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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Still alive

Haven't posted here for a while, have I?

The past several days have been taken up with getting some Anime North stuff finished up (Program Book, set-up with the hotels, big meeting with the staff, etc.) that is all going quite well all told. After this weekend I think things will calm down a little till mid-May, and then the final push.

I keep telling myself it's still 1/12th of an entire year until the con, it seems less imminent that way.

Managed to see two Hot Docs this week, first was the astonishing Wings of Defeat, about surviving Kamikaze pilots. The filmakers is American, but with Japanese parents, and when she found out a few years back that her fun uncle from childhood (he died about 20 years ago) had been a Kamikaze pilot, she decided to try and find out how he could have been one. She she travelled to Japan to interview what few survivors still remain. It was a tremendously moving piece about war and humanity, and she said in the Q&A that she was constantly told during her work that no one from Japan could have made the film (too much social pressure not to question war myths) but if she hadn't been Japanese the pilots wouldn't have opened up to her.

There's a lot of newsreel footage in the film, but one sequence where two of the pilots (actually, a pilot and a gunner in in two-man bomber) were describing what was to have been their Kamikaze mission was animated very simply with painted cels, but it worked incredibly well to help illustrated the story without taking away from the key element, the voices of the men describing it. In the Q&A she said that they had experimented briefly with CGI, but found they couldn't afford it. This was definitely a case where less was more.

The other one I saw this week was Losers and Winners which followed the activity at a German coking plant after it was sold to the Chinese (in a sudden move no one at the plant was expecting), who then came to dismantle the entire place to re-assemble it in China. Clash of cultures with the Germans losing all their jobs.

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Kamikaze and a puppy - there's a guy in the back row who looks unnervingly like Jason - probably the only Japanese person I've ever seen who looks like Jason.

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