Six months after 9.11


It is just six months since the earthquake.

I pray anew, from the bottom of my heart,

for the repose of the victims souls.


I did not know what to do in such an unimaginable situation,

so I considered my options.

Then, on the 14th March, I quickly started the contribution site,

SUPPORT JAPAN-Gambare via the internet fundraising site

called JustGiving. At the time I wrote down my feelings

and asked people to click on the site if they shared my sentiment.


Thereafter, during the ensuing six months,

I received a lot of offers for charity screenings from overseas.

However, despite everyone having good will and meaning well,

it sometimes backfired on the very people they are trying to help.

I faced the stark reality of Good intentions can backfire.


What do the injured people in the disaster area need? I asked myself.

Meanwhile, I had to judge the good will of people from

all over the world, who presented me with offers to help.

I had to use my own judgement to evaluate my levels of

cooperation. The reality of that caused me a lot of heartache

and soul searching.


Here is the list of thirty-eight people who were the first

to help Japan with their all their hearts.

The amount donated achieved 201% of the original target figure.

I contributed all of this support money to the private adaptation

team for the disaster called CIVIC FORCE.

(See my article Why CIVIC FORCE? here.)


Your kindness is more than I have ever encountered in my time

in the film industry.


I would especially like to say thank you to all the fans,

who love Japanese films and games, for their cries of support for Japan.

From the bottom of my heart, I am so delighted.


At first, JustGiving did not charge their usual 15% commission fee.

Originally the organisation was prepared to send 100% of the money

received from everyone to the locations it was supporting.

This was the rational reason why I chose this organisation.

However, as the situation gradually calmed down,

the system has returned to the basis where they take

their commission.


I am now considering gradually moving the substance of

the support from, first of all, give relief to moral support for the revival.
Meanwhile, I think I will continue to collect donations on this site
for the time being.


This is my current feeling six months after the disaster.


As a first step, I heard that the mobile Cinema called MoMO

was put into use, and showed some films on an outdoor screen

in Tohoku. I think this is sort of thing that is needed, however,

I have wondered how easy it is too keep it funded as

it cannot be done by halves. It is all or nothing.

Can this event be really good for the people in disaster area?

Fortunately, this project has so far helped to keep hope alive.

I will keep an eye on it.


My friend, film director, Stu Levy went to the disaster area

just after the earthquake. He is making a documentary film,

called Pray For Japan, to send out a message to the world.

I am very happy to support him.

I believe it is time for film to help support the survivors.


This is important.


I am afraid, to be honest, that Japan was not as united

as was hoped for at the time.


What is the reason?

What is its origin?

What can I do to help?


I have been thinking about this for the six months.


The answer, which grew in my mind, was that the victims

who lost their precious lives need some sort a requiem.

So I promise to try and help make a future,

which is full of hope.


2:46 p.m.

I was reading a film script for a new project.


I am reading a happy scene at this time. A baby boy is born,

which is the sort of thing to make everyone smile.

I know it is too good to be true, however,

whether it may be a coincidence, or maybe an inevitability,

I would like to feel more of this hope in my life.


I am very grateful to everyone who cooperated in
collecting donations with us,


Total contribution :

100% of One million one-thousand and five hundred yen

has been sent to Civic Force.

Target growth rate : 201%


These are the people who joined force with

the JustGiving pictures.dept. challenge site:


Producer of The Man from Nowhere: Mr. Tae-Hun Lee

 Busan International Film Festival Director (Korea) : Mr. Kim Ji-Seok

JapanglishJapanglish (UK) : Mr. Andrew  Kirkham & Mrs Kazumi Kirkham

Film Director : Mr. Masaaki Taniguchi
(Time Traveller; the girl who leapt through time)

New York Asian Film Festival Director (USA) : Mr. Marc Walkow

Subtitles Translator : Mr. Don Brown

Hakuhoudo Casting Department : Ms. Michiyo Sato

Film Director : Mr. Sono Sion (Himizu, Guilty of Romance)

Actor : Mr. Tak Sakaguchi

AMUSE INC. Producer : Mr. Motoaki Aoki

Nikkatsu SUSHI TYPHOON Producer : Mr. Yoshinori Chiba

Film Director : Satoshi Miki (Adrift in Tokyo)

J-Film Pow Wow (Canada) Fine, Totally Fine Charity Screening

Nippon Connection (Germany) Fine, Totally Fine Charity Screening

Film Site Creator: Mr. Kouichi Nagano

North West Film Forum (USASeattle)
Fine Totally Fine Charity Screening

Rob Bucher (USAPhiladelphia)
8000Miles(Saitama no Rappers”” Charity Screening

Udine Far East Film Festival - Charity Bag Sale Proceeds,
Ms. Sabrina Baracetti
, Mr. Mark Shillings and everyone at the festival

Japanese Canadian Culture Centre (Canada)
“TIME TRAVELLER, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Charity Screening.

Twenty seven people who participated in NOMIKAI 311

Poyopoyu-san / Avanti-san / amichan-san / Yoshiyuki-san /
Kayueyukos-san / Konmame-san / Bua-san / Senoo-san /
Tomomi-san / rakko-chan-san / kyokyo-san / hanglu0226-san /
natsu-san / Takobo-san / otamastar-san.

This has been press-released on September 11th and covered
by one of the most popular Japanese economic newspaper, Nikkei
on August 15th as well as BUNKA-TSUSHIN, the movie trade magazine
on September 13th.  Thank you again for your great support, everyone!!

Yuko Shiomaki, pictures dept. co. ltd. 
September 11, 2011 at 14:46PM


Cannes 2011 : Day 1

May 11, 2011, in CANNES - DAY 1


Now, the Cannes Film Festival has begun.

I have been going backwards and forwards on whether to write my blog,
but I cannot keep from writing it any longer.
It seems that the splendour is back in Cannes this year.
Due to jet lag I woke up early today and was treated to the fresh morning glow.

I am going to report on the Cannes Film Festival via this blog,
Twitter and Facebook with a different point of view from the film media crowd.

The main purpose of this is not to keep you informed with picture dept.
up to the minute news and reports. It will not have interviews with
key industry people.

As I am not an official member of the press, it will just my own,
subjective view of the market. If you will, think of it as a kind of "rear window",
which you can read light-heatedly over a cup of coffee.
I hope you take it easy.

For official press information, Ms Harumi Nakayama of Cinema Today
will be making up to the minute reports over the internet as she is in Cannes
as usual, as will the all the rest of the film world's journalists and writers.
Please check them out.

Well, having woken up early today I had some carrot & corriander soup
for my health, as I have to eat a high-calorie diet for two weeks.
I am so happy to be staying in an apartment with a kitchen.

I heard Lady Gaga performing on the opening stage today.
For me, Karaoke night with all the people who love fantastic films
will be a big event.

By the way, I might suddenly pop-up on U-Stream sometimes.

Mr Joe Odagari will be in Cannes from the 13th to 15th.
Mr Sion Sono will be in town from the 18th to 20th.
Also in Cannes after the 20th will be Ms Megumi Tazaki, the newcomer with great expectations
at the short film competition.

I am not sure, but I think I will be able to do some U-Stream on these dates.
It all depends on the atmosphere at the time as to whether I do or don't.
Please do not have any great expectation, but do check out my Twitter feed.
It will be mid-night in Japan due to the time difference between there and Cannes.

All right, I hope you enjoy Cannes as if you are my company staff,
for the next 2 weeks.

yuko shiomaki, pictures dept. - Cannes

Press Release

April 19, 2011 18:00 JST - TOKYO




HAYAMA BEACH based pictures dept. is proud to announce that our sales title GUILTY OF ROMANCE, (from the same producer as COLD FISH), has been officially invited to the Director’s Fortnight in the upcoming Cannes Film Festival. The film has been acquired all rights by the German based worldwide sales agency Films Boutique. Excluded are the Japanese distribution rights, which remain with Nikkatsu, the main producer of the film.


pictures dept. owner Yuko Shiomaki has teamed up with Mizue Kunizane, a long-standing talent agent from Dongyu Club, to develop two new Sion Sono projects. These are: THE BLOOD OF WOLVES, Sono’s first samurai action drama starring Tak Sakaguchi, and a self-remake project of his internationally acclaimed work, which will also be unveiled during Cannes.


Comments from the director, Sion Sono

In this film, I depicted my love, respect, and fear towards women. As a result, I have no choice but to conftront the vulgar, contemptible feelings within my heart.  I would say my films are viewed in Japan as being extremely unorthodox and rather extremely eccentric. However, my early works were received positively by the Berlin Film Festival, so I feel that perhaps the best audiences for my films aren't in Japan but in Europe, where people have been far more accepting. In this perspective, I am looking forward to hear the reaction at Cannes.


About Sion Sono

Born in 1961, Sion Sono first became noticed as a poet when he started publishing experimental poetry in 1978, at the age of 17.  He dropped out of university to make 8mm films. His debut film, a 30 min short called I AM SION SONO! played at the PIA Film Festival in 1985. It consisted of him reading his poetry onscreen. In 1987 he competed in the festival with A MAN’S HANAMICHI and won the Grand Prize. In 1990 he debuted his first feature, BICYCLE SIGHS, which played in numerous festivals around the world. THE ROOM, his 1992 feature won a Special Jury Prize at the Tokyo Sundance Film Festival. In 1997, he staged a guerilla street poetry project, “Tokyo GAGAGA”, which attracted a lot of attention and resulted in a book being published about the project. He gained instant international notoriety for his film SUICIDE CLUB released in 2001. He followed up with a Suicide Club novel, Manga, and film telling the story of several side characters from the original, called NORIKO’S DINNER TABLE. In 2007, his film EXTE played the NYAFF and in many other countries.  LOVE EXPOSURE (released in 2009) won the Agnes B Award at the 9th Tokyo Filmex (2008), awarded by the audiences vote. It was also shown at the 59th Berlin Film Festival, where it won the Caligari Film prize and Overseas Critic League Prize.


Sion Sono as well as being the maverick of the Japanese film industry is highly active in free style youth orientated pleasures, such as horror, poetry and novels. Sono’s film COLD FISH (2010) became an internationally acclaimed masterpiece and it was officially selected for the Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival and Pusan Film Festivals. It was awarded the CASA Asia Best Motion Picture Award at Sitges International Fantastic F.F. 2010. He is currently working his next project, having completed GUILTY OF ROMANCE, which is considered to be the final episode in the “HATE” saga. (Love Exposure, Cold Fish and Guilty of Romance).

Guilty of Romance (恋の罪 Koi no Tsumi)

35mm/Japanese/149 min/colour/2011 Written and directed by Sion Sono

Miki Mizuno/Makoto Togashi/Megumi Kagurazaka Production Company: Nikkatsu

© 2011 Guilty of Romance Film Partners

pictures dept. title page: http://picturesdept.com/sales/gor

FilmsBoutique : http://www.filmsboutique.com/


It is a Vintage Year for Films

 Wednesday, April 6, 2011


April has arrived and the Cannes Film Festival is looming.

Although applications have already closed I have heard

rumours that it is favouring everything except Japanese films.

However, I always try to ignore these rumours otherwise

I end wasting time on a wild-goose chase.


The Cannes Film Festival is the largest of its kind in the world, of course.

What kind of films are in it's line-up this year.

As per usual I wonder about this.

As of this weekend the "lid is completely closed".


There are a lot of producers from around the world

who are in different states of play. Some have already been

rejected; some anxiously waiting an unofficial offer;

and some have already had an unofficial offer so are busy

re-arranging their schedule and preparations.

It all comes to a head this weekend.


There is not much room for conjecture, but the North American

market tends to aim its hope toward the Sundance Film Festival

in January, whilst all other territories usually aim at the

Cannes Film Festival in May. For independent film makers it is good

to view the works being considered for prizes to create an index

of what is trending in the world.


So, I am going to cast my eyes on this years notable projects.


This year has the feel of a good vintage.


News films are expected from Pedro Almodovar, David Cronenberg,

Won Kar-wai, the Dardenne Brothers, Lars von Trier, Aki Kaurismäki,

Bela Tarr etc.

A certain industry magazine is very excited by the prospect

that these films occupy the half of its competition program at Cannes.


Won Kar-wai's new film is the story of Ip Man, who is said to be

the master of the martial art used by Bruce Lee. Though this story

has been filmed before with Donnie Yen in the title role,

Tony Leung is starring in War Kar-wai's take on the tale.

He had to train very hard for the role. I heard that Zhang Ziyi is

also performing in the film. I think she is not the young innocent

she was in the film THE ROAD HOME.

I suppose that although the film is complete a release date in

Hong Kong has not been set, based on the assumption that

it will be chosen for Cannes, of course! The film is called THE GRANDMASTERS.

We can imagine the film contents from this title, can't we.


The Spanish grand-master Pedro Almodovar is readying his

new film THE SKIN I LIVE IN, starring his old friend Antonio Banderas.

It is the story of a plastic surgeon who's wife is killed in a car accident,

and who is developing a new sort of skin. It has already sold in

most countries at the planning stage. Very impressive!


David Cronenberg's A DANGEROUS METHOD, stars

Vigo Mortensen and co-stars Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley

and Vincent Cassel.  I have to say this must be an unembellished film,

by the producer of director Takashi Miike's 13 ASSASSINS,

and who did Kitano's BROTHER and GOHATTO, plus DEPARTURES.

He previously produced Cronenberg's CRASH.

Yap,he is an old friend of Cronenberg.


Aki Kaurismäki is trying to come to the Cannes Film Festival,

for the first time in 5 years, with his new film LE HAVRE.

It is the tale of a cobbler, who lives in a small Finnish town,

and takes on the responsibility for a refugee African child.

It sounds like a very human comedy.


Oscar winner Lasse Hallstöm is prepping his new film



Fondly remember director Jean-Jacques Arnoud is making

the historical drama film BLACK GOLD in Tunisia and Qatar

at the moment.  It has an amazing sky high budget for

an independent film (from Japanese producer’s perspective),

of fifty billion yen.


Lars von Triers ANTICHRIST caused controversy at the Cannes

before last and is now being released in Japan.  His new film

MELANCHOLIA stars Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsburg.

I hear the film which starts with "end of the world" is

a psychological disaster movie. It has already been sold into

25 countries. Given that it opens on the 26th May in Denmark

means it will be ready for Cannes.


Furthermore, director Hirokazu Kore-Eda's I WISH is on the 2011

lineup from Japan. Also expected are films from Roland Emmerich,

Lynne Ramsey, Steve McQueen and, ladies and gentlemen, Madonna!!


I WISH had been derided at the end of last year as being

just an extended PR film for the new bullet train,

which was fully opened to passenger traffic in the Kyûshû

region on the 12th March.


However, director Kore-Eda is a regular at Cannes.

He enjoys great popularity in France, and is hopeful of being

at Cannes due to the support he receives from the major

sales agent in France, The Wild Bunch. They purchased the film

at the beginning of this year.

Hum,,,, that's why the release was postponed until June...

well, I am not sure.


By the way, Joe Odagari who portrays a school boy's father,

has become a father in real life. He has now opened up

new territory for his film roles.


Then, there are all the new films crammed together in addition

to these regulars. It is a vintage year.


I hear that Brillante Mendoza, from the Philippines, film PREY,

is already being praised as a masterpiece so is to being

considered for Cannes. Also works by Nanni Moretti, Gus van Sant,
Lou Ye, Alexander Payne, André Techine and Pen-ek Ratanaraung.

Todd Hayne's spectacular 5 hour long film MILDRED PIERCE

is also Cannes bound. (But, this is a film made for HBO television.

It must be well made as it stars Kate Winslet).


Then there are lots of rumours, that we have no good reason

to believe, so please do not pay any attention to them.


The official public announcements will be on the 14th April.


By the way, Terrence Malick's

THE TREE OF LIFE, starring Brad Pitt has been announced as
one of the official selection film, already.


I hear that it is the story of the life of three sons and

their conflicts with their father, performed by Pitt, in the 1950's.

Sean Penn plays the adult character of Jack, one of the sons.

How can he overcome his birth trauma and truly understand

his family & parents?

"I can forgive you now, my father"... in this way?

So far as I can see it seems to relate to the philosophy

of universal truth. It shows us the power of Gaia.

This film has as its themes - the meaning of being born;

human relationships and reconsidering being part of nature.

I am really interested in this film. I want to watch it.


This is a very convincing opening film at the world’s most

anticipated film festival, Cannes.


The poster, the trailer and using the music Vltava (The Moldau)"

seem very good.


It's Time For A Movie !!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Over two weeks have passed since the shocking earthquake.


For the last week I have been away at the Hong Kong
International Film Festival, but my heart was so restless that

I could not bring myself to write about the films.


We have been bitterly exposed to the menace of nature,
what with the earthquake, Tsunami, storm winds and snow.
Moreover, the radioactivity leaking from the nuclear power plant
is the threatening all of existence by it's influence on the water. 
The whole world seems to have been unsettled during the
last two weeks as homo sapiens are tested to the full
by this series of events.


As the true scale of the disaster unfolds our minds cannot
cope and we seem to be losing our nerve, even if
we are not direct victims of the earthquake
and it's related events.


What is it that film can achieve now?


I think everyone in the film industry is racking their brains
for the answer to that.


I think that films have hundreds of things to do when it
comes to rehabilitation after this earthquake disaster.


"Films have the power to change human's lives".


I hold great faith in this statement when I purchase a film,

do overseas promotion or think about a films advertising


Films can make you laugh, cry or get excited, so I believe
that entertainment has the power to heal the injured
minds of people affected by this disaster.


Due to the opening scene in "Hereafter", which features
a disaster similar to the one in Japan, Clint Eastwood's
new film has been pulled from circulation.


I heard that there are arguments both for and against this 
decision. However, over time the film "which is able to move
people's minds" will also have "a power to grow
in people's memory".


Someday, somewhere we will have the chance to watch it,
even if now it has disappeared from screens.

We don't have to be in a rush to do so.

I am taking it easy, like this.  It is not a time to argue.


Fortunately, film is a "complex art".


We can reproduce and extend impressions as much as we like. 
It is very different from a live performance. Live performance
needs a certain spirit each time and place, and that spirit is
everything in a live performance.


We can make lots of films and digital copies, so we can
diffuse an impression, with the approval of the rights holders,
to lots of people at once.  This is the media known as film.


I think we must make the best use of this complex arts merits
to the maximum, and broaden the shared experience of
watching amongst the people, who are still feeling unsettled.
People need entertainment.


Film as an entertainment can be shown to hundreds and
sometimes thousands of people at the same time on one screen,
so people can really enjoy a shared experience.


When a film achieves it role of granting shared experience of
a common emotion then the audience will want to see it,
whatever the distributor thinks.  Regardless whether showing
or not showing it is the right decision it will end being sold in
the underground passages of stations at bargain rates.

I am sure that many people want to watch the films no matter how. 
PIrated copies are in circulation despite the rights holders
refusal to release the films.


Looking at it from a different angle it adds credence
to the fact that these films are worth watching.


In the film industry, it is said that if a film leaves the
producer’s control once it is released, it is a “HIT”.


I think "Hereafter" is a meaningful film that leaves
a lasting impression.


Conversely, a film that is shown in the cinema now
because the producer thought it was now the appropriate time
to do so, may well be cold-shouldered by the audience.

This sometimes happens….


Under the situation like this, we cannot show it just because
we want to, and in the same way we cannot watch something
just because we want to.  Films in the present situation are
being shown due to compulsion.


"Is it possible to share with audiences through film?"


Originally, that was the fundamental theme.

Now film producers have a chance to reconfirm this simple idea.
I am going to grasp it.


The short term view is that there is a big loss due to cancellation
of releases, with the knock-on effect that the box-office drops off
overall.  Also that opportunities are lost and that some films
have to renunciate their release due to risky advertising.


What about the long view?


We can share the same emotions with total strangers in a cinema.  
We can share the same thrills. I think now is the time shine
the spotlight on the power of films.


We are confronted by realities of life on a scale we have
never seen before in films - 9/11 terrorist attacks and Tsunamis.


I think that fantasy films are best placed to alleviate the depressive
mood of the world, and have the power to make us dream
and have hope. So, fantasy films are going to catch the
audiences hearts for the time being, I guess.


I heard that Disney's "Tangled" drew audiences totalling
130% compared to last year. I can understand this.
What sort of film can ease peoples troubles at this time
other than Disney or Studio Ghibli?


They are both film-makers who for such a long time
have bought us messages of love, hope and the power to dream.


So, I wish Disney and Ghibli would supply a mobile cinema
with a projector for the children of the disaster-striken area.


They are in need of the hopes and dreams that the film industry
can provide. I think, if all the children could come together to
watch Disney and Ghibli films in an open space, when it warms up,
a sad place of psychic trauma, could be changed into a happy
memorial place for them.  It would be really lovely if it could be
topped off with a fireworks display.  The children would gain
hope from the depths of their sorrow and become
excited for the future.


This is my view and my way of thinking to face this tragedy
from film industry point of view.


Now is the time for the film industry to come together and
use our collective might to prop up the support effort,
and to campaign at full force - with the "rehabilitation
of inspirational films" and rediscovery of the shared
experience of cinema".


"The film industry is having a hard time with decreasing attendances,
it is in an extremely precarious position".


We used to say this in the past, but it should now be about the present. 
Now is the chance to all reset.


Walt Disney quote:


You can design, create and build the most wonderful place in the world,
but it takes people to make a dream into reality.


Hayao Miyazaki quote:


Question: What kind of jobs should the children who have grown
up with your films choose?


Answer: I want them to just be normal people.


The world depicted in films has become reality in rapid succession
- radioactivity from nuclear power plants;
disastrous tectonic plate movement; Mega-Tusnami;
deforestation; global warming; abnormal weather;
oil field depletion..
I guess the only thing remaining is Armageddon.


Can we make a "normal" life for future generations?

Do they still learn how to imagine a lot from films?


Film can do something,

 it can be the shared experience of emotions".





By the way, UNIQLO's president is so cool.  In good faith
he donated one billion yen.   Masayoshi Son from SOFTBAK is too cool. 
He donated 10 billion yen.  Their money is out from their personal pokets,
but they were both very quiet about it, no song and dance. 
It is very manly behaviour. 

However, I am a petite president of a petite company.

My donation is also a petite sum of money,
and I do not own a film which could be released and
free people's minds from the current stresses and strains. 
I feel ashamed that I cannot do anything on a global scale
except have some idea like this.


With this in mind, I have a desire to make a film which
will "touch peoples hearts". Well, I have to hurry up.


(Just an Japanese onomatopoeic word stemming from
a government information film - see the above CM clip, very popular!!)


First of all, I have heard that the reconstruction fund is still not enough.

Your continued support to JustGiving is appreciated.



We appreciate your prompt response. 

Thank you very much for your kind help.




Why Donate? Why Civic Force


yuko shiomaki

Author:yuko shiomaki
pictures dept. co. ltd.
films sales and distribution
company specialized in
international film sales,
PR and marketing to
introduce & deliver quality
films to the global market.