November 2017 In Bydgoszcz, Poland for the Camerimage Film Fesitval, where I screened MIFUNE; THE LAST SAMURAI (terrific crowd, Mifune fans are everywhere) and served on the short documentary jury. This is was my second time at this unique festival which brings together cinematographers from around the world.
After the film festival, my family joined me for an extra week to visit Warsaw, Krakow and Auschwitz. My wife, Peggy Orenstein, wrote about it for Conde Nast Traveler. This photo was taken from the main guard tower at the Birkenau Extermination Camp.
May 2017 Polka dots! Yayoi Kusama's "My Eternal Soul" show at National Art Center in Tokyo was super fun. Ignored in Japan and the U.S. for a half century, Kusama, now 89 years old, is finally loved and appreciated.
September 2016 Sneak Preview in Tokyo for the producers and cast of MIFUNE: THE LAST SAMURAI. 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, an icon of Japanese cinema, worked with four of the great directors of Japan's Golden Age of 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).
May 2017 Steven Spielberg at the Amblin Entertainment offices on the Universal Studios Lot. He's a devoted Mifune fan and immediately said "yes" to an 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.
September 2014 This is Kanzo Uni, one of Japan's most respected sword fighting choreographers, with me and five of his 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
Fall/Winter 2010 This is Mischa from HAVE YOU SEEN ME, an unfinished documentary I developed for HBO about homeless kids living on Hollywood Boulevard. For six months, we followed a loose tribe of young adults, who'd escaped rough home lives and abusive Foster Care situations. Singeli Agnew, the producer/shooter who made THE CONSCIENCE OF NHEM EN with me, and I worked separately with two and 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 sketchy abandoned buildings, and enjoying late night 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.
January 21, 2007 The premiere of WHITE LIGHT/BLACK RAIN at the Sundance Film Festival, with Sheila Nevins, President of HBO Documentary Films and a huge influence on my career; Hiroshima survivor Shigeko Sasamori, who I met thirty-five years ago; and the terrific Sara Bernstein, my senior producer at HBO.