Message (English)

Message from New York
Lily Festival
directed by Sachi Hamano
Hikari Hori
Senior Curator, Japan Society Film Center, New York

Sachi Hamano, the director of the award winning independent film "Lily Festival" has had quite an unusual career for a woman director in Japan. She entered in the film industry in 1968 as an assistant director to low budget 35 mm pornographic film making, a genre called pink film in Japan. Debuting as a director in 1971, she has produced more than 300 theatrical porn films, most of them commercially successful. After the advent of VCR in the late 1980s, her films were often reformatted for video rentals after their theatrical distribution. In particular, her early 1990s series "Reverse Massage Parlor," in which working women receive superb services from good-looking young men, were said to be an underground hit among women.
It is not unusual in Japan that aspiring young directors-to-be first enter the adult film industry to gain experience (since the declining studios no longer offer them training or secure directorship), and then move to non-porn filmmaking, as Masayuki Suo, the director of "Shall We Dance?" did. In case of Hamano, her first non-porn independent feature film was the 1998 "In Search of a Lost Writer," which aimed to recreate the life and works of female novelist Midori Osaki. The film mobilized more than 12,000 women supporters, fundraisers, and feminist activists.
The award winning "Lily Festival" is Hamano's second non-porn feature. The heroines of the story are seven women who range in age from 69 to 91. When a man moves into their old-fashioned apartment building, a tremendous commotion ensues. Utterly unlike a typically reticent Japanese man, this old fellow charms the women with graceful gestures and eloquent rhetoric. This romantic comedy, reminiscent of the Japanese classic text "The Tale of Genji" but definitely subverting it, is a lively and straightforward portrayal of elderly women's sexuality and desire, but at the same time it serves as a criticism of society's treatment of those in the doubly discriminated position of 'getting old' and 'being a woman.' This feminist female pornographer who continues to direct both pink and non-porn features completely changes images of Japanese women and filmmaking.

Message from Montreal
"Lily Festival" and the Montreal Film Festival 2002
Ms.Sachi Hamano, the director, and Mr.Yamazaki, the scenario writer, were much impressed by the whole experience of the festival in Montreal. The highlights are following points.

a) Panel discussion by the Women's film directors association of Quebec on 29th August 2002. Participants were; Anne Wild(Ger) Sachi Hamano(Jap) Helene Klodawsky(Can) Susana Amaral(Bras) Cecil Clairval(Fra) Beverly Shaffer(Can) Laura Muscardin(Ita) Ellen Pittleman (US)
b) Audience reaction on 4 showing of Lily festival

Panel discussion
Eight female directors, whose movies were shown in the festival, gathered for the panel discussion with the audience. Each one of them introduced themselves and explained why they wanted to make this particular movie. Although their background cannot be more different, all of them talked about their hard effort to become a director, and difficulties to fund their projects. "Never give up" was the universal message from the directors to the audience, many of whom want to become directors themselves.

As to the speech by Sachi, the audience was really surprised when they heard that her movie "Lily Festival" was only made possible after receiving a bag of the little pocket money sent by 12,000 women across Japan.

In my opinion, all directors presented there took audacious risks in order to be noticed. They dared to choose the subject that others would not. That must be the necessary element to break through the barrier.

Audience reaction
Word of mouth created the capacity audience for her movie. Many people waited in line after the movie to say to her in person, "Thank you very much." "It is a great movie." "Please keep challenging" "Looking forward to seeing your next movie" etc.
One old lady, apparently around 80 years old, said with tears, "Thanks to this movie, now I have a hope to live on my life." Middle-aged men also came to say that they really enjoyed the movie. Gay people also came to say that they were thrilled by the movie.

Montreal audience is highly educated. And they have great expectations.
Sachi and Yamazaki san were struck by the difference in the audience reaction from that in Japan. In Japan, the audience is quiet, and remains subdued without showing any emotional reaction. They do not usually exchange words with the director. Sachi really liked the audience's straight reaction in Montreal, as it is encouraging to her.

"What do women really want?"
TV show, "The sex and the city", has finally ended after 6 seasons. Now, what shall women in North America watch on TV? More importantly, what can they talk about in the women's locker room? In Japan, the best seller "MAKEINU NO TOOBOE" (The loser's howl) created turmoil since last year, and the reaction is escalating. "Single women are scary creatures." "They are proliferating at an alarming pace." " They are the terminator of our society." "We must eliminate them as soon as possible." And in UK, Bridget Jones is apparently still searching for her perfect guy.

So, what are the messages from women today across the world?
Regardless of being single or not, women need to identify what they want to be. With so many choices available, and with the life expectancy getting ever longer, it is not as simple as it used to be. Plus, the goal is ever changing. It is tough to be a girl.

"Lily festival" deals with the sexuality in the silver age. No one talked about it before, but it is there as a serious subject. Whether we like it or not, we need to face it now. In North America, people rely on the fountain of youth found in the plastic surgery. Looks need to defy the age in America. If you are no longer young, you no longer live. Why can we not enjoy ourselves as we age?

The other subject portrayed in the movie was the eternal question "Men vs. Women." Why do we always fight each other? Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus, we do not communicate well to each other. In good old days, it was much simpler. The life offered enough challenges for survival. Then, men and women did own duties. You had a busy but fulfilling life. Now, we live far longer than necessary for the survival of species. We have to ask the purpose of life three times in our life, at the teenage rebel, in the mid life crisis, and in the silver age anxiety.

So, this movie provides more questions than answers. It is what the audience expects from the good movies. Hopefully, it pushed the boundary of stereotype successfully to the audience. In this world, there is always prejudice by ignorance. People enclose themselves within the comfort of the original boundary. Seven billion people on this planet should watch good movies from different countries. Then the risk of war shall diminish significantly. Good movies do make a difference in the world. From my part, my personal quest to discover my dream kingdom brought no such thing, but the Holy Grail meant to me that the world is not a bad place to be in, and that all is about the journey itself, not to achieve a goal.

By Tomoko Okabe