Film: Control Tower (Kanseitou / 管制塔)
Director: Takahiro Miki
Venue: Mini Mini Manor
Running time: 68 minutes
Official Selection at Raindance
This is not quite a review but half-based on a preview. Confused? Don’t be… All will become clear.
Combining my passion for films, music and Asian culture I felt compelled to review a few such items all in one article.
Having spent time recently attending Raindance’s “Saturday Film School”, a re-ignition of my passion for film-making occurred. At this point I must mention Raindance’s constantly stated semi-slogan “We Don’t Teach Filmmaking, We Make Filmmakers”. Indeed, this is Raindance’s philosophy. You may read it how like you and of course, there are various interpretations.
The way I like to read Raindance’s statement is thus… There is no hard, fast or true rule to follow when putting something to film. No. It’s film – Images, language, sounds, science. All these and more. The aspect from those I mention which sticks out the most, or resounds (no pun, honestly) is ‘sound’. Now, I don’t mean the sound which is often commented on or applauded, perhaps due to it’s clarity or quality, but more in the way of MUSIC.
Many of my ideas, especially the older ones have been sparked due to a particular tune I’ve heard. Often, this is all it’s taken for an idea to hit me or unfold.
How does this relate to “Control Tower”?
It relates to this in many ways.
There is the fact that it’s one of the films playing at this year’s Raindance festival – yes the Raindance people make filmmakers and hold a festival to demonstrate and display new independent films. The festival is the largest of its kind in the UK. Think Sundance, but without the Sun.
Perhaps more aptly, what I write about above is more relating to “Control Tower” in the form of the film itself being inspired by a certain song by a well-known Japanese outfit, called Galileo Galilei. Control Tower [Japanese title, “Kanseitou”] was the band’s first ever penned song and not only that, it has pulled in over one million download sales in Japan. If this wasn’t enough for Galileo Galilei their debut album (“Parade”) ranked in the Top 5!
Takahiro Miki is also a well known artist in Japan. He’s a music video director. Takahiro caught the band playing live at an indie festival and fell in love with the song right there and then, & then set off to make a film around it. [In the meantime, the band won an indie competition and went on to sign to a major label]
Now, I wasn’t comparing myself to Takahiro Miki when I said that I drew inspiration from songs for my film ideas. However, I’ve tried to see where he got his inspiration from. This not being an easy task – I don’t understand Japanese, for one. This said, I did manage to obtain the English translation to “Kanseitou (Control Tower)” and these invoked enough to get a fair idea of perhaps the film’s overall feel. Combining this with the trailer and a still or two maybe helped, although I do plan to have a full review up at some point.
Surrounding the theme of adolescence & growing up and with lyrics such as these it should stir emotions in many of us:
“We drew the future we saw together, on top of a high hill where a blue wind blows
We launched a big paper airplane which flew anywhere, carried by the wind
You laughed loudly as you saw my distant look
Your hat was blown off by a gust of wind, so I ran to catch it
We were always shivering a little because we were unsure that the future we desired would come
If only we could continue to speak forever about that paper airplane of hope that we launched
Control tower, the future we set to flight
I know you can see it, it’s beautiful isn’t it, I want to continue believing in it
Control tower, the future we believed in
Will come someday, that’s what I’m waiting for”
In the recent press release, one of the band members states how the song is about those feelings they had as teenagers, battling against an overwhelming sense of hopelessness as time inevitably ticks on. It resonating with many Japanese individuals and not just the band members – and film director, Takahiro Miki – is perhaps the reason why the film was the centre of attention before its theatrical release, drawing more than 10,000 applicants for its invitation-only premier.
The film tells how two alienated, directionless youths find their place in life through music. It uses Galilieo Galilei’s quaint hometown of Wakkanai in northern Japan as its setting. The two youths are a 15 year old boy, Kakeru and a female transfer student, Mii. A nice touch in the film [from what I’ve seen and read] comes when it’s made clear that one of these 2 central characters is nick-named after slightly resembling a character from The Moomins. Maybe not so nice for the character, but a cool touch in the film itself. As suspected, these two are lonely teens who cannot find their place in life, but who gradually learn to relate to each other through the power of music.
If the story wasn’t enough (baring in mind that I’ve avoided any known spoilers, as always) fans of Japanese films will be happy to hear that it features upcoming teenage talent Kento Yamazaki and Ai Hashimoto – Ai starring in Japan’s entry to 2010’s Academy Awards, “Confessions (Kokuhaku / 告白)”… Mini Mini’s review can be found here: “CONFESSIONS”
I guess it’s no surprise that I’m a fan of Raindance, especially as it specialises in independent films and almost lesser-known, but quality foreign pictures. Of course, that’s the reason and – as stated before – my passion as an aspiring movie maker playing just as big a part. So, why “Japan Underground”? Aside from Japan Underground promoting Japanese music in the UK [if you didn’t already know]…?
Well, Japan Underground have also been of brilliant support for the recently hit Independent Film & Music Distributors… following those dreadful riots. Details of this and the affected Distributors, are at the foot of this article.
One example of Japan Underground’s assistance and dedication to the latter was displayed at the recent Asian Film All-Dayer, at the Bloomsbury Lanes. You see, Japan Underground had already arranged a night of Japanese music. I mean, this is one of the ‘things they do’. But… the evening of music became preceded by a day of films [one of which can be found here: “Red Light Revolution”] thanks to Japan Underground’s support and collaboration with affected distributors, namely Third Window Films and Terracotta Distribution.
And… I have to say [and didn’t doubt it] that it was a fantastic event. I, personally was with great company, which helps. However, I will be attending the next music extravaganza – on Saturday October 15th – and if you decide to also let me know, I’d love to hear your views too!
If you’ve got stamina enough for the Sunday there is a special premier of Third Window’s “Underwater Love – A Pink Musical”, complete with a full set-list from the band, Stereo Total AND introduction of the film by the film’s producer. Then…? After Party…?! Yes. Phew!
That is it from Mini Mini, aside from saying that music is life. Life is music. Incidentally, this couldn’t be reflected more than in “Fish Story” [the other film in that recent all-dayer, and another of Third Window’s] and now in “Control Tower”.
“Plug & Play & Pause… then Parade it…”
Music lovers take note. Galileo Galilei’s critically acclaimed debut album, “Parade” is available now in the UK from major digital outlets. Plus, it ‘does’ include ‘Kanseitou’ [which I have… and it’s pretty sublime], their breakthrough debut single ‘Hanamasu no Hana’ and nine other tracks that demonstrate why these Hokkaido boys are setting the standard for Japan’s teenage rock movement.
“Parade” is available from iTunes and Amazon:
Thanks to japan underground for
And… Not forgetting…:
Mini Mini Movie (i.e. Trailer)
Find this Trailer and other Mini-er Movies here at:
“Mini Mini Tower”:
Film Footnote – “Virally Vended”
Further details of Third Window Films and Terracotta Distribution are below. However, before you rush to clickety-click-away I’d like to use this space to mention the recent mindless riots experienced here in the UK. Did you know that these riots caused hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages and loss to our favourite independent film distributors? These are, essentially… Arrow Films, Artifical Eye, The BFI, Crabtree Films, Cine-Asia, Dogwoof Films, Exposure Cinema, Eureka, Kaleidoscope Films, Left Films, Masters of Cinema, Metrodome Films, New Wave Films, Peccadillo Pictures, Revolver Entertainment, Showbox Home Entertainment, Terracotta, Third Window Films and Warp Films.
So, with the latter in mind it is even more important to spread the word virally about these unfortunate vendors. On that note I leave you with these links… all which will, in some way assist in keeping such films to be distributed here in the so-called land of milk & honey.
Also, perhaps of interest…
Thanks for your support… in every way.