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10/24(FRI) Press Conference of Ruined Heart: Notes & Quotes


©2014 TIFF

Tadanobu Asano, the star of Competition Section entry “Ruined Heart,” was not free to join the staff and cast for what producer Stephan Holl called the film’s “first showing on a big screen,” but his spirit added to the international flavor of the press conference that followed. Though nominally a Philippine production filmed in Manila, the movie’s cast includes not only the Japanese Asano and various Filipino actors, but also a Mexican woman (Nathalia Acevedo) and an Indian woman (Elena Kazan). Holl is German. And the movie was shot by the illustrious cinematographer-gadfly Christopher Doyle, an Australian based in Hong Kong. As another actor in the film, Vim Nadera, pointed out, the movie is “globalization personified.”
Nevertheless, the themes and situations were distinctively Philippine, even if the plot was one that any student of film noir is very familiar with, as the subtitle—”Another Love Story Between a Criminal and a Whore”—suggests. Asano plays the anonymous Criminal, a hit man with his arm in a sling who is charged by his boss (Nadera) to guard the boss’s woman, but instead the Criminal runs away with the woman, and you can sort of guess what happens from there. But in the end the story seems less important than the images and the overall picture of an underworld culture, not to mention the rich use of music, including both old tunes (the title is taken from a famous love song) and ones newly composed by Khavn himself, who, as Nadera explained, was once the Yamaha Electone Champion of the Philippines. There’s almost no dialogue, so any narrative points have to be made in visual terms, which is where Doyle comes in, though it has to be said that some of the photography was done by Asano filming himself with what was obviously a handheld camera. As the director, Khavn, put it, the project was a true collaboration.
The press conference, however, was mostly Doyle’s. The impish DP joked about the festival sponsors and made wry remarks about Kazan’s Bollywood connections and whether or not a piglet whose scenes were excised from the final edit was itself excised. (“We ate the pig. It suffered for our art”) But he also clarified some of the film’s rich symbolism in scenes that show how the crime boss keeps his minions in line.
“The Philippines is the most Catholic country in the world,” Doyle explained. “And that’s what makes this a very Philippine film. I was just the bridge that provided the visuals.”
Khavn, the “father of Philippine digital filmmaking,” as Nadera also described him, elaborated on the subject of the film’s impressionistic style by saying, “Religion is very big in the Philippines. Even if you’re not technically Catholic, you’re surrounded by Catholic images and dogma your whole life. It has to do with identity and culture. It’s a part of you whether you like it or not.” This integration of life and belief was exemplified by the fact that some of the film credits were actually tattooed onto a real person, a circumstance Doyle found particularly impressive.
“Now that’s really Catholic,” he said, “in that this guy will live with this film for the rest of his life.”
The production, of course, was much more transient, an experience whose fleeting nature is what made it special. Khavn explained that the movie was shot in only four days, and as Holl put it, “It was a very exciting week, a great collaboration during a difficult period of time due to schedule constraints. But that also made it exciting, the energy of not knowing what’s going to happen and what the film will end up being.”
Kazan also mentioned that she had no idea what the film would be like when she signed up (she met Khavn through Facebook). “We had a script, but everything was really created on the spot, mostly improvised.”
Doyle added, “Don’t believe what they tell you in film school. Every movie I’ve made is determined by the place—people working together for a number of days in a space we shared with the same intent.” That facet of the process may have been the most Catholic aspect of all, if you take the lower case definition of the word, which is “all-inclusive.”
“My name means ‘bearer of Christ’,” Doyle said twice. “But now I’m the bearer of Khavn.”

©2014 TIFF
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KEIRIN.JPThe 27th Tokyo International Film Festival will be held with funds provided by Japan Keirin Association.TIFF History
26th Tokyo International Film Festival(2013)