Japanese actor visits Korea for independent film festival

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Japanese actor visits Korea for independent film festival

Tadanobu Asano is the kind of actor who says a lot with his blase attitude. Sitting with arms crossed, he gave his usual disinterested look to reporters who were, in contrast, very interested in an actor the Japanese film industry considers one of its proudest men.
Instead of eloquent answers, he was straightforward and short last Thursday when he came here to meet fans. But he made his points.
“The United States is arrogant to demand that Korea limit the number of films [Korea] wants to show here,” said Asano giving his personal opinion on the on-going controversy over the screen quota issue. “That’s something that Koreans will have to decide, not them.”
Although he was in town to promote the Japanese Independent Film Festival which opened in Seoul last week, Asano was apparently more interested in the pending issue in Asian countries. Maybe this is because he is often referred to as an “Asian” rather than simply a “Japanese” actor.
Since the now 33-year-old actor debuted in 1990, he has appeared in many films that became famous across Asia. He has worked with famous Japanese directors including Nagisa Oshima and Kiyoshi Kurosawa while renowned Taiwanese director Hsiao-hsien Hou cites Asano as one of his favorite actors. His film career ranges further afield. He has also worked with directors from Thailand and Russia.
“I think directors [from other countries] cast me because they know it is easy to order me around since I cannot ask questions about what they are doing in their language,” he said, jokingly, through an interpreter.
But many critics say he is an actor who is very natural despite the language barriers he has when working on foreign films.
“I do not know what kind of character I might be asked to perform,” said Asano, “so I try to be ready all the time and use my daily life to imagine that I am someone else and practice my acting.”
That might be another reason why he only appears in films but never in television dramas. He said he has time to be prepared when he has a completed film script in his hands. But with television drama, where the scripts are often revised and rewritten as the episodes run, he said he “hates to readjust” to new circumstances and away from the character he has prepared for.
Asano is appearing in two of the films the festival is showing until mid-August: “Chang no agi,” or “The Taste of Tea” by director Ishii Katsuhito and “Rampo jigoku,” or “Rampo Noir” by directors Akio Jissoji and Suguru Takeuchi.


by Lee Min-a

The Sponge cinema brought the best of Japanese independent films to Jongno, central Seoul, in their Japanese Independent Film Festival running until August 21. This year’s festival boasts 10 films in all, subtitled in Korean. You can catch the movies at the Sponge House located near exit 15 of the Jongno 3-ga subway station on line No. 1. For more on tickets and the screening schedule visit: www.spongehouse.com.
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