Japanese Movies at the 2015 Edinburgh International Film Festival

2015_banner_datesI just wrote this up for UK Anime Network but seeing as no one clicks on these links and actual paying work was thin today ( 😦 ) I’m going to put them here too in a bit more detail.

Most of these films are making their UK Premieres and there are some pretty high profile films from Japan that probably aren’t going to fetch up anywhere else plus a few from China, one confirmed big name guest and….nothing at all from Korea (sorry Korean cinema fans – better luck next time). I’ll just outline the Japanese ones for now though. OK, here we go:

100 Yen Love (Hyaku-en no Koi /  百円の恋)

Sakura Ando plays a slacker who ends up fighting her way out of her lacklustre life with a new found taste for boxing! The female Rocky? Maybe, who knows. What a reductive comment – sorry about that. Also starring Hirofumi Arai this one of the festival’s most promising titles.

La La La At Rock Bottom (Misono Universe, 味園ユニバース)

This one looks like a riot – latest movie from Nobuhiro Yamashita (Linda, Linda, Linda, My Back Page, Drudgery Train – pretty much all the most amazing movies ever). Guy comes out of prison, gets conked on the head and ends up becoming a rock star – could happen to anyone right? Stars real life rocker Shibutani Subaru and one of today’s best young actresses, Fumi Nikaido. Can’t wait to see this!

Kyoto Elegy (Manga Niku to Boku マンガ肉と僕)

Don’t know so much about this one but it’s the directorial debut of Korean-Japanese producer and actress Kiki Sugino (Au revoire l’été) and it’s based on a novel by Shiki Asaka. Apparently it’s a new take on “women’s cinema” centring on a lawyer and his interactions with three different women. There’s a favourable Telegraph review by Robbie Collin from the Tokyo Film Festival here.

Makeup Room

This is getting a release from Third Window Films so expect to see it turning up in various places and, of course, an eventual UK DVD release. I guess “Makeup Room” room is the new English language title but you might have seen it as “Make Room” which is just a rendering of the Japanese title. It’s a comedy set in the makeup room of a porno shoot (because, of course!).

Our Family (Bokutachi no Kazoku ぼくたちの家族)

Latest movie from Yuya Ishii, director of Japan’s oscar entry The Great Passage and some fun indie comedies – Sawako Decides, Mitsuko Delivers, A Man With Style. This one stars Satoshi Tsumabuki and looks like it’s heading back in a family drama direction as a family becomes scattered when the mother is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

and of course….PARASYTE PART 1!!

Playing as the “midnight movie”, well, 23.30. And it’s only part one (and I heard it’s not that good but, oh well). This adaptation of Hitoshi Iwaaki’s manga stars Shota Sometani as a mild mannered teenage boy who suddenly finds his right hand has been invaded by an alien parasite. Also stars Eri Fukatsu, Sadao Abe, Ai Hashimoto, Masahiro Higashide, Nao Omori, Hirofumi Arai, Kimiko Yo and Tadanobu Asano!

(Parasyte Part 1 is screening courtesy of Animatsu Entertainment who have also licensed the anime adaptation and will presumably be releasing this on home formats at some point in the future. However, they ONLY make mention of Part 1 and this is really one movie split into two parts so we’ll see how that goes.)

Anyway, all the links are live now on the Edinburgh Film House Website and if you happen to be a member you can book right now! Otherwise you have to wait until Friday. Sucks to be you (and me, because these are all very far away and inconveniently scheduled. *Le Sigh*).

Hi-So + Q&A, Curzon Renoir 1st March 2013

Hi-So 1

As the film begins, a bewildered young woman is being shown to her room by a strangely attentive hotel staff in what seems to be luxury Thai resort. She is there to visit her Thai boyfriend, recently returned from study abroad in America and now it seems the star of an upcoming motion picture. Ananda, born and bred in Thailand but brought up in an affluent, bilingual family converses with his girlfriend in English but with everyone else in Thai. He is obviously busy with film work and his girlfriend is largely left to her own devices in the otherwise entirely empty hotel. As time moves on the geographical shift seems to have exposed the cracks in the couple’s relationship – the crew complain about Americanisms creeping into Ananda’s on screen performance and his girlfriend soon gets bored of all the attention that goes with dating a film star. It soon becomes obvious that she’s in the way, a distraction and unwelcome intrusion of the outside into Ananda’s life in Thailand.

Soon after she returns home the film seems to jump on a few months and Ananda is now living in an apartment in Bangkok with a woman from the PR company. Although the couple seem happy, or at least happier, Ananda still seems restless – perhaps more so now that his film work is finished leaving him with little else to do. Evidently Ananda’s family were fairly wealthy – the apartment the two share is one of many in a previously luxury but ‘under renovation’ apartment block owned by Ananda’s often absent mother.

In telling episodes of symmetry, Ananda never really seems to fit in anywhere. Constantly at odds with himself he seems to be a Thai in Thailand and an American in America. Whilst filming he rejects his American girlfriend leaving her forced to alleviate her isolation by inviting herself to a hotel employee’s birthday party where she can’t communicate because she doesn’t speak Thai and the hotel employees only have basic English skills. Moving forward, where it seems Ananda might have become reconciled to his life in Thailand with May, a visit from his American university friends leaves May equally isolated and sidelined as Ananda parties American style with his college buddies. Whilst in ‘Thai’ mode, Ananda seems like a quiet, respectable and respectful young man but with his American friends he’s loud and energetic, youthful and extroverted.

It’s very clear there are two Anandas each in constant struggle with the other. A privileged upbringing rich in overseas influence and an extended period abroad have led to an intense feeling of disconnection with his native culture, yet once abroad Ananda is Thai and forever a foreigner. His inability to be more than one thing at once, to be a complete person at any one moment seems to be tearing his life apart. In unwatched moments he appears intensely melancholic, frustrated and more than a little lost. He drifts from one thing to another, not really doing anything or taking anything seriously enough to fully commit to it.

Hi-So, short for High Society – the slightly aimless world in which Ananda and many others like him are living, is a very interesting film about the crushing ennui of the modern, monied man. Though it touches briefly on the collective trauma of the tsunami and the country’s rapid economic growth, this is very much a film about one man’s cultural confusion and ultimately how it’s left him feeling even as an outsider to himself. Undoubtedly this is one of those films where some will say that nothing really happens and others will reply that’s because everything is happening but for those willing to look deep enough Hi-So is certainly worthy of attention.

Secret Cinema, 4th November 2012 – The Shawshank Redemption

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First off, apologies for the lack of decent photographs (not that my previous efforts were even approaching ‘decent’). The specificities of this event meant I couldn’t figure out a way of taking my camera – though no one seemed to mind people snapping away on mobiles so I managed to sneak two or three of those in during lapses of security (the phone I did have to secrete about my person though).

To begin at the beginning – I had a harder time guessing this title than previous Secret Cinema events I’d been to. The clues leading up to the event were more general and didn’t really connect with the way I see the film, or at least I was expecting something more heavyweight. References to truth and justice seemed to point to a crime and punishment theme but the more philosophical offerings  seemed to place this on a grander scale, as if it were to be about the nature of such ideas possibly related to one person’s spiritual journey. The references to ‘hope’ and ‘storms’ should probably have been more of a clue but both were more literal when I’d been thinking metaphorical and I failed to connect them completely to Shawshank. I did consider the film a few times but each new clue seemed to rule it out. However, when the dress codes and identities came through – all male identities from different ethnicities, home towns and occupations – a prison theme presented itself and along with the folksy American tone one of the messages and time frame Shawshank was looking probable.

Donning the required long-johns and man’s suit, and with my valuables discretely about my person, I made my way to Bethnal Green Library. After waiting some time after the start time it transpired there’d been some kind of technical hitch – the doors to ‘the court’ were locked and we couldn’t get in. I’m not sure what exactly happened, I presume the people who’d been allocated the following time slot began to arrive and the queue got too long but at any rate those of us at the front of the queue were denied our due process and marched straight onto the prison bus without any kind of hearing at all. From other people’s reports I gather that we were meant to be sentenced by the judge and given our papers with the identities the online system had set up for us with our various crimes and sentences laid out. Therefore when we got to the prison we had no such papers.

Whilst on the ’50s style minibus we were briefed about our new lives – in short, that we were damned and condemned to hell and it was all our own fault for having committed such terrible crimes against the State of Oak Hampton. As the bus approached the prison we were heckled by inmates already lurking in wait for fresh bait. We then were made to run through them and up steps to a higher floor where we assembled in three groups according to height/shape. Being distinctly on the smaller side I was a few places back in the leftmost queue. The leading guard then barked at as that we had 15 seconds to grab a bag and get back in line or there’d be trouble. After we’d verified that the numbers on the clothes matched the bag and the suit was complete we were ordered to remove our shoes and socks. After this we inevitably had to strip down to the undergarments we’d been instructed to wear as part of our outfit. Some poor people had neglected this instruction and therefore had less to guard their modesty. More running again, with the suit, bag of old clothes and our shoes we had to run down through the yard again (yes, it was cold, the ground was wet under our bare feet and I almost slipped a few times) heckled by inmates and eventually passing through the showers and a man unconscious and bleeding on their floor.

Having handed in my old clothes I was ushered into a cell, alone, except for the crazed psychopath who already occupied it. He made various lewd remarks and assured me that everyone would treat me nicely once they knew I was his guy. Yes, he wanted to make me his bitch – I ignored him and pretended not to know what he meant. All those hours watching OZ finally paid off obviously*. Once I’d gotten into my new attire there seemed to be some commotion outside. Due to the position of my cell I couldn’t see anything but I could hear a guard shouting, someone screaming and the sound of something being hit very hard. The occupant of the opposite cell informed his charges that that’s what happens if you don’t shut up when they tell you.

Next was the canteen where we were treated to a delightful meal of a tiny portion of cold baked beans. Two inmates then came rushing in shouting about a terrible incident which caused our guard to go off and investigate while the two enterprising gentlemen took the opportunity to sell us all sorts of contraband like beer and whiskey. When the guard finally came back we were on laundry detail and had to haul up the fresh bags of outfits for the next batch unfortunates. After that we began to explore.

In the library we could listen to records and write letters to political prisoners (for real, this seemed to be part of the PEN scheme to write to foreign embassies on behalf of those incarcerated on political grounds). There was a choral group singing in the chapel and later Brooks’ letter was read out. I was roped in to do some embroidery at one point which was apparently going to be sold for charity. After that I ended up making Potpourri in a shed outside. Re-entering the main building I found myself up for parole where despite vowing never to commit my heinous crimes again and avowing my acceptance of Jesus Christ in my heart (but slightly embarrassingly having sworn to reading my bible every night I had to answer ‘no’ to the question can you quote me something from the bible – perhaps I should have had a go? Would he have known if I made it up?) my parole was shockingly rejected! Oh well. I then ended up in the nurses office, which was secretly a bar, where I had to have my picture taken (why?) and then an examination room where I was evidently used as some kind of test subject without my knowledge or consent!  Honestly this prison malarky’s not all it’s cracked up to be!

A while later there seemed to be some commotion; I couldn’t get very close because some people were blocking the way but then someone ran past shouting ‘Tommy, they got Tommy’ and the whole place went into lockdown. ushered back up to the cells where I’d originally been we waited until an announcement was made that Tommy had been killed due his own poor behaviour. There was much rattling of the railings and for a minute it seemed like a riot might break out. However a man then stepped forward and began to sing a hymn which everyone then joined in. Things didn’t completely calm down however as sounds of a storm could be heard and a guard rushed up and pinned my erstwhile cellmate to the wall demanding to know where Andy was. The prisoners then began to exclaim ‘Andy got out?’ and we were ordered to proceed to the assembly point for counting with hands on our heads. Once sitting in the screening room we were told we were about to see footage of everything that had happened so far in order to jog our memories and aid the officers in their investigation of the escape! The film was, of course, Shawshank Redemption but our surprises weren’t over yet as we were each handed a free beer during the film’s rooftop scene!

After the film there was a bit of a queue to get our belongings back and the process seemed quite chaotic. After we’d re-dressed we had to get our parole documents before exiting, however, I now had no idea where I was! Fortunately there was a small map on the back of my parole book but it really was very small and difficult to read in the dark. I was in Hackney and the thing to do seemed to be to find the bus stop that would take me to Mile End tube – something which I failed spectacularly to do! Luckily I managed to spot a taxi and I was free at last!

Battle of Algiers is still my favourite Secret Cinema event for its sheer power and audacity and although I enjoyed Shawshank Redemption it didn’t quite live up to the other events I’ve attended. It might be partly that we skipped the opening procedures or that I part missed the beginning of the climactic events but I feel both as if I didn’t find as much to do but also that I missed too much! Perhaps I was just unlucky and in the wrong places at the wrong times but this one didn’t feel quite as exciting somehow. Still it was another stellar effort from SC and I can’t wait to start the guessing games all over again (no costume changes though please, and let me bring my bag!)

*oh how I loved OZ, best show HBO ever made. Except that last series though, it went downhill there, should have ended a series earlier.

Secret Screenings: The Imposter 14th August 2012 (Spoiler Free)

This was my first visit to Secret Screenings – a sister strand to Secret Cinema that aims to show as yet unseen films for one night only with the Secret Cinema touch only on a smaller scale. This is, in fact, only the second of such events, the first having been Searching For Sugarman complete with a performance by Rodriguez himself. My first contact with this event was a rather ominous email taking the form of a court summons and asking me to confirm my attendance at the above day time (i.e buy a ticket).

Dutifully doing so I began to wonder what the film might be. Secret Screenings kept up the crime & punishment theme, posting lots prison related links and videos like Johnny Cash at San Quentin etc so I started to think about prison films. However, things started to skew a little and there seemed to be more about truth vs fiction and identification so I started to think about recent films along those lines.

There was only one thing it could be – I was convinced Secret Screenings were going to show us Bart Layton’s The Imposter. The first thing I noticed when I arrived at Conway Court Hall was the Spanish telephone box, being a bit dim though I didn’t really connect it with the film until later. There wasn’t a queue as such when I arrived but I could immediately see the police presence and after a while one of the officers asked us to line up behind the desk. While we were lined up other officers walked up and down the line checking tickets etc and keeping order. There were also more Secret Screenings signs around here including the lyrics to a song.

While I was near the front of the queue a boy, dressed in suspiciously thick clothing for the hot day, came and sat inside the phone box and I immediately knew my guess had been correct as I recognised it from the promotional material for the film. On finally getting inside we had to hand over our questionnaires to the policeman who filed them according to whether we’d selected truth or fiction. The girl in front of me refused to choose and after some arguing he gave in and created a separate pile. The questionnaires didn’t appear to have any further use and nothing more was made of them on the evening.

The ‘court house’ wasn’t open yet so I wandered around and spotted several ‘Missing’ adverts on the walls – more evidence. When the court did eventually open, we had to pass through a metal detector (which wasn’t switched on or connected to anything but was watched over by a policeman who made sure we went one by one). Once inside we were directed to one side for truth and another for fiction. I sat down on the truth side but this didn’t really make any difference in the end and if you came later you obviously just had to sit wherever there was space.

The film was then introduced by someone dressed as a British style barrister complete with wig who warned us we were to sit in judgement on a very complicated case but not to make up our minds until we’d heard the cross-examination of witnesses after the film had finished.

As you might expect if you’ve read anything at all about the film it is an extraordinarily complicated and distressing case. I came to sympathise with everyone and no-one by turns but even though I was aware of being manipulated I did come to sympathise more with the protagonist than anyone else. After all I’m assuming someone checked the injuries he claimed to have sustained as part his ‘story’ and that therefore he must have received these injuries at some point himself. One of the family members does describe him as walking with a limp from the beginning but I suppose he could have been putting it on all along.

After the film finished we were treated to a Q&A with the director and ‘star’ of the film private investigator Charlie Parker which took the form of a cross-examination by the barrister from the introduction. A lot of questions were asked about the level of scripting in the film and use of actors (none, bar brief reconstruction scenes) and whether anyone had been payed to appear in the film (expenses only). Apparently Frederic Bourdin now disowns the film because he thinks it makes him look bad and harangues the director about it on twitter. Charlie Parker talked how he came to be involved in the case – a current affairs program brought him on board to do some investigative work on a piece they were running about the Barclay family. By chance Parker was standing right next to a picture of the boy who disappeared whilst looking at Bourdin and could see what no-one else could see – it wasn’t him (not least because the shape of his ears was all wrong). Parker then became determined to expose Bourdin as an imposter believing him to be some kind of spy (!). Later Parker formulated his own opinion about what must have happened to the real Nicholas Barclay and is continuing to investigate the case although it has been closed by the police department and FBI.

I would urge everyone to see this fascinating documentary for themselves and make up their own mind. It is obviously very upsetting in terms of its subject matter, the boy who went missing at thirteen is of course still still unaccounted for. It’s a very interesting look at deception and why someone was able to get away with something so absurd in this particular case. There are no easy answers and the film certainly raises lots of questions about human nature and the way that it is often exploited.

Crossroads of Youth – Barbican centre 2nd August 2012

London was treated to something very special today as Korea’s oldest surviving silent film was screened at the barbican exactly the way its original 1934 audience would have seen it.

Young-bok has been adopted into Bong-Sun’s family as her intended husband. For seven long years he’s done everything that’s been asked of him, no matter how tedious or demanding, without complaint. Now 21, Bong-sun’s father is beginning to think the time for Young-bok’s marriage is near seeing as Bong-sun is now sixteen. However, tragedy strikes as Bong-sun is seduced by another man from the village. Heartbroken, Young-bok takes off for the city to make something of himself there, leaving his mother and sister behind in his home village.

Although Yong-bok is a good and kind young man, his heartbreak leads him to waste his life in drink. When working at the station one day he catches sight of the man who crushed all his young hopes in the village – little does he know of the havoc he is still to wreak on Young-bok’s city life.

Unbeknownst to Young-bok, his younger sister has come to the city to look for him following the death of their mother. Unable to find him she takes a job as hostess in a bar where she falls prey to the same man that ruined Bong-sun and an even worse friend of his. Young-bok also begins a tentative romance with a girl, Ge-soon, who pumps petrol but she has her own problems as her father’s ill health and rising debts have decreed she is to become the third wife of a money lender to satisfy them. Can these three young people find each other and happiness despite the poverty and hardship to which they’ve been subjected?

In contrast to the way silent films were usually seen in the west, in Korea rather than the intertitles we use to give crucial information of the story a live narrator (byeonsa) would interpret the action and/or act some of it out. As I understand it director Ahn’s original script is lost (though fortunately a brief synopsis had survived) and a new version had to be put together by closely watching the film and filling in the gaps.  Kim Tae-yong director of Late Autumn and Family Ties effectively re-directed the piece for for the stage along with Cho Hee-bong who fills the role of the narrator. The new script is obviously not afraid to embrace the melodrama of the film’s storyline in a self aware way, even throwing in a few knowing jokes at its own expense.

The performance began with a song by two young actors portraying Ge-soon and Young-bok, both of whom had absolutely wonderful voices and interpretation. Even though there were no subtitles for this first part it didn’t matter as the heartfelt intention of the song came across perfectly. Once this finished the film started playing with English subtitles for what the narrator was saying. Occasionally the subtitles didn’t cover the length of the narrator’s speech or perhaps missed some of the nuances of his humour but there was never a problem knowing what was going on. There was then another song about half way through covering a particularly intense scene between Ge-soon and Young-bok with the narrator adding occasional dialogue in the middle and a final song song functioning as an epilogue. The film was accompanied throughout by a band of four musicians playing an energetic and lively score which worked extremely well with the film and atmosphere.

All in all it was a fascinating and extremely enjoyable experience which deserves to be seen as widely as possible.

Secret Cinema – 3rd June 2012. Prometheus

This Secret Cinema seemed a bit different, in that it seemed fairly obvious all along what the film was going to be. Secret Cinema evidently had quite a big budget with this one – full page ads in The Guardian, multiple websites and promo videos so there was less in the way of clues and intrigue but perhaps more in terms of content. After I had signed up to their website and bought ‘shares’ in Brave New Ventures – apparently some sort of R&D company – I was instructed to choose my career path from the website. I chose to be a ‘Data Scientist’ as it seemed to fit me best (I guess in the end it was more along the lines of a social archaeologist  or anthropologist). Uniforms could be obtained from BNV Stores and I would need a blue jump suit. Dutifully I went down to the store but being on the shorter side my new employers were unable to accommodate me; I bought a badge and found alternative arrangements for the coveralls.

As the day approached there wasn’t as much input from SC as there had been previously but nevertheless it was very exciting. I arrived at the meeting point at Euston Station a bit before my appointed time of 12pm and waited for other people in jumpsuits to arrive. While I was waiting I met Professor Edwards, who didn’t seem know anything about our mission either. Eventually there were quite a few of us there and we were marched up the road to the right and into where the BNV stores had previously been. After an ID check (read: ticket check) and currency exchange (I guess I effectively bought a tiny bit of orange perspex for £10 but it is quite cool), we had to queue up for decontamination (being sprayed with something in the car wash) before lining up at out appointed embarkation gate by order of profession.

Once the gate finally opened I, and the other data scientists, were led off to our section HQ by our leader (Holloway!) where we were briefed about out mission – finding out the origins of man etc. Looking round the room afterwards I was very excited to find a picture marked ‘The Ripley Scroll’.  After that there was some free roaming, I tried going up one set of steps but an alarm went off so I stopped. Going down some other steps I ended up in the cargo bay and got a mission to take a box to the infirmary, which I did so I roamed round there and eventually into the mess hall, crew areas etc. After a while there was a countdown to external shutdown and I was shuffled back to my original gate. I was told to hold onto the flowers while we launched. After that it was into the hypersleep pods! We lay there for about a minute listening to Radiohead’s Everything In Its Right Place.

After waking we were told to go to the mess hall but on my way David gave me a flower to take for analysis which I did, it was analysed by Dr Boden but she didn’t find anything and gave me a curt note for Holloway. On my way to find him however I was given ANOTHER FLOWER so I had to do the whole thing over again but Doctor Boden said she’d take me to the infirmary to make sure I was OK after the hypersleep.

However when we got to the cargo bay there was a mission just about to go down to the surface so I joined that. I had to put on green overall over my jumpsuit and a helmet (and eat some bread, which was very nice). The planet surface was pitch black so I mostly kept close to the people in front of me and followed the guides, we saw some of those geyser type things, alien markings and some kind of miraculous projection.

I wasn’t really sure what to do after that but just then people started getting ‘sick’, I tried wandering around but more and more areas were closed off because of ‘contamination’ and eventually I found myself herded back into a lift and  back at the cargo bay. Some people were on the floor convulsing and others were tying to help them. I stood on the side as more and more people became ‘sick’ and the BNV staff were obviously upset. Many of them were shouting things like ‘someone tell me what’s going on’ and ‘what’s happening’, ‘we need a containment officer over here’. After awhile of total chaos someone just started shouting to come this way so we followed and were led to the ‘escape pod’ (or screening room) to watch the film – Prometheus!

As a huge fan of Alien(s) this was absolutely fantastic to me, really loved being in the world and and interacting with Weyland-Yutani.The whole experience was just amazing, could not fault it!

Our Day Will Come + Q&A at the ICA

Our Day Will Come is the sort of polarising film that will upset a lot of people. It’s essentially an absurd road movie in which two red headed men take revenge for all the confusion and disappointments in their lives by exploiting racial prejudice and trying to con their way out of Northern France. This is in itself quite funny as neither of the men actually have very red hair, the boy’s is a fake looking reddish brown (very dark), and the older man’s a greying pepperish colour. Nevertheless they seem to believe they’ve found a common bond and a persecuted minority to claim them as their own, even going so far as developing the desire to go to Ireland so they can be among their people. However, after things come to a crisis point for Patrick (Vincent Cassel), the older man and possibly the worst guidance counselor ever (if he ever really was one), events take a definite turn for the worse.

The humour here is really very dark, a lot of people probably won’t quite get it or its absurd tone. For those who do though this is likely to be a very enjoyable film with a lot of interesting things going on. It’s a film that perhaps doesn’t have a direct message, is it a film about persecution? about violence and alienation? about French society, or more specifically Northern French society? All these elements are in the movie but as for which of any of them the films means to express in point, it can’t be said. The absurdity is perhaps the point itself. Cassel and Barthelemy both turn in astonishing performances as the conflicted leads with good support from the unfortunate people they encounter during their pointless quest, notably the sullen little girl in the red jacket. Romain Gavras has made a very strong feature debut and is definitely a voice to look out for in the future. It’s certainly a film that many will find offensive or fail to engage with but also one that will find its own audience.

Vincent Cassel and Romain Gavras  kindly came to the stage after the film to answer some questions, of which there were undoubtedly a few. They first explained how the film got made, that Cassel had known the younger Gavras and the film’s producer for many years and after seeing Gavras’ last music video had come to the conclusion that Gavras was now ready to direct a feature and so decided to produce and possibly star in it. Gavras and the creative team then set about writing the script which went through many iterations, it did not originally feature red hair as a plot element but Gavras liked the idea of these two men who didn’t really have red hair banding together as red heads and convincing themselves they’d been unfairly persecuted for this reason. The completely pointless quest to find and liberate their people then became the driving force of the film. However Gavras was quick to say he himself doesn’t really know the point of the film or if it has one. Apparently they did test dye Barthelemy’s hair bright red but it looked too odd and Cassel added that after that he would have himself refused a full red dye. Someone asked if Cassel actively sought out these more extreme parts or was it just that it’s what he’s offered to which he answered he’d tried playing nice guys but it wasn’t very interesting and anyway he doesn’t find the nice guy archetype very true true to life. The same person then asked how he’d been influenced by his father Jean-Pierre Cassel which he found he couldn’t possibly answer other than in ways he couldn’t tell, but pointed out also that he’d ended up making very different films from his father. The same question was put to Romain which he answered in a similar way but added he hadn’t really had any choice about becoming a director and that all his siblings had entered the same field. The Q&A session then ended with a slightly odd (and a bit redundant) question about the Irish tourism board which was answered with a fairly flat ‘yes they approved’ style answer but all in all a very interesting conversation about this film that defies explanation.