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Friday, March 6, 2009

New theater keeps it short and sweet

Staff writer

History is being made on the second floor of a new apartment block in Yokohama's waterfront Minato Mirai district where, since February 2008, the Brillia Short Shorts Theater has been Japan's first and only cinema dedicated to films under 25 minutes long. The one-screen venue is now showing this year's Oscar-winning live-action short "Toyland," alongside Oscar nominees from previous years in what it dubs its "Academy Program."

News photo
Not a long player: Oscar-winning movie "Toyland" shows at the Brillia Short Shorts Theater in Yokohama.

Opened to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Tokyo's annual Short Shorts Film Festival (SSFF) — the largest short-film festival in Asia — Brillia's playlist includes works from around the world, while drawing heavily on the 700-odd entries in past SSFF events. The theater offers programs of 4 or 5 shorts (with Japanese and English subtitles) that change twice a month throughout the year. This way it aims to support a wide range of filmmakers, and to give audiences a chance to experience both the breadth and depth of the short-film genre.

"Short films are like espresso," explains Chieko Uno, the theater's manager. "They have firm story structures in which many elements are compressed."

This short, sharp flavor is particularly evident in Germany's 14-minute "Toyland," a Holocaust drama directed by Jochen Alexander Freydank that reveals — with a clever twist — the guilt and lies of a German mother.

Along with "Toyland," the other "Academy Program" shorts are "Maestro," a 5-minute animation from Hungary; and "Our Time is Up," a 14-minute U.S. comedy about a therapist who dramatically changes his lifestyle when he finds he has only six weeks to live.

The theater is also currently showcasing "Program U," which consists of 5 shorts, including "Sushi Japan," a 7-minute Japanese comedy about three men encountering a quirky old guy; and "The Light of Darkness," a 9-minute U.S. suspense drama about a woman who spends a night in a car on a deserted road.

"Academy Program" runs until March 30, and "Program U" runs until the end of March. Tickets per program are ¥1,000. Brillia Short Shorts Theater is a 6-min. walk from Exit 2, Minato Mirai Station, Minato Mirai Line. For more information, and upcoming lineups, visit www.Brillia-SST.jp

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