Founded in 1936, the Directors Guild of Japan recently bestowed its 60th New Directors Award on Teruya Toshiyuki for his family comedy “Born, Bone, Born.” Set in on an island near his native Okinawa, the film features an ancient local funeral custom: Washing the bones of the dead.
Better known to millions by his stage name Gori, Teruya belongs to the popular comedy duo Garage Sale, as well as being an in-demand actor. But he has also been directing short films for more than a decade.
At a DGJ symposium on Monday, on the margins of the Tokyo International Film Festival, Teruya joked with moderator Nakamura Yoshihiro, who had been on the award selection panel, about being the only one not to vote for his film. Nakamura countered that he hadn’t seen it at the time but, now that he had, “I’m happy with the result.” “Samurai Hustle” director Motoki Katsuhide said: “I couldn’t believe a newcomer had directed it.”
Conversation inevitably turned to the impact of the coronavirus.
Irie Yu (“Memoirs of a Murderer”) said that he’d lost a big movie and ended up making an indie film instead, partly financed through crowd-funding. “It’s too much trouble to apply to the Agency for Cultural Affairs,” he said, referring to a government film subsidy program. “I have no idea how to do it.”
He worked with a small crew and kept everyone safe with masks, PCR tests and other precautions. “It would be hard to make a commercial film now,” he said. “You’re dealing with hundreds of people.”
The pandemic has also had a continuing impact on the box office, noted Omori Tatsushi, who has released two films this year; “Mother” in July, and “Under the Stars” in October. “It’s been tough, but it would be sad if everything went straight to streaming. I really want to see my films to be shown in a theater.”
Motoki, who confessed to not working since early this year, said that when he sees new films now “I think ‘that was shot before corona.’ And I’ll probably be thinking that way for some time to come.”