Saera Jin and Sharon Rapose are filmmakers and writers from Japan and India/ the UK respectively. Their short film Konnichiwa Brick Lane won Best Comedy at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival and, most recently, screened as part of the 47th Tampere Film Festival in Finland as part of the Swinging London programme. We speak to Jin and Rapose about their journey with Konnichiwa Brick Lane since its ASFF screening.
ASFF: Your film Konnichiwa Brick Lane has screened around the world at festivals since its premiere at ASFF. What does the selection for Tampere Film Festival mean to you?
SR: I’ve been most grateful to have had so much continued support for our little film. Being at festivals such as Aesthetica and Tampere that celebrate our work is a privilege and we never knew at the beginning where ASFF would take us – to another world class festival, years later...
SJ: We’ve been on a quite an international journey, haven’t we? Starting with ASFF and Cannes, to Vancouver Asian Film Festival, 15 Minutes of Fame Film Festival in Florida, Shorts on Tap’s “London Calling” screenings, “Tokyo Calling” in Japan, a BAFTA LA Newcomers Showcase, followed by Berlin Film Society’s CHERRY PICKS last year. And now Tampere! Maybe it’s reflective of the diverse nature of our film. Yes, I feel truly lucky, too.
SR: To have our film recognised, years after we made it, has been tremendously encouraging for us as filmmakers and writers – we’ve been reinvigorated by Tampere, thoroughly inspired to keep on writing and creating, to continue on this journey.
ASFF: Saera you attended ASFF with Konnichiwa Brick Lane. How did you find the festival experience?
SJ: It was definitely worth flying for 19 hours from Tokyo. I loved the panel discussion and most of all, I enjoyed connecting with our audiences and fellow filmmakers. Like Tampere, Aesthetica has its own excellent curation – and as an avid filmgoer as well as filmmaker, the rest of our programme and the other shorts I watched were great.
York is also a special place for a film festival. A beautiful, small, historic city that is a treat for filmmakers from other countries to visit. We had a tea at Betty’s and it was lovely. For the audiences, the films and the backdrop, I’d love to go back to the festival one day.
ASFF: What is the film about? What do you hope audiences will take away from it?
SJ: The tag line I came up with was, “Goodbye, My Love. Hello, New Lover.”
SR: Which I instantly loved!
SJ: It’s a romantic comedy, about a Japanese girl losing love and finding a new love in a day, all happening on multicultural London street, Brick Lane. The story is about counter culture, stepping out from one’s own ethnic community in London, heartbreak and being love struck. I wanted people to go away realising that love and happiness are always within our grasp – it’s all about attitude.
SR: And for those who have never experienced a cross cultural relationship, to think about love holistically – we’re all the same, even if we speak different languages and come from different places. Konnichiwa Brick Lane was the first film we both made, a simple film and story, but it’s the one people keep on wanting to show and still contact us about. So, we do hope the film has somehow touched our audiences in these ways.
ASFF: Where do you hope to take your filmmaking next?
SJ: I’m currently finishing a screenplay about a group of multicultural young people sharing an apartment in Tokyo. In a kind of “L’Auberge Espagnole / Pot Luck” vein. Plus a crime drama novel, set in Sweden. I am moving towards screenwriting these days, though have loved the experience of directing, which has made me a better writer, as well. I’m keen to keep writing stories with meaning and having these made into films.
SR: Yes, films with meaning and with heart. Funnily enough, I’ve also moved towards screenwriting – though I may still produce again! I write thrillers, mostly political – stories about people we can connect with and understand, even if they’re from very different worlds to you or me. Especially in these troubled times, I feel it’s important to tell stories that connect us and bring us closer together.
ASFF: Is it possible for us to catch Konnichiwa Brick Lane somewhere?
SJ: Yes, Shorts International are still screening Konnichiwa around the world to TV audiences today, until the end of the year. Sharon, what do you think about putting the film on Vimeo afterwards – at the moment, we still just have the trailer… It would be great to reach more of our audience online as well as in person at festivals.
SR: I agree. Watch this space!
ASFF 2017 is now open for entries: www.asff.co.uk/submit
1. Saera Jin and Sharon Rapose, Konnichiwa Brick Lane.