Moonlight Shadow had its Japanese theatrical release on September 10 so Monday’s screening at T.I.F.F. hardly was a premiere for the film which was part of the Nippon Cinema Now selection. It was though, for actress Komatsu Nana who officially attended the famous festival for the very first time. On November 1, at 6.20 p.m. JST, the lights went off at the Toho Cinema in Hibiya, Tokyo and the audience watched Edmund Yeo’s poetic adaptation of Banana Yoshimoto‘s novella.
It’s a journey into pain, sorrow and grief yet with a touch of lightness as well as hope and recovery in the end. Having watched it four times, I won’t back down: the film is beauty, Nana Komatsu’s perf a stellar one.
Kong Pahurak, cinematographer for Moonlight Shadow, has posted many pics on his Instagram account. Whether they’re film stills or on-the-set shots they tell a different story or rather, they tell the same story but from a different perspective. Here’s a selection.
‘The sound of a bell lingers in my ear. It all started with that bell. This sound represented every single second I spent with Hitoshi. Every single day and night ! Sunny, rainy, cloudy and snowy days. The films we watched together, the books we read. The fights we had, our laughter and tears...” Before a tape recorder, a young woman spells out her grief. This touching scene is the opening sequence of the film; it will be repeated later on, complete and with an even stronger emotional load.
This young woman is Satsuki. The love of her life was killed in a car accident. With him was Yumiko, the girlfriend of Hiiragi, Hitoshi‘s younger brother, who also lost her life. Hiiragi wears Yumiko’s school uniform for mourning. For Satsuki, the process of healing is to run around breathlessly. She barely eats and is losing weight in a frightening way. She looks exhausted. One day, from the bridge where Satsuki and Hitoshi liked to meet, she sees a strange woman all dressed in black. She puts her finger to her lips as if to say ‘shhh’, an invitation to silence, to calm and to mystery.
Malaysian director Edmund Yeo‘s adaptation of Banana Yoshimoto‘s famous short story lives up to its promise. Kong Pahurak‘s photography is superb and the lights enhance the emotions. The soundtrack, composed by Aaken/Ton That An, has the same function, it delicately accompanies the film without intruding. While taking certain liberties in the construction of the narrative and in the introduction or development of secondary characters, the director conveys the very essence of the original work, its message and its tone: mourning, the inevitable passage of time, love and bitter-sweet humor. …
Naoki Obukuro wrote and performed the song Parallax, Moonlight Shadow’s director Edmund Yeo made the clip. Obukuro came under the spotlight back in 2016 when he performed a duet -Tomodachi- with J-pop super star Utada Hikaru for her come-back album Fantôme.
With this music video, viewers can get a taste of the luscious visuals and cinematography of the movie…
The following interview is the original English transcription of an exclusive interview article which I made for Blog Fascinant Japon, a French speaking media outlet. It was translated into French and published on September 5. Due thanks to director Edmund Yeo for his time and kindness…
You moved to Japan in 2008 for your Masters and Phd at Waseda University, Tokyo, what was the driving force behind that move?
Like many of my generation, I grew up with Japanese anime and manga. My familiarity with these gradually led to an interest in Japanese films, music and literature as well. And I believe my love for Japanese culture grew stronger during a couple of family trips I made in Japan as a child.
Once I finished my studies in Australia. I wanted to pursue my childhood dreams of filmmaking. Japanese Cinema had received international attention and acclaim for a really long time. I was curious to learn more, so I decided to go.
Several short films you made are based on Japanese short stories and more often than not the action takes place in both Malaysia and Japan, are you building cultural bridges?
Because of the personal nature of my films, where I reach from my own experiences and emotions to interpret these Japanese short stories for the screen, I try using settings that I’m familiar with, hence Malaysia, a place where I grew up in, and Japan, where I spent most of my twenties in.
And I always do believe that cinema is a bridge to a different culture, since I have learnt a lot about the world and the different cultures through cinema, perhaps in a way, that is why I myself was trying to find a connection between these two countries which played such big roles in my life.