Our friends at Scotland Loves Anime have posted a piece on Giovanni’s Island and as their key sponsor, they have allowed us to re-print their coverage here & on the Giovanni’s Island site including a mini-interview with Mr Nishikubo – who will be attending both the BFI London Film Festival for the UK premiere and Scotland Loves Anime for the Scottish premiere. Enjoy and you can check out other screenings on the main site too (London runs at the same time and there’s more to go)!
Where can I buy tickets?
If you like what you see – you can buy tickets for each weekend below. Keep in mind the director, Mr. Nishikubo himself is coming to the Glasgow and London screenings:
A few handy details about the film’s international trail to date:
– It won Jury Distinction at Annecy Film Festival 2014
– It won the Satoshi Kon award for anime at Fantasia Film Festival 2014
– It won the Audience award for anime at Fantasia Film Festival 2014
– It played in many festivals including Moscow (which is pretty important for the film).
– It’s playing in BFI London Film Festival 2014 at the same time as us.
Don’t take our raving about the film before though – here’s some snippets of the critical reviews to date:
“It’s a brave choice that works much as “The Book Thief” or “The Diary of Anne Frank” have done, offering young viewers a window of understanding into incomprehensible events.” – Variety
“Little Junpei and Kanta and the rest of the cast of well-drawn characters offer rare insight into a fascinating and little-documented period of the war, in this affecting and deeply moving film.” – Twitch Film
“Giovanni’s Island is a heartbreaking tale of what happens to normal people after a war is over. It explores friendship, diversity, and the innocence of children, and still never makes anyone “evil” despite the nature of the setting. And while I didn’t really get into it in the review proper, the hand-drawn animation is downright beautiful. If you are a fan of films like Barefoot Gen orGrave of the Fireflies—or historical drama—you should definitely give Giovanni’s Island a watch.” – Kotaku
A very brief interview:
How did you get involved into this project?
Nishikubo: Personally, I’ve always been very interested in the historical period from the 30s onward, when Japan relentlessly throws itself into that conflict one step after another. I confess I had always wanted to confront myself with a story set in that period. Then this project suddenly came across my desk. But it was about a part of that war that I did not really know. And even most Japanese don’t. It was not set on the Asian continent or in the Pacific, but on a remote island up in the north, told through the fate of a family and two brothers in particular, Junpei and Kanta. To me, this project started as an opportunity to depict a forgotten episode in our history as seen through the eyes of two children. At the same time, I felt it had a very universal theme despite its very specific geographical and historical coordinates.
What was your number one concern creatively when it came to adapting this material?
Nishikubo: In this movie we see historical events unfolding as seen through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy. All we know is what Junpei sees and experiences. Therefore I adopted a more realistic animation style for present-day sequences, while Junpei’s memories are drawn in a much simpler style against Santiago’s backdrops. But then I thought that I wanted to add a fantastic element to the story, to be rendered with another different style, and this came from Kenji Miyazawa’s novel, Night on the Galactic Railroad. Original author Shigemichi Sugita had already indicated the novel as a recurring motif in the movie, but I decided to expand it. The novel and its world are a sort of psychological driving force for the two brothers, it’s what sustains them in face of hardship and provides a little escape from the chaos around them, but it is also the key to interpret what’s happening. The movie’s story is obviously linked to one of the novel’s themes, epitomized by the line “What is true happiness for all?” But the novel allowed me to enrich the movie visually, by interrupting an otherwise very realistic context with sudden, colourful sparks.
What would you like audiences to take away from this movie?
Nishikubo: I tried to depict the historical backdrop to this story as much accurately as possible, avoiding any biased interpretation of those events. You won’t find good or bad guys. There’s no specific message or political agenda in exposing facts. I could even say that the geographical location is purely accidental. I only wanted to allow the viewer to experience, through Junpei’s eyes, how it feels to be caught in historical events that are bigger than you and on which you absolutely have no control.
ABOUT MR. NISHIKUBO:
Mizuho Nishikubo Born in 1953. A longtime and most trusted collaborator of Mamoru Oshii, Nishikubo has worked as animation director under his real name of Toshihiko Nishikubo in most Oshii’s animated films, including Ghost in the Shell (1995), Palme d’Or-nominee Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004) and Golden Lion-nominee The Sky Crawlers (2008). It is said that Oshii’s movies wouldn’t look the same without his contribution. His credits as director include, Video Girl Ai (1992, OVA), Otogi Zoshi (2004, TV series) and Atagoal: Cat’s Magical Forest (2006, movie). He also directed the music clip Tsepi i kol’tsa / Chains & Rings (2003) for Russian rock star Linda, and the internationally praised NEXT A-Class commercial film for Mercedes-Benz (600,000 views on YouTube in 3 days). His latest feature film, Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai (2009), written by Mamoru Oshii, screened in Locarno, Sitges, Warsaw, Stockholm and Vladivostok. [/subsection]