Space Battleship Yamato 2199: Odyssey of the Celestial Ark – Filmkritik

Was war das für eine spannende Reise der Yamato und deren Besatzung. Einmal quer durchs Universum bis zur Magellanschen Wolke. Doch der Weg war nicht leicht. Tausende Raumkreuzer der imperialistischen Gamilas stellten sich ihnen in den Weg. Mit viel Strategie und jeder Menge Feuerkraft gelangten sie nach Iscandar und nahmen von Starsha das Cosmo-Umkehr-System entgegen, um die Erde wieder mit einem funktionierenden Ökosystem auszustatten. Nach dem recht wirren Zusammenschnitt jener Reise in STAR BLAZERS 2199: SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO – A VOYAGE TO REMEMBER, der ersten Filmauskopplung dieses Anime-Abenteuers, gibt es nun endlich eine ganz eigene und neue Geschichte im Spielfilmformat. International unter dem Titel SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO 2199: ODYSSEY OF THE CELESTIAL ARK bekannt, setzt die Handlung nicht etwa nach dem Staffelfinale ein, sondern auf der Rückreise der Yamato zur Erde.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199: Odyssey of the Celestial Ark
© KSM Anime

Handlung

Ein guter Grund genau hier mit der Geschichte zu beginnen, ist der Verzicht auf die Wellenkanone als Versprechen gegenüber Starsha, die Wellenenergie nicht mehr auf diese Art einzusetzen. Erst jetzt kann ein mächtiger Gegner ins Spiel gebracht werden: Die Gatlanter. Man kann das kämpferische Volk als eine Mischung aus Klingonen, Piraten und Wikinger ansehen. Stets auf einen ruhmreichen Kampf fixiert und sich nie zu schade den Märtyrertod zu sterben. Sie verfügen über eine extrem starke Waffe: Die Flammenkanone.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199: Odyssey of the Celestial Ark
© KSM Anime

Durch sie ist es möglich, eine Feuerwaffe – bei Animes brennt es auch gern mal im Weltraum – abzuschießen und durch eine Art Warp-Feld auf den Gegner zurasen zu lassen. Eine extrem gefährliche Langstreckenwaffe, der schon einige Gamilas zum Opfer gefallen sind. Die Yamato begegnet den Gatlanten, angeführt von General Goran Dagamund kann nur durch ein Versteckspiel im Warp-Raum entkommen. Die Verfolgung ist schnell vergessen, denn sie treffen auf einen fremden Planeten und sogar auf die Yamato als Kriegschiff aus dem Zweiten Weltkrieg.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199: Odyssey of the Celestial Ark
© KSM Anime

Neues mit dem Alten

Es gibt zwei Figuren, die sich in diesem Film von der Nebenfigur zur Hauptfigur gearbeitet haben. Die Sprachoffizierin Mikage Kiryu und der junge Pilot Sho Sawamura. Kiryu ist durch ihr Talent in extraterrestrischer Linguistik für die Mission auf dem fremden Planeten von Wert und Sho scheint sich, durch die animeüblichen Tollpatschigkeit in sie verguckt zu haben. Das Außenteam wird durch die bekannten Gesichter von Susumu Kodai und Kommunikations-Offizierin Yoshikazo Aiharaverstärkt. Technisch gibt es auch etwas Neues zu bestaunen: Das Team landet mit einem neuen Fahrzeug, der Ki-8 „Storch“. Es kann nicht nur fliegen, sondern ist auch als Amphibienfahrzeug zu nutzen. Leider verpufft der technische Auftritt, denn es wird nie wieder erwähnt und für den Ausgang der Geschichte irrelevant sein. Ebenfalls kann man sich über ein paar neue Musikthemen freuen, die um das bekannte militärische Seemanns-Thema arrangiert wurden.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199: Odyssey of the Celestial Ark
© KSM Anime

Fantasie wird Wirklichkeit

Während Vize-Kommandant Shiro Sanada die Gatlanten in Schach hält, macht der Expeditionstrupp nicht nur eine Reise auf einem fremden Planeten (der sich später als das sagenumwobene Shambleau herausstellt), sondern auch in die eigenen Erinnerungen, vorzugsweise in die von Kiryu. Deswegen entdecken sie nicht nur die Ruine der seetüchtigen Vorlage der Yamato, sondern verbringen auch Zeit in einem 20er-Jahre-Hotel namens Yamato. Dort treffen sie auf ein Gruppe Gamilas, die ebenfalls dort gestrandet sind, jedoch in ihre Fantasiewelt blicken. Durch die Situation mit den Feinden in einem Hotel gefangen zu sein, in dem es auch noch zu spuken beginnt, bringt die Kriegsfeinde zusammen.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199: Odyssey of the Celestial Ark
© KSM Anime

Reif fürs Kino

Man muss sich in der Serie auskennen, sonst hat man bei diesem Spielfilm nur Fragezeichen über dem Kopf. Aber Fans des SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATOmacht ODYSSEY OF THE CELESTIAL ARK extrem viel Freude. Strategische, actiongeladene Weltraumschlachten, fremde Spezies, interessante neue Figuren und ein Feind, der übermächtig zu sein scheint, punkten bei jedem Animefan. Dazu gibt es reichlich nostalgische Seefahrts-Metaphern, die man bei der Serie so lieben gelernt hat. Sogar ein Kampf der Yamato mit energiesaugenden Riesen-Oktopoden bekommt man dargeboten.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199: Odyssey of the Celestial Ark
© KSM Anime

Aber auch der Gamila Major Fommt Berger passt vielleicht in seiner Art nicht ganz zu seinen Landsleuten, aber bekommt viel Platz durch seine vielschichtige Vergangenheit und verlorene Liebe. Die gesamte Story wird in einem Prolog und Epilogüber eine UN-Cosmo-Force-Marine-Einheit eingerahmt. Der Anführer ist der Vater von Kiryu, was eine schöne Idee ist, aber leider kaum Relevanz für die Handlung der Yamato hat und für eine Perspektive auf das katastrophale Leben der Erdbewohner ist es dann doch leider zu wenig.

Space Battleship Yamato 2199: Odyssey of the Celestial Ark

“ASAKO 1&2″ – ABHÄNGIGKEITEN, ÄHNLICHKEITEN UND (K)EIN TAPIR

Der Film beginnt mit der kurzen aber intensiven Begegnung zwischen dem Mädchen Asako und dem Mädchenschwarm Baku. Er verkörpert den Freigeist und ist ihre erste große Liebe. Sie muss ja glücklich sein, wenn er sich für sie interessiert, denn sie ist ja nicht unbedingt eine Schönheit, urteilt die Mutter pragmatisch. Er wird nie ohne sie fortgehen, verspricht Bako Asako und sie ist glücklich. Sechs Monate später geht er ohne sie fort und kommt nicht mehr wieder.

Zwei Jahre später gibt sie das Warten endgültig auf und geht in die große Stadt Tokyo, um dort in einem Coffee-Shop zu arbeiten. In einem der Büros, die dieser Coffee-Shop beliefert, kommt es zur Begegnung zwischen Asako und Ryohei, der Baku zum Verwechseln ähnlich sieht. Sie ist verwirrt, stößt ihn von sich weg und läuft davon. Er findet sie interessant, ist aber durch ihr Verhalten nun auch verwirrt. Laut und frustriert schreit er am Balkon der Firma seinen Frust hinaus, denn sie vergleicht ihn mit einem “Baku”, dem chinesischen Schriftzeichen für Tapir. Auf seinem Smartphone erscheinen die Bilder von einem: er scheint wohl nicht ihr Typ zu sein…

Doch schließlich lässt sie sich auf ihn ein, nicht nur, aber auch wegen der Vermittlung ihrer Freundin Maya, die von Asakos Vergangenheit mit Baku allerdings nichts weiß. Nach und nach planen die beiden eine gemeinsame Zukunft und besichtigen ein Haus. “Willst du mich heiraten?”, fragt Ryohei sie. Da beichtet Asako es ihm, mit sehr schlechtem Gewissen, und ohne eine große Szene nimmt er es entgegen, denn er weiß es ja schon lange: er hat auf seinem Smartphone weiter recherchiert. Baku ist in der Zwischenzeit ein bekanntes Model geworden und sein Gesicht – und damit auch das von Ryohei – auf jeder Reklametafel und in jedem Werbespot zu finden. Die Beziehung von einst scheint schon lange Vergangenheit zu sein und zwischen Ryohei und Asako ist nun alles geklärt. Happy End.

Doch genau da taucht Baku wieder auf und steht vor Asakos Tür. Sie stößt ihn, wie davorRyohei, von sich weg und schlägt verwirrt die Wohnungstür zu. Aber Baku ist hartnäckig und taucht erneut beim gemeinschaftlichen Essen mit Maya und Ryohei im Restaurant auf. Und Asako nimmt seine hingestreckte Hand, verlässt das Gebäude und steigt in sein Auto. Die Freundin Maya bricht schwanger unter Tränen zusammen. “Du brauchst nie mehr wiederzukommen! Der arme Ryohei, wie kannst du nur!” Aber am Ende steigt Asako aus Bakus Autouft zurück und Ryohei wieder hinterher – wortwörtlich.

Eindruck

Asako 1&2” hat in der Umsetzung viele gute Ansätze und der Film lief nicht umsonst 2018 in Cannes. Die zart herauszoomende Kamera, wenn Asako Baku in den ersten Begegnungen verliebt hinterherwinkt und dann einfach nach hinten umfällt. Wenn sie sich, in einem zartgelben Oberteil, in eine dezent gemusterte blaue Decke hüllt und die Verlorenheit von Ryohei, alleine in seiner kleinen, dunklen Wohnung. Alle Farbstimmungen sind so fein und reduziert abgestimmt, dass sie im Hintergrund unbemerkt bleiben und so die Charaktere sensibel unterstützen können. Auch im Schnitt sind durchdachte Details in den Wiederholungen versteckt: so winkt Asako verliebt Baku hinterher, der da nicht wiederkommen wird; viel später wird sie Baku noch einmal symbolisch zum Abschied hinterher winken. Da aber wird er wiederkommen…

Noch viel mehr könnte man aufzählen, aber leider verliert es immer mehr an Zugkraft: denn jenseits der liebevollen und ästhetischen Gestaltung von Details plätschert der gesamte Inhalt leider auf einem emotionalen Trockengebiet. Von Anfang an durchzieht eine hartnäckige Inkonsequenz den Film. Da kann auch ein dramatisches Erdbeben nicht so recht aufwühlen, denn jeder Schrecken wird in den durchgekauten Beziehungsmustern weichgespült. So bleibt alles oberflächlich und harmlos: mit Händchenhalten oder Berührungen an der Wange will man eine Zartheit vermitteln, die oft an der Grenze zu Sentimentalität wandelt.

Dazwischen sind alle Gefühle und Beweggründe des Hauptcharakters, Asako, komplett abhängig und bestimmt von Baku. Auch wenn dieser schon lange nicht mehr in ihrem Leben ist, dann ist er es als Royhei. Keine Entscheidung ist emotional eigenständig und im Rückblick wundert man sich fast, wie sie es aus eigenem Antrieb in den Coffee-Shop geschafft hat. Besonders gegen Ende, wenn sie im Restaurant einfach mit Baku mitgeht, und alles andere plötzlich zurücklässt, bleiben ihre Motivationen nur schwer nachvollziehbar: man wandelt mit ihr wie in einer scheinbaren Traumsequenz, die sich einfach nicht auflösen möchte.

Vielleicht ist die Buchvorlage für den Film in unserer Gesellschaft nicht mehr ganz so zeitgemäß oder die Drehbuchadaption für eine wirkliche Ironisierung noch zu weich. “Ich kann dir nicht mehr vertrauen”, sagt Royhei am Ende zu ihr, nachdem er vorher symbolisch minutenlang vor ihr fortgelaufen ist. Trotzdem lässt er sie wieder in sein Haus. Trotzdem wird es weitergehen. Die herrenlose Katze wird wieder aufgenommen und sie ordnet sich puppenhaft und brav unter. Denn das Gesicht von Baku hat gesprochen und so sei es.

ASAKO_02

Filmvorschau für das Kinojahr 2019

Im folgenden Blogartikel berichten wir über Filme, die im Jahre 2019 veröffentlicht werden. Und so wie es aussieht werden einige Kultfilme veröffentlicht, die du nicht verpassen darfst!

Neue Filme, die wir 2019 anschauen können
Im Jahre 2019 wirst du dich bestimmt nicht langweilen. Denn es sind viele interessante Filme zu erwarten. Die Fortsetzung von „Hellboy“, „Captain Marvel“, „Spider-Man: Far From Home“ und zahlreiche andere Filme können wir nächstes Jahr im Kino anschauen. Also welche 2019 Filme sind besonders prospektiv? Hier nun zumindest schon mal eine kleine Kinovorschau 2019.

Leinwand
https://pixabay.com/de/kino-leinwand-ged%C3%A4mpft-vorhang-2093264/

  • 1. Hellboy 3

  • Veröffentlichungsdatum – 11. Januar 2019

    Hellboy-Fans warten schon ungeduldig auf die Fortsetzung des Films, obwohl der Regisseur Guillermo del Toro im Jahre 2017 alle Hoffnungen darauf zerstört hat. Im Unterschied zu den ersten zwei Teilen, die den Jugendlichen ab 12 Jahren freigegeben wurden, hat der dritte Teil ein härteres R-Rating. Auf solche Weise wird die Hauptfigur des Films fast genauso wie im Comic dargestellt. Schließlich wissen Comic-Fans Bescheid, dass Hellboy sich wahrscheinlich wie Deadpool verhielt und kein Blatt vor den Mund nahm. „Hellboy 3“, wird uns hoffentlich zeigen, dass nicht nur MArvel Kultfilme über Superhelden hinbekommt.

  • 2. Captain Marvel
  • Veröffentlichungsdatum – 7. März 2019

    Captain Marvel wird der erste Film mit weiblicher Hauptperson sein. Carol Danvers oder Ms. Marvel erschien in den Marvel-Comics noch im Jahre 1968. Trotzdem gab es noch keine Filme, die dieser Superheldin gewidmet waren. Carol ist eine der mächtigsten Superheldinnen von Marvel. Sie ist immun gegen einige Gifte, unglaublich stark und ausdauerhaft. Außerdem verfügt sie über den sechsten Sinn, dank welchen sie die Zukunft vorhersagen kann. Da der männliche Captain Marvel eine wichtige Rolle bei ihrer Verwandlung in eine Superheldin gespielt hat, wird sie auch als Captain Marvel bezeichnet.

  • 3. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  • Veröffentlichungsdatum – 5. Juli 2019

    Spiderman
    https://pixabay.com/de/spiderman-kid-hero-superhelden-2478977/

    Um einen neuen Film über den nerdigen Teenager Peter Parker herzustellen, haben sich Sony, Marvel und Disney zusammengeschlossen. Im Großen und Ganzen ist dieser neue Spider-Man-Film eine Fortsetzung von Spider-Man: Homecoming, der im Jahre 2017 veröffentlicht wurde. In diesem Film geht es um Ereignisse nach Avengers 4, wenn Spider-Man und seine Freunde nach Europa reisen, um dort ihre Ferien zu verbringen. Ob es ihnen gelingt, sich zu erholen, können die Zuschauer am 5. Juli 2019 erfahren.

  • 4. Star Wars 9: Episode IX
  • Veröffentlichungsdatum – 19. Dezember 2019

    Zu den meisterwarteten Filmen gehört sicherlich der dritte Teil der Star Wars-Trilogie, wo ein epischer Kampf zwischen der dunklen und der hellen Seite im Vordergrund steht. Was passiert mit Leia Organa, Kylo Ren und Rey und wie geht es nach dem Tod von Carrie Fisher weiter? Das erfährst du nur Ende 2019.
    Schlussfolgerungen

    2019 warten auf uns zahlreiche spannende Filme, dabei stehen die Fortsetzungen der Kultkinostücke zweifellos im Mittelpunkt. Wir sind überzeugt davon, dass das nächste Jahr wirklich heiß für alle Filmfans wird.

    Alle Beiträge News Filmkritiken Serien Trailer Gewinnspiele Specials „Wir“ („Us“) Kritik: Ein abgedreht-humorvoller Horrortrip

    „Wir“-Regisseur Jordan Haworth Peele ist nicht erst seit seinem großen Erfolg „Get Out“ als Regisseur in Erscheinung getreten. Doch mit „Get Out“ war er erstmals alleine auf dem Regiestuhl und überzeugte Kritiker und das Publikum gleichermaßen. Sein Film über ein normales Pärchen, welche die Schwiegereltern von ihr besuchen und dann in einem irren Thriller aufgeht, war einer der Überraschungen in 2017.
    Nun nahm Jordan Peele erneut auf dem Regiestuhl platz und präsentiert mit „Wir“ („Us“ im Original“) sein neuestes Werk. Die Frage, die sich viele zweifelsohne stellen, kann er mit dem neuen Film an den Erfolg von „Get Out“ anknüpfen und erneut eine skurrile wie spannende Geschichte erzählen? Kurzum: Ja. Dennoch könnte dem ein oder anderen Get Out-Fan „Wir“ doch zu viel sein.
    In „Wir“ erzählt Peele die Geschichte von Familie Wilson, die sich während eines Urlaubs hemmungsloser Gewalt ausgeliefert sieht. Diese Gewalt wird von einer ebenfalls vierköpfigen Familie ausgeübt, die den Wilsons beängstigend ähnlichsieht. Sind die Wilsons in dieser Gewaltnacht ihren Doppelgängern ausgeliefert? Vor kurzem noch im Auto entspannt „I Got 5 On It“ gehört und wenig später um das Überleben kämpfend. Schnell wird deutlich, dass  „Wir“ kein normaler Film ist.
    „Wir“ ist ein abgedreht wie humorvoll und gleichzeitig ebenso erbarmungslos brutaler Film. Er bedient sich zwar gängiger „Homeinvasion“ und „Thriller-Elemente“, gleichzeitig aber wirkt „Wir“ unkonventionell, als hätte Peele dieses Mal mehr Freiheiten gehabt. Selten war ein Film in letzter Zeit so komisch, im nächsten Moment so ernst und brutal, um wenig später dem Zuschauer wieder ein Lachen zu entlocken.
    „Wir“ stellt ohne zweifel Genrekonventionen auf den Kopf, was den Film umso sehenswerter macht und vermutlich niemanden kalt lassen wird. Der eine mag sich an dem Humor stören, ein anderer wiederum an dem vielen Blut. Doch „Wir“ fesselt, vor allem wegen der ersten Hälfte des Films und macht Spaß. Schade hingegen ist, dass sich das Konzept in der zweiten Hälfte etwas abnutzt, nur um dann in dem erwarteten Twist und Finale zu münden. Das ist es auch, was mich trotz der guten Unterhaltung, stört: Eben dieser Twist wiegt fast zu schwer, verwirrt und stellt den Rest in den Schatten. Dass dann auch noch Fragen unbeantwortet lassen, geschenkt.
    Dennoch: Wer gefallen an „Get Out“ gefunden hat, wird hier eine neue Stufe der „Verrücktheit“ erleben und darf sich auf was gefasst macht. „Wir“ ist ein klassischer Horrorfilm, dessen muss man sich bewusst sein. Ich bin sehr auf den nächsten Film von Peele gespannt. Es kann eigentlich nicht noch verrückter werden. Oder doch?
    „Wir“ („Us“)  Kritik: Ein abgedreht-humorvoller Horrortrip

    3 Tips for Getting a Good Documentary Interview

    “I think an interview, properly considered, should be an investigation.”

    I’ve spent the past few years moonlighting as a local reporter.

    My background’s in screenwriting, so it’s a job I came to kind of accidentally (someday I’ll write a book about it)! But in any case, I’ve learned a great deal – especially about the importance of a good interview.

    Meanwhile, documentary filmmaking is a world I know well.

    As a teacher with Lights Film School, I’ve had the opportunity to guide students from their first documentary proposals to finished products. And I’ve also found myself a collaborator with and champion of a particular documentary filmmaker, Garret Harkawik, to whom I happen to be married!

    In 2011, Garret began making short documentaries, many of which are interview-driven. The more I’ve worked in my newspaper gig, the more insights I’ve gleaned into Garret’s films, and the more we’ve begun to discuss where our work intersects and where it differs.

    And when it comes to interview techniques, I’ve found there’re far more intersections than differences.

    Naturally, we’re here today to discuss documentary filmmaking. That is the heart of this piece.

    But as I’ve grown and done my own research into the art of the interview, I’ve learned that there are a surprising number of interview tenets that hold true across mediums – film, television, journalism, podcasts, you name it.

    What's the purpose of the interview? What do you want your subject to share?

    Why interview someone in the first place?

    A documentary interview can serve multiple purposes:

    It may be an opportunity for an expert to share scientific, historical, or other information so as to educate the viewer and support a point. It may reveal someone’s feelings or reflections on an experience that’s significant to the bigger picture. It also may be an opportunity for someone to share their side of a story, if you’re presenting contrasting views.

    Whatever the purpose, depending on the style of documentary you’re making, interviews will be central to your film. And it most likely will be YOU who conducts them. Which probably means you’re asking questions like, “How do I actually do this? How can I make sure I get a good documentary interview?”

    In answer, I’ve drawn on my reporting background, teaching experiences, conversations with Garret, and advice from other professionals to provide a well-rounded overview of how to do a documentary interview. My hope is that you’ll feel empowered and excited to get started on the process!

    To get the ball rolling on our conversation, let’s break down interview best practice into three points, beginning with:

    1. BE PREPARED for your documentary interview

    When it comes to a documentary interview, there are two elements to preparedness:

    The first is your camera and gear. The second is the interview itself.

    Regarding your camera and gear, it’s usually a good idea to check out the space where you’ll be conducting the actual interview.

    As Garret says, “Knowing where you’re going to shoot and what the challenges are, that part is just like any other location shoot. What is the sound like? Will it be noisy? Will there be natural light that’s going to change? If your interview may last two or three hours, the light will be different. Pick a location where you’re not worried about that or sound.”

    If you’re controlling the light, a whole new world opens up to you!

    A 3-point lighting setup is traditional, combining key, fill, and back lights. You could go for a soft and gentle appearance or something much more dramatic and contrasty… It depends entirely on your vision, the location, and your tools.

    Where will you be shooting your documentary interview? Know the location!

    Whatever your lighting arrangement, keep track of “eye line”, which is where your interview subject is looking. Nine times out of ten, it should be consistent throughout the whole interview. Are they looking at you? At someone off to the side? Into the camera? Check in with this from time-to-time to make sure that it doesn’t change.

    Garret also notes the importance of confirming that you have enough media to store your footage. “Pick a camera that will let you shoot non-stop,” he advises. You want to avoid swapping out cards every few minutes, since that can really interrupt the flow for an interviewee.

    In terms of sound, you want to ensure a clean, high-quality signal. But also choose a setup that won’t impede your subject. “If you have them wired to a lav that runs into a soundboard, if they want to get up and walk around, it’s a whole production,” Garret shares. “Using a boom on a pole or a wireless lav is easier.”

    In terms of the documentary interview itself, arrive prepared, knowing what you want to talk about!

    This applies across mediums. Whether you’re interviewing someone for a news article, podcast, or something else, you should have some familiarity with their background and relevant topics.

    How to make the most of your limited time

    In my own experience, when I’m working on an article, I typically get just ONE SHOT to sit down with a subject. In that time – usually anywhere between a half-hour and two hours – I need to learn everything I can from that person, as it relates to my article.

    So if I’m meeting John Doe to discuss his experiences as a state legislator, I need to spend the time I’m given asking him about – and being genuinely curious about! – his time as a state legislator.

    And naturally, to make the most of the time we have together, I need to go in prepared. This often means considering any of the following:

    • Why am I interviewing this person? What unique perspective can they offer?
    • What do I need this person to explain?
    • If I’ve done a pre-interview, what have they already told or revealed to me that I want to get them to tell or reveal again, this time on-camera?
    • What facts do I need to come away understanding or capturing?
    • If the purpose of the interview is to have the subject recall something that happened in the past, how much of that event do I need them to recall?
    • How do I want them to reflect on the event? If it’s a historical topic, perhaps I want them to provide context. If it’s a personal topic (or if they lived through the historical event), perhaps I want to capture their feelings.

    Personally, I find it very helpful to develop a list of specific questions that I plan to ask. Of course, the questions vary greatly, depending on who I’m interviewing and for what purpose! Here’s the key point, though:

    That list of questions is just a jumping off point.

    Remember, your list of interview questions is just a starting point.

    In other words, I’ve never conducted a good interview that relied solely on my prepared questions.

    My best interviews happen when I’m fully present with the subject. Yes, we’re having a conversation about a specific subject in their life. But if I stay too tied to that subject and my questions, I miss a lot. I have to truly listen to what that person is saying, and improvise questions based around that.

    Which brings me to what I believe to be the most important aspect of the art of the interview:

    2. BE CURIOUS during your documentary interview

    I used to be terrible at making conversation.

    I was at an awkward family barbecue about ten years ago, and I found myself talking to the husband of the friend of a family member. We were many degrees removed from really needing to take a serious interest in one another, but there we were.

    Neither of us was particularly good at making small talk. Eventually, I remarked that it was a beautiful day out. A minute later, his wife came over to offer him a drink, and he said, “Oh, thank God! Someone’s here. We were starting to talk about the weather.” ?

    Arguably that guy was worse at making conversation than me. I mean come on, who says that? But since I started doing interviews for the newspaper a few years ago, I’ve definitely become an increasingly good dinner party guest. I also kill at wedding cocktail hours, wakes, funerals, and awkward family barbecues.

    Why?

    Because good interviewing relies on curiosity, and so does being a good conversationalist.

    If you know how to get someone talking about themselves, and you know how to be — not act, but BE — genuinely interested in what they’re saying, then you’ll never find yourself talking about the weather again.

    Oh, and your documentary interviews will improve exponentially!

    Keep an ear open

    One of my favorite TV writers, Emily VanDerWerff, interviewed American journalist Dan Rather about interviewing (metaaaaa)! I was exhilarated to find that Rather’s views on interviewing 100% line up with my own:

    “The keys to doing a good interview are … the first three things are preparation, preparation, and preparation. Once you get past those three, the other key is to be a good listener. Often, the best questions come not from what you have prepared to ask, not from your list of questions in your notebook, but from listening to the interview subject very carefully and picking up questions from what your interview subject says.”

    Bryan Glazer – a famous film producer who often collaborates with director Ron Howard – also wrote a book on curiosity. It’s called A Curious Mind, and in it, Glazer recounts his 30+ years of curiosity.

    Over the course of his career, Glazer conducted what he calls “curiosity interviews” with people he found interesting. “The technique is the same – asking questions – regardless of the subject,” Glazer writes. “But the mission, the motivation, and the tone vary. The curiosity of a detective trying to solve a murder is very different from the curiosity of an architect trying to get the floor plan right for a family’s house.”

    He goes on to claim that regardless of subject, regardless of who’s doing the asking, curiosity can serve nearly anyone well:

    “One thing I know about curiosity: it’s democratic. Anyone, anywhere, of any age or education level, can use it.”

    Or take it from Errol Morris, regarded by many as a master of the documentary interview:

    “I think an interview, properly considered, should be an investigation. You shouldn’t know what the interview will yield. Otherwise, why do it at all?”

    Follow your curiosity! Be open to where it may lead.

    Be curious. Listen to and truly engage with your interview subject. And be YOU!

    3. BE YOU throughout your documentary interview

    So, be PREPARED. Be CURIOUS. And be YOU.

    YOU are the one conducting the documentary interview, after all. Since an interview is essentially a conversation between two people, that means you comprise 50% of the atmosphere and play a large role in driving the results.

    You set the tone for the interview.

    If you want it to be serious, you should be serious. If you want it to be fun, loose, and free-flowing, then you should be all three of those things. Your subject’s tone likely will reflect yours.

    Remember, too, that you can edit yourself out.

    My reporting work winds up in print, so these days, I don’t have to deal with putting my voice out there for others to hear. But one of the most painful parts of beginning to interview people was hearing my own voice in my recordings. It’s taken me a long time to accept that I am not the story, and I don’t really need to be too concerned with how I sound in playback.

    Some documentary filmmakers choose to include their own voices and selves in their documentary films. That’s their style; that’s fine. Others prefer to cut an interview into a film in such a way that it doesn’t seem like there’s anyone there at all asking questions. Also fine.

    It all depends on how you want to tell your story. You may not love how you sound in playback, but please let that go when you’re doing the interview. You are not the subject!

    Assuming it’s ethical and respectful, whatever you need to do and say in the moment to get your subject to open up, you should do. The best interviews are the ones in which both the interviewer and interviewee become unaware of the artifice of the interview.

    In other words (and to reiterate), your documentary interview should be, more or less, a conversation.

    Whatever the medium, a good documentary interview tends to feel like a good conversation.

    Think about post-production

    Even so, one of Garret’s most important tips for conducting documentary interviews is to keep an ear open for how your subject’s answer can be edited. Encourage them to answer questions in ways that will make sense if you were to cut out the question.

    So for example, if you ask someone their favorite color, encourage them to answer with, “My favorite color is green” instead of just “green”. This will lend a lot of flexibility in the edit.

    And finally, don’t forget that visuals matter in the medium of film! When you’re choosing a location, consider how you can reflect your subject in that location. If you’re interviewing a veterinarian, then it could make sense to interview them in their office or at a dog park instead of, say, a nondescript shopping mall.

    Also think broadly around what elements of their life and surroundings you may be able to bring in and use as props. How can you help your viewer understand your subject more deeply? How can you manifest them in the environment? Basically, how can you leverage the power and subtlety of visual storytelling to convey meaning in your film?

    In Conclusion

    What do you think? Have you ever conducted a documentary interview? What are your favorite techniques? We’d love to hear about your documentary filmmaking experiences in the comments below!

    Also, if you’re looking for examples of fantastic interviews in films and television to inspire you, a few come to mind, in no particular order:

    Check out Errol Morris’ classic The Thin Blue Line; anything by Werner Herzog, who often inserts himself into his films; Joshua Oppenheimer’s chilling documentary, The Act of Killing; and The Jinx. Yes, that last one’s a television series, but it’s worth investigating, since it concerns the relationship between the subject and the interviewer.

    Happy watching!

    10 Best Short Film Blogs

    These days, blogs are an important source for most of us find valuable information and insights. Whether your interests are travel, cooking, home decoration, great gift ideas or film, there are millions of blogs online where you can find all that you need.

    As you might expect, the number of full-length feature film blogs numbers in the hundreds of thousands. Some, such as the BFI, are a great place to find all kinds of articles that will help you discover new and interesting movies. Others can be a frustrating mix of garbage and mildly interesting information that might just make them worth visiting.

    If you are a short film lover, but don’t have the time to waste searching for the best blogs, then here is our list of the top 10 short film blogs of 2018.

    1. Short of the Week

    Short of the Week is a great weekly blog that is focused on short films. The blog reviews all the latest short film festivals and the best short movie releases. So if you are looking for the latest news from the short film industry, then Short of the Week is the place to start.

    Delving into their archive is a great way to discover new films that you might have missed. Their roundups of the best films from that year are a goldmine to short film enthusiasts everywhere.

    2. Filmmaker Magazine

    If you are an aspiring filmmaker or are interested in how films get made, Filmmaker Magazine is the blog for you. It is full to the brim of insider stories from filmmakers who tell how they made their films.

    All the articles are extremely well written and researched. The topics range from reviews of the best films to how to turn your short film into a feature. The site hosts hundreds of top quality articles, a good majority of which are short movie focused.

    3. Film Shortage

    This great site aims to help short filmmakers raise money for their next movie. It reviews all the best crowdfunding projects and writes them up to provide its readers with a list of recommendations.

    The site has an excellent blog that covers a range of mainstream film topics like the top 10 short films by women filmmakers and the most acclaimed works of director Francis Ford Coppola.

    4. Watch Dust

    Don’t let this site’s slightly strange name put you off. It hosts a really excellent Sci-Fi movie focused blog that features lots of interesting articles. Their blog page is quite fancy so takes a little time to load, but once up, you will see that it is crammed with great articles.

    Topics range from Q and A sessions with filmmakers to movie poster reviews. Another great thing about their blog is that they keep it up to date with all the latest short film competitions such as the Kin X Dust sci-fi short film competition.

    If you are a Sci-fi short movie fan, then Dust is the premier site for all your needs.

    5. Go Short

    This great site has been posting regular blog articles since May 2012. Its posts are focused entirely on introducing audiences to new short films. They review new shorts on a weekly basis, making this an excellent place to discover new short films.

    Much of the content is music video orientated, so if you are a lover of MTV then you will certainly love Go Short. Many of the videos are very creative and original; a particular favorite is “Birthplace by Sil van der Woerd and Jorik Dozy”.

    6. Sofy tv

    While it might seem a little arrogant to include our own site on a list of best 10 short film blogs, we have plenty of good reasons to do so. To balance things out a bit, we have included it at number six because we are still working hard to get more articles up for our viewers to read.

    The great thing about the Sofy.tv blog is that the vast majority of the films that we review are available as part of the Sofy.tv on-demand video streaming catalog. For more on the Sofy.tv revolution, head to our homepage or view this article.

     

     

    We try to keep the topics on our blog as varied as possible. We make sure to keep our members up to date with all the latest releases on the platform, as well as posting one article per week about up and coming film festivals. We usually post one other article per week, which can be anything from tips for filmmakers to the latest news stories and topics of interest from the behind the lens.

    7. Monologue Blogger

    Monologue Blogger is a fantastic little site that aims to inspire the creatively minded. It is loaded with monologues, scripts. short film reviews, as well as screenings and interviews.

    Though much of its material is not short film focused, it still has a number of really good articles that will be of interest to up and coming filmmakers. Topics include “How To Become An Actor With No Experience” and “10 Practice Scripts for Actors” etc.

    8. Shortfundly

    Shortfundly is another great choice for those aspiring filmmakers out there. Their blog is full of tips on how to nurture your creative side as well as tips on how to improve your technique.

    The site currently has over 120 pages of articles, meaning that you will never be at a loss for something interesting to read.

    9. ASFF – Aesthetica Short Film Festival

    Aiming to promote their awesome annual short film festival, this blog is full of the latest news about the ASFF festival and related events. They also take the time to fill their blog with lots of interesting articles relating to the latest film releases and other news from the short film industry.

    Their “5 to See: This Weekend” posts are really helpful if you find yourself wondering what shorts you should watch over the weekend.

    10. The Guardian: Film Blog + Short Films

    The Guardian newspaper has for a long time now been a great supporter of short films. Not only does the newspaper regularly sponsor and support short films but it also includes a short film blog on its site.

    Its high-quality articles are a must for any film lover, though they generally are far lengthier than the other blogs featured here, including our own Sofy.tv blog.

    The only drawback to this blog is that not enough short movie focused articles are being posted. It would be great to see a few more just in case anyone from The Guardian is reading this.

    Interview: Gu Xiaogang

    Shot over two years in first-time filmmaker Gu Xiaogang’s hometown in the Fuyang district of Hangzhou during a time of extreme change—ambitious construction, mass relocation—and starring members of the director’s nuclear and extended family in spaces familiar to them, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains is oriented toward documentation. And yet its aesthetics and form bear no resemblance to those of a documentary film. It’s unambiguously scripted, plotted, choreographed, shot, and edited like a fictional narrative. And a great one at that. Only the first of what Gu promises will be a trilogy of films exploring the terrain, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains has a wide scope and ensemble cast yet feels minutely observed, lived-in, life-sized, and unhurried by anything beyond its own frame—a close cousin to the work of Edward Yang. When we look back at life along the Fuchun Mountains during the second decade of the 21st century, at how the landscape and the people changed, at how winter became spring became summer became fall and then winter again, and onward, we’ll have a peerless document in the movie Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains—akin to the one recorded in wash painting on paper, created in and representing the same place 670 years before.

    For Film Comment, Eric Hynes interviewed Gu Xiaogang in Cannes where Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains had its world premiere in Critics’ Week.

    This is a web-only interview. Read Eric Hynes’s Make it Real column on the film in the July-August 2019 issue of Film Comment.

    What’s your relationship to the region depicted in the film? 

    This is my hometown–Hangzhou, Fuyang.

    Had you always wanted to make a film set there? Or did this project emerge more recently?

    I wanted to write a story about my parents. They ran a restaurant for many years, which had been demolished because of the government reconstruction of the area. I had been studying film in Beijing for a year or two, then went back home to do some field research for the script and found that my hometown had been rapidly changing a great deal. At the very beginning, it was just a suburban place–it was not included in Hangzhou City. Later it became a district [in Hangzhou], and they created a high-speed train to Beijing that only takes 5 hours. Right now they are building subways, preparing for the 2020 Asian Olympic Games. I found the changes to be so big, and happened so quickly. In order to present what is happening in the city right now, I enlarged the scene, and put some new characters in the script. I also added the background of four seasons.

    Considering you wanted to represent these rapid changes in the area, which were happening in real time, why did you elect to make a fictional film, rather than a documentary? 

    The film at first was inspired by an ancient Chinese landscape painting named “Along the River During the Qingming Festival.” And this painting technically-speaking is very good, but besides it also has a very high value of documentary–like record. It lets people commemorate or remember what happened in that time–how people wore clothes and how they communicated, how they sold things. This kind of painting inspired me a lot. Somehow it can explain why I chose to make a fictional film rather than a documentary. I wanted to employ a picturesque way of depiction. I wanted to use this film in a parallel way [to this type of painting], to show what happened during the present day.  The film itself is only a medium to show these kinds of changes [that were going on in the town]. I wanted to try something new, using a new film language. So I chose a fictional film inspired by landscape paintings, rather than only documentary. Because it’s like a kind of brand new thing in film language, there weren’t that many references.

    Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains (Gu Xiaogang, 2019)

    Such transference from one form to another always seems productive, or at least stimulating, opening up new possibilities for discovery, or even a new language as you say. No matter how hard you try to make a painting, it’s still a film, yet the impossible attempt yields something new. The genre of painting you’re referencing does have a documentary quality, recording the clothing of the era, the homes, and countless other observed details, but it’s also very narrative, and tends to be linear in the way that you look at it. You’re reading through it.

    For the Chinese shen shui scroll painting–it’s not always [presented] like when we visit museums. It’s on a spindle, it’s a scroll. You need to open it slowly, and from right to left, giving it something like [the quality of] a film. It allows you to tell the story slowly, rather than just give you all of a sudden everything. For normal photos or pictures, we can see the space directly, immediately. But [in shen shui] you can see the eternity of time and infinity of space. Something like this. For a single shot, it’s not hard to represent things as a painting, or the feeling of a painting I want you to have. The question is how to make it feel like a painting in general, for the whole film. There are so many filmmaking techniques–do they harm this sense of a painting? We discovered a new way of shooting–it’s about the emptiness of the landscape. When you open the scroll of a painting, you will see the landscape first. Then, when you take a closer look, you will see the characters, and other details. Then you will see the landscape again. This was one solution to make the whole film like a painting. We created a term called “scroll montage.”

    “Scroll montage”?

    Montage, yes. For example, when you see a painting, you can see the trees in the foreground, and something else in the background. And they exist simultaneously. Do you remember the very big trees in the film?

    Yes.

    It connects different characters. They all have relationships with these trees, and [these relationships] take place simultaneously–at the same time. We’re using the camera, the lens, to create the same kind of thing [as the painting]. But it is still a film, it’s the medium I want to use to represent what I want to express. I want to tell a story to the audience, and to use the plot as a container for my aesthetic expressions.

    Regarding this notion of “scroll montage,” how much did arise through the editing, or were you preparing for that effect during production? Did you always know exactly how this was all going to fit together?

    This idea of “scroll montage” developed more and more during the production. During the middle of production, actually. At the very beginning, I edited and shot at the same time. Since we were making it over four seasons, we had some time to wait and consider, and reconsider whether [what we were doing was] good or not. For a single shot or scene, it’s easier to capture the feelings of paintings. But for the whole thing–the setting up of the aesthetics to represent the theme of infinity, of time and space–we arrived at that during editing, in post-production. The whole procedure of the film was arduous and very difficult, because it was the first feature I’ve made. I was always learning something new while shooting this film.

    Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, (Gu Xiaogang, 2019)

    That seems ideal to me, not always knowing exactly what you’re going to do, and figuring out a language and methodology as you go, as you process what’s happening. You used the word “container” before, referring to the story, the narrative, but I feel like in some ways you’ve also created a container big enough to allow for things to happen that other films might miss, like the everyday changes in the region, and also changes over the four seasons. 

    Time plays a very important role in this film. Which not only refers to the time I spent shooting–it took a long time, three years in total–but also time is a character. For me, the filmmaker stands in the background, not in the foreground. For example, the long shot of swimming in the summer. It took me two years in total to get this shot, this scene. We went back to that place and captured the shot every summer, and in total we got four or five takes. My role was just like the man who is conducting a ceremony of sacrifice. In every different take the fog was different, the gifts were different. I preferred this one that featured two dogs. It was like god just fell to the earth and gave me two dogs. It was an interaction between myself, the film god, and nature. It wasn’t just left to me to decide everything. 

    Did you know from the beginning how long it was going to take to make the film? Or were you planning on one year, and then realized you needed more time, another cycle through the four seasons? Not to harp on this, but that length of shoot is far more typical of a documentary, to spend two to three years filming in the same region. How did you maintain a continuity and commitment from the actors, considering this span of time?  

    It’s not what I had planned, to shoot for two full seasons. But at the beginning there was no money. Yet we still needed to record the changes that were happening so rapidly. So we adopted some indie film methods to record it. You can see that some scenes were shot by a Sony A7S–very simple, not high technology. And there were no stars in the crew, no stars among the actors. For financiers it was too risky for them to put money in this kind of project. And then with the four seasons [approach]–it was not normal. So I got some money from loans, and from friends, and got a chance to shoot some scenes. Then I went to a lot of film festivals that had pitching programs, and brought some material to show people, where I had the chance to meet the film’s [eventual] financier, Factory Gate Films, who supported us financially and creatively. As for how we maintained the relationships with the actors and the crew members, most of the actors are my relatives. So even after we finished shooting for a while, we hung out together often. Especially because China is a very social society. And then among the crew, nobody was very experienced. So we made progress together, we shared the bitterness together, the happiness together. It was not that difficult to get along well with each other.

    Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, (Gu Xiaogang, 2019)

    Were your relatives playing direct versions of themselves, or were there variations and wholly fictional characters as well? 

    Most of them just play themselves. Even for the fictional characters, one person is the combination of different kinds of people reflected on himself. Even when I got a bigger budget, I wanted to keep using relatives as actors, because they bring something very sincere. I learned this from the movies of Ken Loach–where you’re still touched even though he has very high techniques of filmmaking. Some techniques won’t harm the true action.  

    Since you mentioned Ken Loach, I’m wondering who and what else you were watching when thinking about your own work–beyond the painting. 

    I’ve also been inspired by Hou Hsiao-hsien’s films, and also Ozu’s Tokyo Story, the Greek filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos, and also Apichatpong Weerasethakul. 

    It’s exciting to see a work that feels entirely new, but that also makes you, in ways small and great, think of others filmmakers working at a high level. Do you mind my asking how old you are?

    30.

    Bless you. I can’t wait to see more.  

    Well, it’s a trilogy, so you will have two more [to see]! This is the first volume, and I have two more to shoot. There will be a new story in volumes two and three–I will adopt the perspective of the river. But the characters will overlap to some degree.