Sneak Preview in Tokyo for the producers and cast of MIFUNE: THE LAST SAMURAI in 2016. Seated, l to r: Teruyo Nogami and Kyoko Kagawa. Standing, l to r: Kensuke Zushi (producer), Toichiro Shiraishi (producer), Shiro Mifune, RikIya Mifune, Akemi Mifune, Taro Goto (producer). An incredible group of Japanese film industry people who made the impossible possible.
Teruyo Nogami was Akira Kurosawa's script supervisor for 43 years, from RASHOMON in 1950 to his last film, MADADAYO, in 1993. Read her wonderful autobiography WAITING FOR THE WEATHER. Kyoko Kagawa is one the icons of Japanese cinema, starring in Naruse's MOTHER (1952): Ozu's TOKYO STORY (1953); Mizoguchi's SANSHO THE BAILIFF (1954); and Kurosawa's THE BAD SLEEP WELL (1960).
We interviewed Steven Spielberg at the Amblin Entertainment offices on the Universal Studios Lot in May 2016. He's a devoted Mifune fan and immediately said "yes" to the interview if he could work with his schedule, which took awhile. Toshiro Mifune's grandson, Rikiya Mifune, was an indispensable member of the production team, assisting with research and interpreting tasks. I asked him to conduct several of the interviews, including Spielberg's.
This is Kanzo Uni, one of Japan's most respected sword fighting choreographers, with me and five of his best students. He had small parts in Kurosawa's SANJURO and RED BEARD, and choreographed Mifune's late period samurai films and tv shows. When I met him, he proudly related that he had been killed by Mifune more than a hundred times. including five times in one movie.
Kyoko Kagawa movie magazine covers from the 1950s
This is Mischa from HAVE YOU SEEN ME, an unfinished documentary I developed for HBO about homeless kids living on Hollywood Boulevard. We followed a loose tribe of young adults, who'd escaped rough home lives and abusive Foster Care situations, for about six months in 2010. Singeli Agnew, the amazing producer and shooter who made THE CONSCIENCE OF NHEM EN with me, and I worked separately with two and occasionally three-person crews. Thank you Johannes Kirchlechner, Noah Prestwich and Vanessa Kaneshiro. You were the best people in the world to hang out with all night -- walking up and down Hollywood Blvd., exploring abandoned buildings, and talking over bowls of onion soup at Musso & Frank's. It's such a letdown when you put time and emotion into a project; when you have great colleagues and promising (though difficult to track) subjects; and the plug gets pulled just as you're figuring out how to do it. The next three stills are also from the film.