December 28th, 2009
A remarkable opportunity was recently extended to us when we received an invitation to attend the screening of a very noteworthy Independent Short Film, as you may discover in this excerpt from the press release:
“After winning Best of Fest at LA Shorts Fest ’09, the 28-min. American short movie ‘The 8th Samurai’ directed by Justin Ambrosino, became eligible for an Academy Awards nomination in the Live Action Short Movie category. Academy members will soon be able to cast their votes from which a short list will be issued for the nominations.”
As you probably may have guessed, this film was an homage to the director of the film Shichinin no Samurai (Seven Samurai), Akira Kurosawa, and the screening was hosted by the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, who generously supported the film. The screening was followed by a reception and a Q&A session with the filmmaker.
Francis De La Torre was in attendance. Here’s what he had to say about the film and the event:
“When life gives you lemons, make lemon flavored saké,” a statement that describes Justin Ambrosino’s tragicomedy, “The 8th Samurai.”
The film is an empathetic tale that unravels the emotional impact experienced by “Nanshu,” (Eijiro Ozaki) when he is fired from his first big acting role in an upcoming movie, the first day of shooting. The director (Toshi Toda), having experienced a spiritual awakening, realizes that the movie cannot contain 8 samurais, as originally thought, but rather only seven. As the story progresses, Nanshu goes through several stages of grieving, ultimately coming to acceptance of his fate, and becoming a stronger person from the process.
Although Nanshu was not the most dexterous of individuals, I found myself walking in his shoes from opening scene. An insecure, overly zealous young man, trying to fulfill his dreams as well as the expectation of others, something we all have experienced. As he developed, I caught myself chuckling at him as he tried to cope with a rapid decomposing of his “big break,” saying to myself, “I know what you are going through.” At that point, I realized that filmmaker Justin Ambrosino had me.
Ambrosino, a recent graduate from The American Film Institute, did a remarkable job bringing to life the insecurities that accompany success and the pursuit thereof–from over-preparation and eagerness to please to the quiet voice in the back of our heads which constantly tell us we are not adequate for the tasks that lay before us. Success is a never-ending circle of constant inner-struggle. It is only when we come to a place of self-acceptance that we can experience self-admiration and obtain the confidence needed to reach our fullest potential. Ambrosino communicated this flawlessly.
I found the film profoundly encouraging. What gave the film even more depth was the vulnerability that Ambrosino displayed during his open Q&A following the screening. Having his first thesis film denied approval for production by the The American Film Institute, Ambrosino was left in a frustrated condition to devise a plan B. Having to experience first hand much of what his lead character encountered, (including saké), Ambrosino developed and told a story of a tragedy, that ultimately resulted in self growth and acceptance.
The sobering story was delivered with class as well. Ambrosino’s aesthetic for the film is reminiscent of traditional Samurai movies, shot in black and white with humorously nostalgic editorial transitions. An all Japanese cast deliver the dialogue in their own language, providing us a timeless sentiment to this timeless story. The film was very enjoyable, and I highly recommend it to anybody that has experienced discouragement but possessed the fortitude to press on.
Oh, by the way, I do feel I have to apologize, I’ve been having hosting troubles lately, and will probably have to switch soon (any tips?) but if you tried to access this site and couldn’t, first of all, I’m sorry, and second, thanks for coming back. This post was a long time coming, but I’m glad to finally share it with you.