Czech Animation Film Festival
Because it grew up behind the iron curtain the Czech animation
industry has not had much popular success in the West, even though
its output is of a comparable quality to Japanese and US animation.
Czech animators have been making critically acclaimed films since
the 1940s. Hermína Tyrlova, born in Bohemia in 1900, has
been known as the mother of Czech animation since making
the first animated puppet film in what was then Czechoslovakia
she made more than 50 animations for childrens before she
retired in 1986. In Knot in the Handkerchief (1958), Tyrlova mixed
animated handkerchiefs with the live actions of a little boy. Jirí
Trnka is also an internationally recognized artist for his puppet
animation and the winner of several film festivals including Venice.
In Cine Nouveau, from May 22 June 4, various kinds
of Czech animation films by Tyrlova, Trnka, and their younger successors
will be released. There are 4 different programs in categories of
BOY, GIRL, FAMILY, and ADULT. Each program contains 7-9 short films
and the runtime is 80-97mins. The Czech experience is animated entertainment
with a difference and well worth a visit despite the linguistic
challenges of Czech dialog subtitled in Japanese.
Theater: Cine Nouveau (Nishi-ku, Kujo 1-20-24 *Near Osaka Dome)
When: Sat 22 May Fri 4 June
Admission: For Each Program, ¥1700 (Advance ticket ¥1400,
available till 21 May in Cine Nouveau, Ticket PIA, or Family Marts)
US Consulate in Osaka snubs peace petitioners
A group of peace protesters arrived at the US
Consulate for an arranged meeting to turn in a petition, only to
be told that Consulate officials had changed their mind about meeting
them and left the protesters outside on the pavement.
The protest, on April 15th, was a response to a call for solidarity
from the International Occupation Watch Centre, based in Baghdad.
The call led to actions across the world, and in Japan petitions
were presented at the US Consulate in Fukuoka and the embassy in
Tokyo. The petitions were a call for US forces in Iraq to lift the
sieges of Fallujah and Najaf, which they claim are in contravention
of the Geneva Convention because they are sieges of civilian centres.
They were also protesting the apparent deliberate targeting by US
forces of civilians and medical workers in the besieged cities.
The organisers of the action called the consulate the day ahead
and arranged to meet representatives on the afternoon of the 15th.
About forty petitioners arrived at the appointed time accompanied
by large police and press contingents but in an unexplained reversal
of policy, consulate officials refused to honour the appointment,
neither coming out nor permitting petitioners in. Instead they sent
out a security guard with a suggestion the petition be passed to
him. This proposal was initially met with derision by the petitioners,
but after further refusals by consulate officials to meet, there
seemed to be little alternative.
Japans hostages billed for release
Japanese hostages released from their Iraqi captors
returned home recently to a bill from the government for their rescue
and a public scolding from the prime minister.
When two aid workers and a journalist were taken hostage recently
Japan was plunged into national anguish. The plight of the hostages
displaced most other stories from the news and chat shows. In contrast,
the government has shown a different kind of concern.
The kidnapping sparked national controversy. Japans
population is very much against both the deployment of its own troops
in Iraq and the US-led occupation of the country. Would the hostage
crisis be the governments equivalent of the Madrid bombs which changed
the Spanish leadership?
It must have been with considerable relief that
Prime Minister Koizumi received the news of the hostages release
and he took the opportunity at a press conference to say that they
ought to reflect long and hard on all the trouble they had caused.
Whether the trouble to which he referred was the negotiations for
their release or the threat to his position at home was not clear.
However, at the same time, an Iraqi cleric concerned with negotiating
the release of the hostages criticised the Japanese government for
its lack of concern. "We were thinking about the hostages more
than the Japanese government," Abdel Salem Al Kubaisi of the
Islamic Clerics Association said at a press conference.
The government reception for the hostages cooled
further when it was decided to bill them for their release.
"For plane costs, we'll charge economy-class," an official
said. "We'll also ask for the costs basically needed to cover
their medical checkups."
And when the hostages announced that they would
like to return to Japan to continue their work, the government reaction
turned into outright hostility, one official saying, If they
really hate to return to Japan, I want them to defect to Iraq. Since
we've paid so much from the state coffers, I feel they should compensate
us for it. Mr. Koizumi pitched in again, urging them to
have some sense. Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi commented,
"I hope they will value their saved lives."
Kawaguchi went further sending them a message
to be careful about what they do in the future while another official
told them Japan would not protect them if they returned to Iraq.
The youngest of the released hostages, Noriaki Imai, 18 also got
a good dressing down from his mum. Like the prime minister she scolded
him for all the trouble he had caused and then lamented to reporters
that although he understood the words, she was not convinced he
understood the meaning.
In hyper-polite Japan it is not unusual for rescued
people to publicly apologise for inconveniencing their rescuers,
but such public scolding and demands for compensation from the authorities
What Beckham Scandal?
cannot have escaped your notice that the Britains favourite
celebrity couple have lately been embroiled in a storm over Davids
alleged affairs with other women. The news has, however, escaped
the notice of the gossip-hungry Japanese media. Or could it be that
they are in denial?
The Becks are popular in Japan because of their
image as ideal, hard-working parents. The scandal that has tarnished
that image abroad has yet to surface here.
The scandal centres on allegations from a former
personal assistant to David Beckham, Rebecca Loos, who claims they
had a protracted and passionate affair, all of course completely
unknown to the good wife Victoria.
In interviews with UK tabloids The News
of the World alone is supposed to have paid her £350,000
Loos went into quite graphic detail about Davids skills at
oral sex. She also claims that Becks likes to hear stories of lesbian
sex, and Loos, being bisexual, is able to oblige. Being very modern
people, their affair if it even happened had a digital
aspect as they exchanged dirty text messages over their mobiles.
Loos revelations brought a rash of claims
from other women who claim to have slept with him since he got married.
So many in fact that one entrepreneur has taken to selling I
slept with David tee shirts and badges, which you can acquire
Meanwhile, the Beckhams have been furiously denying
the allegations and are considering legal action.
Family friends, however, have leaked the information that privately
David has confessed to Victoria. There is no sign of a divorce,
and publicly at least, she is standing by her man.
Loyal or pragmatic? The Beckhams
advertising deals in Japan alone are worth huge amounts of money,
which might explain the Japanese medias mysterious silence
on the subject. The couples deals with a certain confectionary
manufacturer and a maker of cosmetic products is worth ¥500
million each. These are not the only sponsorship deals they have
in this country. Globally, David Beckhams earnings from sponsorship
were worth 18 million Euro last year.
The UKs Observer newspaper wrote that the
couple will not split because "the armies who feed off Beckham's
status as a worldwide brand" need him so desperately. This
dependency includes the media, but here where the medias silence
has led to intense speculation, at least in the KS office, that
there is a gentlemans agreement to keep schtum about this
story that could tarnish the image of several brands.