Known as the "national director" among audience and film critics in Japan, Mr. Yamada Yoji arrived at Beijing Film Academy on the afternoon of December 16, 2016 and attended the film lecture by Beijing Film Academy Alumni Association.
The purpose of this trip to Beijing by Yamada was to visit the localized reshooting process ofFamily Pain(2015), a comedy by Huang Lei, a teacher with School of Performing Arts of the academy and a renowned actor. TheTroublesome Family(to be determined) directed by Mr. Huang Lei had been completed and would be shown during the May Day holiday of next year.
Yamada Yoji, who spent his childhood and adolescence in Northeast China, moved back to Japan after the Second World War and exchanged with various movie professionals. Now 86 years old, he was known as the evergreen tree in the film industry of Japan. Fit as a fiddle, the 86 years old was the only director alive among the greatest 20thcentury Japanese doctors elected byKinemaJunpo.Yamada said that that was possibly his last visit to China in the opening speech, so the importance of this lecture was self-evident.
The lecture was attended by Professor Wang Naizhen, professor of the Animation School of the academy and director HuoJianqi who was admitted to the Fine Arts School in 1978. The lecture was conducted in the form of a relaxed and approachable salon. At the scene of film story bar, many enthusiastic fans from all over the country raised questions to Yamada for in-depth exchange of various issues on the film and the creative minds of the director.
Unlike most of highly qualified Japanese directors who had a certain aesthetic distance from the general audience, Yamada Yoji had directed 85 films in his career, gave new year greetings to audience with at least one film each year and was known for his earthy civilian-oriented productions. According to the representation by Professor Wang Naizhen in his speech, the 48-episode series filmTora-san's Dream of Spring,director Yamada, through the role of Tora-san portrayed by Atsumi Kiyoshi, incisively and vividly showed the customs of Shitamachi, Tokyo and life of ordinary people.
At the beginning of the lecture, Yamada highly praised the fast growth of film professionals in China. It only took less than ten years for the Chinese film industry from the depressions in the Cultural Revolution to the rise of the fifth generation directors and then to the great Chinese works in the international arena. Yamada also mentioned that the film titledPostmen in the Mountainsdirected by HuoJianqi in 1998 left a deep impression among Japanese audience. The director said it was really a privilege to stay with Mr. HuoJianqi and Professor Wang and discuss film with students from Beijing Film Academy.
Mr. HuoJianqi also shared in the process of his lecture his life during the four years of study in Beijing Film Academy. HuoJianqi used to watch Yamada’sThe Call of the Mountain, andThe Happy Yellow Handkerchiefand said that what touched him most were a lifelike demonstration and the process of attempting to suppress the complicated and excited mood. Interestingly, the teacher of Director Huo asked his students to portrait the image of memory after viewing the film. The portrait for the movieThe Call of the Mountainwas still preserved by Director HuoJianqi.
In the process of communication, Takakura Ken who cooperated with Yamada actedThe Call of The Mountain, andHappy Yellow Handkerchief, was frequently mentioned in discussions. Director Yamada and Director Huo highly praised the professional attitude of Takakura Ken. According to Director Yamada, Takakura Ken refused to eat breakfast and lunch when he acted to stay hungry and refreshed and he would not resume normal diet until the whole film was completed. We could say that the classic cold face of Ken should be attributed to an impression of hungry eyes. Director Huo said that Ken would keep standing in the shooting process when he acted inRiding Alone for Thousands of Miles (2015),a film by Zhang Yimou even though most staff chosen to sat down out of tiredness. Huo specially mentioned the plot that Ken sat and wept in the compartment alone after he was seen off at the railway station, he also enthusiastically recommended the audience to watch the film.
Yamada Yoji’s high degree of love for film was a consistent Japanese craftsman spirit, which was fully revealed in the discussions of the whole lecture. During the Q & A interactive session, the director specifically mentioned a motto by OzuYasujiro: "I am a tofu seller, so can only do tofu." Yasujiro said sincerely: "People who sell tofu can also produce all kinds of soy products, but he absolutely cannot do other things, for me film is also a kind of happiness."
At the end of his lecture, Yamada called on all students present to watch a lot of classic movies during the school period and use the some of the game playing time to movie appreciation, he said earnestly that he could not invest a lot of time into movies after graduation. The director encouraged all participants to find funny and pleasant feelings in the process of film production, so that audiences may feel your endeavors. After the meeting, Yamada Yoji took a photo with event volunteers and all participating students and ended the happy interview.
Yamada Yoji, born in September 13, 1931 in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, graduated from Law Department of University of Tokyo, is a Japanese screenwriter and director. In 1961, Yamada directed his first filmPeople Living on the Second Floor. In 1969, he directed the romance filmTora-san's Dream of Spring.In 1976, he directed the dramaCompatriots. In 1980, he directed the love filmThe Call of the Mountains. In 1993, his action filmSchoolwon the 17th Japan Film Academy Award for best director and the best screenplay award. In 2002, Yamada directed the first ancient warrior filmTwilight Samurai. In 2006, he directedLove and Honor,the last film ofHistorical Drama Trilogy. In 2008, his family filmMotherwon the nomination for 58th Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear Award. In 2010, he directed the family filmYounger Brother, which was selected as the closing film of 60th session of the Berlin International Film Festival. In 2013, his family filmTokyo Familywon the 37th Japan Film Academy Award for best film nomination. In 2014, his love filmLittle Homewon the nomination for the 64th Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear Award. In 2015, he directed the comedyFamily Pain. In 1955, Yamada Yoji marriedYamada Katie who he met in 1955. In January 2016 January, his filmIf I Lived with Motherwon the nomination for the 39th Japan Film Academy Award for best screenplay.