2020 Victoria Film Festival is well underway. I look forward to great Japanese films every year. Few of them are on my radar but here is one I particularly recommend, and it’s on this Sunday, February 16 as part of VFF’s Jammies and Toons program.
From the Nile to the afterworld, discover ancient Egyptian lives!
The new exhibition opens May 18th
Royal BC Museum’s new exhibition, Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs opens this Friday, May 18th. The pyramids, pharaohs, mummies and hieroglyphs… since its rediscovery, we’ve been captivated by the world of ancient Egypt.
This latest exhibition immerses us in walking like and the lives of Egyptians. (So to speak). The exhibition floor is roughly divided into 7 distinct sections: The Nile, The Gods, The Pharaohs, The Temple, The Words, The Look, and The Afterlife.
You start the exhibition with the great Egyptian life line, the Nile River, and how people lived and worked around it. You will also learn about the Egyptian Gods and the Temples they worshiped in. Then you will meet some of the most impressive of Pharaohs.
Additionally, visitors to the exhibition will also have the opportunity to learn Egyptian culture. What kind of jobs did they have? What was in fashion? The writing! Finally, the exhibition concludes with death. Learn what the ancient Egyptian believed about the afterlife and witness some truly captivating artifacts from their coffins to Egyptian mummies!
This is not the first time RBCM had an Egyptian exhibit. Back in 2004, the museum had an exhibition called Eternal Egypt. I remember the exhibition well but it showed a mere 150 artifacts. The new exhibit, Egypt: The Time of the Pharaoh, boasts more than 300 original artifacts. Some are up to 4,500 years old and borrowed from European museums such as the Egyptian Museum of Berlin, Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum Hildesheim, as well as University Museum of Aberdeen. This is the North American debut of this exhibition.
Displays, models, and ancient artifacts make Egypt come alive
At the time of the preview I attended, not everything to be included in the exhibition had yet been made ready for the opening. However, based on what was ready for the exhibition preview, I was intrigued by beautiful displays, intricate models, and of course, the original Egyptian artifacts. (My favourite was the model of a temple where they worshiped the Gods! How cool is that!?) Their “temple” was as large as a city block, with its own bakery inside! An absolutely fascinating journey into the lives of the ancient Egyptians.
There’s something for everyone—even the kids!
For families, there will be a lot of interactive displays where you can touch and play with.
For grown ups, there is an original beer created by Swans Brewery called Pharaoh’s Reserve available later this month, as well as Adults Sleepover on September 1st planned, as part of their popular Night at the Museum series.
Conclusion? An enthusiastic thumbs up!
It is a truly immersive experience and I highly recommend you go see it. The Egypt: The Time of the Pharaohs continues until December 31, 2018. Visit the Royal BC Museum website for details.
Victoria Film Festival brings great selection of independent and foreign films to Victoria every year. I don’t have TV Japan at home, so this is a rare chance for me to enjoy Japanese films on the big screen. Starting one at the Vic Theatre this weekend, there are several great Japanese films available thanks to VFF – here are the details.
Miss Hokusai (Sarusuberi）
A different perspective on the life and creative legacy of the brilliant artist Katsushika Hokusai, as told through the eyes of his daughter. Nominated for a 2017 Annie Award.
They all require VFF membership if you don’t have it already.
After the Storm (Umi Yori Mo Mada Fukaku）
Ryota Shinoda was once a successful and well-regarded writer. These days he’s a lot more like his shiftless father before him – Weekdays, he works as a sketchy detective and on weekends he tries to pawn his mother’s belongings when she’s not looking. She’s widowed though and doesn’t have much to lose anyway so she happily tolerates him.
Ryota is trying to mend bridges with his estranged wife so he can spend more time with his son. And he’s also trying to mend bridges with his sister, since he may have had a hand in her failed marriage. Unfortunately, neither of these women has much patience for him any more.
Then, on the evening a typhoon is due to make landfall, Ryota’s old family finds itself forced together for one more night in his mother’s tiny apartment. What follows is not what anyone expected, but it may be just what they need to move on.
Modern master Kore-eda (Our Little Sister, Like Father Like Son) returns to VFF once again with yet another great film. His insightful eye on the modern family shares the caring and sensitivity of his spiritual predecessor Yasujirô Ozu (Tokyo Story). Free of melodrama yet always marked by tenderness, Kore-eda never tries to fix the inevitable. Instead, he shows us the best moments within it.
Koreeda is my favourite director. I have enjoyed his “Like Father, Like Son” as well as “Our Little Sister” This film’s protagonist, Hiroshi Abe used to be a trendy fashion model but he is also a good actor. And I always enjoy seeing Kirin Kiki and Lily Frankie, both great actors and regulars on Korea films. Really looking forward to this.
• Release Year: 2016
• Runtime: 117 minutes
• Directed By: Hirokazu Kore-eda
• Genre: Drama
February 10, 2017 (Fri) 2017 9:00pm The Vic Theatre
Long ago in Edo-era Japan, there was a temple called Enmei-ji. At this temple was very peculiar monk named Ninko. Ninko wanted most monks anywhere in the world wanted of his want of their religious studies – to live a pure and virtuous life and be an example to others. However, Ninko suffered. A lot.
It was all because he was fantastically irresistible to any woman he met. He could not go out to beg with the other monks since women would crowd around and throw themselves at him. He could not meet outsiders who came to the temple for fear of the same. In fact, he was in fact so irresistible that he even turned the heads of some men he shared the temple with. Every man’s fantasy was Ninko’s greatest burden. And so, he set out on a journey to “purify himself”. His road was to be more bizarre and unusual than he could have imagined.
This is a film with an abundance of on-screen tease. However, it’s far from sleaze. Director Niwatsukino Norhiro has gone to great lengths to incorporate many different artistic approaches to this cautionary tale. The director’s skill in some wonderfully illustrated animated sequences, pops this beyond indie budget expectations and yet neatly ties it all together too.
Despite the fact the director is virtually unknown, this film apparently was sold out at Vancouver Film Festival and had additional screenings. Trailer looks great for an independent film. I am looking forward to this.
In 16th century Japan, the village of Tatara in Izumo prefecture had already long been revered for its incredible steel. Gosuke is a young man born to be the next Murage or Master Blacksmith for this legendary town. However, this was the end of Japan’s Sengoku civil war period and a man named Oda Nobunaga was about to change the map of Japan forever.
When raiders run ruin in Tatara, Gosuke heads out to find the path of the Samurai for himself. Horrified by the experience of war in Nobunaga’s army, he returns home only to find that war has followed him home. This time, it is with a heavy demand for guns to end a tyranny of swords. Through trial and loss, Gosuke may soon learn that the true qualities of a samurai come with what they make, not just what they do.
Tatara Samurai is a movie steeped in history. This may be a fictionalized but it pays tribute to a legacy of craftsmanship and some of the most amazing steel man has ever forged. It also plays well to the best aspects of the Kurosawa samurai films, deftly combining sword-slicing action, drama and humanity for a thoroughly entertaining experience.
This film is starts very popular Japanese group EXILE’s actors. It also starts some great veteran actors. Also this is being released before Japan, which is interesting.
And finally, this is not a Japanese film per se, but a documentary by Japanese Canadian filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns.
Canada is an incredibly diverse country. Multiculturalism is our watch-word and our ethnic backgrounds aren’t supposed to limit us. But sometimes they do. With the multiracial community becoming one of the fastest growing demographics in North America, being mixed race is no longer just about an identity, it can be a matter of life and death.
For any patients with blood cancer, finding a bone marrow donor match can be the key.But for mixed-race sufferers the search is even more incredibly hard and disheartening. Not only are ethnicities such as Asian or African under-represented in the available databases, mixed-race profiles are even rarer, making matches even rarer still.
There ARE happy endings. That’s because there are people making a difference by registering an increasing number of these elusive potential donors. Mixed Match is Jeff Chiba-Stearns’ own experience with some of those stories.
Mixed Match is Jeff’s follow-up to One Big Happa Family, where he looked at the cultural side of his own mixed-match family. Taking this look at the corresponding biological side, he finds once again that sharing what makes one unique can make a better world.
I’ve seen One Big Hapa Family few years ago at Victoria Film Festival and loved it. Loved it so much I bought the DVD. As a mother of “mixed-race” children, this topic is definitely close to heart. I am looking forward to seeing this.
Royal BC Museum is opening its latest exhibition, Mammoths: Giants of the Ice Age this Friday, June 3rd. I got to have a sneak peak of the latest from RBCM.
Everyone in Victoria is familiar with the Woolly Mammoth, Woolly at RBCM. It’s sort of like their mascot in a way. Now, Mammoths exhibit will give us the opportunity to tarvel back in time to the ice age and learn about this amazing creature.
At the first section of the exhibit, we will learn about mammoths and mastodon origins and evolutionary adaptations. Elephants, mammoths and mastodons are close relatives (I didn’t know that!) and we can see the family tree of proboscidean. There are a lot of hands-on interactive displays that are great for children (and adults of course!)
The Baby Lyuba
The highlight of the exhibition is the famous baby mammoth, Lyuba (Lee-OO-bah), the remarkably well preserved, 40,000 year-old-baby mammoth. It was found in 2007 by a Siberian reindeer herder. This is the first time Lyuba is in Canada, and it is amazing how close you can get to a 40,000 year-old mammoth. As it’s stated it is incredibly well preserved thanks to a special condition the baby girl encountered when she died (you can read all about it in the display). Technology is an amazing thing… I was in awe. Lyuba is pretty darn adorable too. Lyuba is on loan from the Shemanovskiy Yamal-Nenets District Museum and Exhibition Complex in northern Siberia, Russia.
Next section has amazing displays of full-scale replica of a Columbian mammoth, Saber-tooth cat and a short-faced bear (all of them now extinct). You are sure to be awestruck by the scale of these amazing creatures.
Mammoths: Giants of Ice Age is presented in partnership with Chicago’s Field Museum. There is also a companion IMAX film, Mammoths: Titans of the Ice Age also opening on June 3. And for the kids who love mammoths (ages 5-6 and 7-11), there are several summer camp dates available. See the RBCM website for details.
Mammoths: Giants of the Ice Age runs until December 31, 2016.
Victoria Film Festival is coming back for the 22nd time on Feb 5. For 10 days, you can enjoy over 150 films from around the world.
I look forward to VFF because it’s often a rare chance for someone like me to enjoy Japanese films in the big screen. Back in 2011, I enjoyed The Chef of the South Polar at their Opening Gala.(This year, their Opening Gala film is My Internship in Canada) Last year, I LOVED Like Father, Like Son, which I recently re-watched at home as it’s available on Netflix now.Such a beautiful, poignant film.
This year there are three Japanese films available at VFF. The bad news is, they ALL show on the same date- February 13th! (One film has two screening times/locations, so you can, at least see two films. )
Our Little Sister/Umimachi Diary
Saturday, February 13, 2016 6:30 pm Odeon Theatre #2
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
2014 • 128 Minutes
From the director of last year’s VFF hit Like Father Like Son comes this more lighthearted take on the modern family. This time, it’s the girls who rule the screen. For 15 years, the three Koda sisters have cared for each other in the drafty old home of their departed grandmother. At their father’s funeral, they meet their half-sister Suzu. As they wholeheartedly welcome her in, the shy and awkward teenager brings a wind of change in the lives of her new-found siblings. Kore-eda’s unflagging commitment to examining the intri- cacies of family is delightfully done; this master filmmaker has created an intelligent, quiet work.
Koreeda is a master at showing beauty from simple, subtle things. It has the same actors from Like Father, Like Son, such as Kirin Kiki, Jun Fubuki, and Lily Franky (they are great actors). The trailer looks beautiful and I am looking forward to seeing this one.
Lost and Found
Thursday, February 10, 2016 7:00 pm Starlight Cinema, Sidney Saturday, February 13, 2016 6:00 pm The Vic Theatre
Director: John Choi, Nicolina Lanni
2014 • 82 minutes
Japan’s record-breaking 2011 earthquake and tsunami hit over 90 cities and took over 18,000 lives on Japan’s northeast coast. It also displaced over a million tons of debris but that hardly seemed to matter at the time. Within a year, that debris began showing up in the Pacific Northwest. However this time, beachcombers knew where these floating foreign oddities came from and what had been lost. This is the story of the folks in Canada and the US who’ve made it their mission to reunite these items with their original owners and reflect on not only what was lost but what can be regained.
This film will be presented by Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives. There are two showtimes at two separate theatres – one downtown, one in Sidney. I hope to catch the Sidney one.
Empire of Corpses
Saturday, February 13, 2016 7:00pm Parkside Resort & Spa
Director: Ryotaro Makihara
2015 • 120 Minutes
From WIT Studio behind the mega-hit anime series Attack on Titan and the pen of one of Japan’s modern masters of sci-fi comes an unusual mix of steampunk and Mary Shelley. In an alternate 19th Century Europe, Victor Frankenstein wasn’t just a story, he was a pioneer; in this world, the dead walk among us as necrotic servants, warriors and weapons. The government has just recruited John Watson – a maker of “Frankensteins” – for a very special mission. Not only will new enemies and friends beset him on all sides, but also the lost soul of his very own personal Frankenstein.
Based on a critically acclaimed Sci-Fi novel by Keikaku Ito and Toh EnJoe. Looks really fun.
You can see the complete list of auction items on Intrepid Website. Popular items are;
Shake It Up All Night with Simon Ogden of Veneto Tapa Lounge – Classic cocktail class for 4 with Simon, and one night’s stay at Superior King Room at Hotel Rialto. ($550 Value)
Galiano Island Getaway – Two night stay at Galiano Island Oceanfront Inn and Spa ($500 Value)
Snowcase and Snowcaps – Enjoy the – sold out – and greatly coveted Phillips beer winter countdown case AND 2 adult alpine lift tickets to Vancouver Island’s Mount Washington Ski Resort ($250 Value)
Greatly coveted Phillips Snowcase
Rifflandia Superpass– Victoria’s ultimate music festival. From our friends at Atomique Productions, two Super Passes to the Rifflandia Festival, September 15-18, 2016 Super Pass = Four days, Royal Athletic Park & night stages. ($330 Value)
We also have lovely items from our friends and local vendors;
KODO – The Way of Fragrance – Discover the ritual with 3 9ml KODO fragrances. Each fragrance is made with organic essential oils, hand-blended to create unique, luxurious eau de parfum. ($87 Value)
Japanese Cultural Fair by Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society(VNCS) is back again this year to Esquimalt Rec Center. It’s their 16th year!
It’s a free event for the whole family. Enjoy various performances such as Marshall Arts like Karate and Aiido, Taiko drums by Uminari Taiko and Koto by Satomi Edwars. New this year is Anime presentation by Tsukino-Con. Learn about Bonsai, beautiful Ikebana(flower arrangement), and Tea Ceremony. Lectures on various topics are also available for Kimono, Tea (Daniela Cubelic of Silk Road), and Organic Farming (Uminami Farm). There will be kids activities including Kamishibai (Paper board storytelling), crafts and games. There will be great shopping opportunities for Japanese items at Things Japanese table, as well as Silent Auction and door prizes. Savour the wonderful tastes of Japan such as sushi, bento boxes and manju (sweet dessert). (Food almost always sell out, so get there early.)
I’ll be most likely be there all day as I’m on the board of VNCS – when you see me, come say hi 🙂
National Association of Japanese Canadians(NAJC) is holding its AGM in Victoria this year on September 25-27. AGM portion will be done by Saturday morning, and Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning conference and also keynote speech on Saturday evening (with or without banquet) are open to the general public. Conference panels are free to attend, however, you need to register as an observer. Register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration deadline is September 22, 2015.
Conference agenda is as follows;
Saturday, September 26: Conference Day 1
Chateau Victoria Hotel
Panel: Landscapes of Injustice (LOI) (45 minutes)
Jordan Stranger-Ross, Project Director and Sherri Kajiwara, Director-Curator, Nikkei National Museum
On Day 8, we went to see The Best Meal You Ever Ate and Bear Dreams.
The Best Meal You Ever Ate
Written by Bruce L. Bloom/Dramatic Comedy/PG14+/Site B: Congregation Emanu-El(1461 Blanshard)
Site B is Victoria Fringe’s latest venue, yet this is the oldest synagogue in Canada and Western North America(!)
My husband is Jewish, so we have done the tour or this beautiful synagogue before, but last night we were pleasantly surprised how they have transformed the part of it as black box theatre. My husband call them affectionately “my people”; “As you know, my people loves show business” 🙂
Avram and Netti are the last two Jews left alive in the ghetto fighting the Nazis, when an unexpected visitor arrives with a sublime multi-course meal…but is it kosher?
The scene is set in the ghetto and the space had a very intimate feeling. We sat right in the front row and the actors were only few feet away. At the beginning, they showed several photos from the war time and my husband said he couldn’t help but to get all emotional every time he sees/hears about the time.
We were pleasantly surprised with the show. Avral and Netti are starving. They see a man in white walking towards them. It was Jean-Paul, a very talented chef, with amazing meal in a basket. Are they dreaming? Why is he doing this to them??
Interesting thing about this play is that they actually do have real food on the table and actors eat them. They looked delicious!
All the actors were very good, particularly Jean-Paul. It’s a short play with just one act, but it’s a story of hope and we left feeling happy. They have one more show left on Sunday, September 6 – 2:00pm.
I’m looking forward to seeing more shows at this venue in the future.
For Body and Light Presents: Bear Dreams
Written and created by Ian Ferrier and Stéphanie Morin-Robert/Dance/Venue 3: Metro Studio(1411 Quadra)
I had the privilege of meeting the director and choreographer Stéphanie Morin-Robert when she was in town to perform Me, Myself and Eye at Uno fest. This time, she is back with inter-generational collaboration with poet and spoken word artist Ian Ferrier.
We had a nice surprise at the beginning of the performance. Ian said everywhere they go, they try to connect with the literary community, and last night it was a poet and Victoria city councillor Jeremy Loveday who read couple of his poems. This was a nice touch.
Then Ian started narrating his story of Bear Dreams while playing his guitar. It’s a story of a young couple who go searching, first for each other, and then the heart of winter. The show starts with the couple lying on the pillows on the floor in the dark. Then, Stéphanie walks in with this really cool pendant light. After this, the light and the dance will mesmerize you. The theatre is mostly pitch black, except for the pendant light for a while. It is fascinating.
I’m not a dancer but love watching dances. So is my husband. Frankly, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this show -but honestly, I have never seen anything like this.
The young lovers’ dance is breathtaking. Ian continues his narration of the story. He read very calmly and the guitar is mostly played low…it is quite meditative. I have to be honest here, I wasn’t really listening to the story…because I was so fascinated watching the dancers.
Then the giant white parachute appears on stage. Dancer Danika Cormier’s moves with this parachute captivated me. Soon this becomes a giant ice field…it was so imaginative and beautiful.
Two dancers continue to dance outside and inside the parachute (when they are inside, all we can see is their movement and shadows, but that is still mesmerizing).
Eventually, Stephanie would walk into the audience and without saying anything, bring several volunteers onto the stage. I got to be one of them! We were handed the parachute (like we did in kindergarten), then asked to go inside the giant air bubble. Inside, we strangers all smiled quietly. Dancers continued to dance. We were given small lights to shine onto the parachute while dancers danced…it was almost magical. Like I said, I have never seen/done anything like it.
It was beautiful, graceful and touching. Do not miss this show if you want to be inspired. Highly recommended.
See the bottom of the post for links to other show notes.
The Old Woman
Written and performed by John Grady/Storytelling/Venue 7: Fairfield Hall (1303 Fairfield)
This was a true word-of-mouth pick. This show was totally under my radar but I’ve heard from several people from Sam Mullins to Megan, our amazing volunteer coordinator, that we must go see John Grady, and boy, am I glad I went. I’ve obviously been living under the rock. He’s starred in off Broadway show, The Moth, been in the Blue Man Group, and numerous TV shows.
This was the hands down the best show I’ve seen this year so far. He’s just…in a whole different level.
It’s John’s turn to take care of his mom at assisted living facility. He is out of work except for dog walking gig. The story starts at a part where he is walking the dogs in a park in LA. My very first impression was, “Oh, he talks fast.” But don’t worry, it’s part of the show. He knows what he’s doing.
It’s a mix of real stories, musings, internal thoughts and a fairy tale. His writing is phenomenal, it’s almost tangible. It made me want to put my hands out and hug them. (“Meow meow, Gracie.”) His move is impeccable and breathtaking. It’s a little sad and you might even call it dark…but there is plenty of funny parts and most importantly, heartbreakingly, stunningly beautiful. He is a master and a pro. Well worth more than $11. I couldn’t believe it. I’m so grateful to have seen this show. If you don’t go see it, you are missing out.