like for people to take away from Monsters Club?

TT:  Well, itís an art film, not an entertainment film, and itís a very poetic film, so itís sort of like you take what you will, but at the end of the day, I hope it energises people.

 

LMD:  Can you please give a message to our readers?

TT:  Iíll be back with Iím Flash next year.

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

July 15th, 2012

 

Special Addition: Toshiaki Toyoda composed a special introduction to the Japan Cuts screening of 9 Souls, which took place on the anniversary of his star, Japanese acting legend Yoshio Harada's passing.  Japan Cuts was kind enough to share it with us.

 Introduction for the Screening of 9 Souls

July 19, 2012 @ Japan Society

Along with the staff, the cast of 9 Souls and Yoshio Haradaís family, I am very happy that 9 Souls is being screened in New York on July 19, the first anniversary of Yoshio Haradaís death. Today, I will be at a screening of 9 Souls in Tokyo, with 8 of the cast members. So I am sorry that I am unable to attend the screening in New York.

9 Souls was released in Japan 9 years ago, on July 19: as it turns out, it is the same day that Yoshio Harada passed away. This made me to feel like there was a magical connection and made me realize the distinctive character of the film.

Yoshio Harada was like a father to me. On the movie screen, Yoshio Harada will live on forever. I havenít seen all the films that he appeared in. That means I still have something to look forward to.

Please enjoy 9 Souls.

Thank you for coming to the screening today.

 

Film Director Toshiaki Toyoda

 

 

 

 

 

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