Uzumasa Limelight Premiere+Reception-Wed.,Nov.26th,2014@ Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre on November 26
Photography by Dino Funez and Mio Matsushita
Reel Asian Co-Presents Uzumasa Limelight premiere which was held in Toronto on Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 at The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre(JCCC). The venue at JCCC had approximately 400 people in attendance to view the screening.
Director Ken Ochiai and actress Chihiro Yamamoto were in attendance for Q&A and there was a post-screening sake/sushi reception served to the atendees. Uzumasa Limelight won the Cheval Noir prize and the award for the best leading actor at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal as well as the audience award at the New York Asian Film Festival.
The movie is a nostalgic film of the men behind the golden age of chanbara (sword-fighting dramas and films), Uzumasa Limelight—whose title refers to a Charlie Chaplin film about the twilight days of a stage actor—goes behind the scenes of Japan’s most distinctive film genre. Kamiyama a professional extra , who has devoted 50 years of his life as a kirareyaku in sword-fighting movies produced at Kyoto’s Uzumasa Studios. His specialty? He lives to die. Or more exactly “to be cut” and die a beautiful, spectacular death on the silver screen. Kamiyama, played by real-life kirareyaku Seizo Fukumoto, whose imposing physical presence dominates the film from start to finish, has become a master of the art, with his own signature style of falling down dead. Now an elderly man, he lives in very modest circumstances, but has earned immense respect from his peers, some of them movie stars. When the studio decides to discontinue its chanbara productions, Kamiyama finds himself at a loss: what will he do for the rest of his life? How can he use his specialized skills? Hope arrives in the form a young girl named Satsuki (Chihiro Yamamoto), who soon becomes Kamiyama’s disciple. Will the art of dying by the sword live on? ” Jidaigeki” The term which describes samurai period dramas both played on television and acted out on stage is one of the main reasons why the film takes on Charlie Chaplin’s film Limelight as a central theme.
The character saves a young actress from suicide and helps her win back her self-esteem, Fukumoto’s character is trying to save this lost art form by passing it onto the younger generation, portrayed by Chihiro Yamamoto in the film. The film’s cast and crew hope to revive Jidaigeki and point the recent success of films like Ruroni Kenshin as signs that it could make a comeback.
During the Q&A session, Mr. Ochiai stated that Mr. Fukumoto has his wife and grandchildren unlike the lonely character shown on the the big screen, he has a family at home as many worried about him being unable to attend due to his failing health.
Chihiro Yamamoto is also a world class martial artist and this is her debut film. She has said in interviews that she would like to revive and spread the Jidaigeki tradition to the younger generations. We believe this movie will get the word about Jidaigeki and what an art form it is on the big screen.