Japanese film reviewer March Schilling was a jury member of the Asian Cinema Competition at the 11th edition of BIFFes.
In an interview with Jagadish Angadi, he shares his views on Kannada art house movies and strongly bats for their screening at Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) for their content.
“I believe Kannada literature has wonderful content for art house films. These films should be part of TIFF,” he says.
The film he stresses the most is ‘Mookajjiya Kanasugalu’. He points out, “I was wondering why filmmakers in Kannada didn’t attempt to film ‘Mookajjiya Kanasugalu’ all these years. It’s such a fantastic movie. The novel should have been filmed decades ago.”
Shares his thoughts on Indian cinema, he believes that Indian cinema isn’t growing in terms of number of admissions at international film festivals.
He elaborates, “Merit of content is the biggest challenge in Indian films for a greater global presence. Indian filmmakers want their films’ presence at the film festivals like Cannes and Venice Film Festival. This won’t happen unless quality is improved.”
He further suggests to use online platforms effectively, “It is high time Indians used online exhibition patterns like Netflix.”
The film reviewer also bats for co-production between India and Japan. “We’ve co-production treaty with China and co-production agreement with France. We can have one with India as it will benefit each other,” he stresses.
On Indo-Japan film tie-up, he says the Indian filmmakers should use the Japanese distribution system effectively to promote their films in Japan.
“If an Indian film is awarded in TIFF, it catches the attention of the audience,” he says.
He adds, “Our films rely on manga, comics and animation. Young Indians may be opening up to these genres. Hence, more Japanese films should be screened in India to evoke interest for our films.”
He adds, “Though Japanese films have space for Indian actors, India is still far for us. Differences in culture and taste of the audience block presence of Indian actors in Japanese films.”
He also points out that Indian filmmakers fail to completely explore Japan while shooting their films.
He says, “There are 48 provinces, controlled by Japanese Film Commission, that handle procedures for shooting. The commission helps complete procedural hurdles. You should have a co-production with Japan to be eligible for concession of expenses involved in the shooting,” he says.
He signs off saying that India and Japan should create more interest for each others’ films.
“Bollywood has a big market; so do regional language films. In every film festival in India, Japanese films should be screened so that the audience here is slowly opened up to receiving Japanese content.”
About the reviewer
March Schilling has been a Japanese film reviewer since 1989. He has been a programme advisor for the Udine Far East Film Festival since 2000, curating retrospectives on Nikkatsu action films. The books he has authored include ‘The Encyclopaedia of Japanese Pop Culture’, ‘The Yakuza Movie Book - A Guide to Japanese Gangster Films’ and ‘No Border No Limits - Nikkatsu Action Cinema’.
Japan’s movie culture
Japan witnessed the release of over 600 films in 2018. The island country has over 3,500 screens and a limited number of single screen theatres. Every screen has around five or six shows. Sometimes, a screening lasts until midnight. Japan also has a heavy demand for Hollywood films. Even in rural areas, people prefer to watch movies on smartphones and Netflix.