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A forthcoming film by director Graham Jones entitled 'Fudge 44' features a vast

number of Japanese interview subjects. English-speaking voiceovers are employed

to convey what interviewees are saying, as is common in such productions.

However, Jones has not interpreted the words of his subjects faithfully - rather he's opted to write an entirely fraudulent voiceover to suit his needs. 'Fudge 44' had its Irish Premiere at the 7th International Darklight Festival 2006 in Dublin on June 24th, its Canadian Premiere at RHIFF Toronto a few days earlier where it won an award in the experimental category and its World Premiere at The Delray Beach Film Festival in Florida in March. Also winner of the 2007 Most Original Film award at The Backseat Film Festival in Philadelphia and nominated for a 2006 Irish Digital Media Award, the film is a mockumentary about six puppets in a financially impoverished Tokyo children's puppet theatre who, locals believe, came to life and robbed a nearby bank to avoid being put out of business. Unsurprisingly, many reckon the shooting technique adopted by Jones flies in the face of journalistic

ethics - some claiming it constitutes Western patronisation of Eastern subject matter. Jones is no stranger to controversy. In 1998 his first feature film 'How To Cheat In The Leaving Certificate' caused uproar in Ireland and was condemned outright by then Junior Minister for Education Willie O'Dea. Shot in black and white on Super 16mm the film was warmly received by critics. Variety magazine in the U.S. called it 'the work of a very young and talented director'. The Times in England hailed 'a neat, tense, low budget black and white heist film that delivers an unexpected moral punch'. Dside magazine in Ireland exclaimed 'at last a young Irish director gives us what we want'. As a result, the film was blown up to 35mm for theatrical distribution mere months prior to that year's exams. Now 'Fudge 44', his second feature as director, appears likely to cause even more of a stir than his first. The story focuses on strange events which supposedly occurred in Tokyo last Autumn when hundreds of Japanese people claimed they had bizarre encounters with eccentric three foot tall creatures. Through dozens of interviews Gureamu residents tell their stories and we slowly develop a picture of six small wooden men dressed

in expensive suits, behaving with the characteristics of suave criminals and

engaging in some kind of murky business in the immense economic capital. "We

had virtually no money to make this movie," Jones says. "But that kind of suited the

project. Itâ™s rough

Worked hard to find the perfect look, tone, body language or location for a given scene - then just had the subject talk away in Japanese about their pet dog or something. I would later dub completely fraudulent, English-speaking translations. It's a pastiche of patronising western video journalism on one level. I always remembered that sarcastic comment made by Nobutaka Miyazawa. 'Cheap Karaoke microphones and handycams are all Western journalists need to understand the East.' " Presumably Japan was a difficult country in which to shoot? "It was and it wasn't. The Japanese are reluctant to grant filmmakers permission to do very much, especially outdoors and especially when those filmmakers are gaijin. Then again, they're equally reluctant to challenge gaijin filmmakers who don't bother asking for permission in the first place! This - together with incredible light - made the city like one big soundstage. We were asked to stop shooting sometimes but always

experimental. I used real Japanese people as actors.

politely and always after we had done three or four takes y'know, so

of the mockumentary we discover that The Yamanunchi Bank was robbed late one night, these creatures were seen making a swift getaway in a helicopter and that the Japanese police and media are extremely guarded about the issue. Despite this official silence the creatures have become the stuff of whispers and urban legend in Tokyo - many now believing they were puppets from an old children's puppet theatre threatened with closure, pulling off a heist in a last ditch attempt to save their beloved home. A surreal Japanese fairytale perhaps - but one wonders how the idea was born? Was Jones interested in Japanese cinema beforehand? "I'm going to get asked this question a lot over the next year," he laughs. "Garret [Sexton, co- writer] and I did watch a few Japanese films while we were writing. Watching them felt like an assignment, though. So different to what we were doing. I remember seeing Katsuhiro Ôtomo's Akira when I was in secondary school, the anime, and kind of liking it. One day our whole year just went to see it. But I was never a fan of Japanese cinema or anything." So, why puppets? Why Japan? "Everyone was waxing lyrical about 'Irish Cinema' and the latterday Irish economic boom known as

the 'Celtic Tiger'," Jones says slowly. "It led Garret and I very stubbornly towards a

make-believe Japanese setting and a sort of economy poses to art."

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