The group of filmmakers called KUZOKU was created in Tokyo in 2001 by Katsuya Tomita, Toranosuke Aizawa and Yoshiko Takano.
Above the Clouds was filmed between 2000 and 2003 (Director: Katsuya Tomita, DP: Takako Takano, Co-screenwriter: Taku Igawa [passed away in April 2011]), and during filming, Toranosuke Aizawa – who at the time was making his own film, Katabira Street – decided to join in. After both Above the Clouds and Katabira Street were completed, the filmmakers decided to put together a screening event every month for 7 months, and called it “Choose to choose, Choose to lose, Choose to go!” (taken from Lou Reed’s song). While organising this event, they started using the name “KUZOKU” for their production group. The name originates from a project that Igawa (who was also a novelist) was pursuing at the time: “They used to fly around the skies but migrated underground. They look up through the latticework to see the outside world”. During this screening event, they were notified that they had won the Scholarship Award for the Film School of Tokyo’s 2004 Film Festival. Taking this as their cue, Tomita and Aizawa co-wrote Off Highway 20, their new film, and worked on it together as Kuzoku. Since then, they have worked together regularly. The production side remains independent. In 2010, they incorporated KUZOKU.
Born in 1972 in the city of Kofu (Japan). After graduating from high school, he saved money to make films by working as a construction worker and a truck driver, using his childhood friends as actors. For three years, using an 8mm camera, he spent his weekends making his first film, Above the Clouds, which was released independently in 2003. With the 1,500,000 yen he won from an award for this film, together with Toranosuke Aizawa he wrote Off Highway 20 (2007), which was shot using 16mm film. In 2008, he decided to make Saudade with the help of his childhood friends once again, basing the story in his hometown of Kofu, a city to which many Japanese-Brazilians have moved back from Brazil. Saudade was funded with help from the citizens of Kofu; it took a year and half to film, and was finished in 2011. Tomita submitted this film to international film festivals; it was invited to the Locarno International Film Festival and won the Golden Montgolfière Award at the Festival des 3 Continents in France. The film was invited to many other festivals, including four that organised retrospectives of Tomita’s work, notably the Jeonju International Film Festival. In Japan, the film was viewed by 30,000 people, making it a box office hit. In 2012, Tomita started going back and forth between Bangkok and Tokyo in preparation for his next film, Bangkok Nites.
Born in 1974. A member of KUZOKU. In the 90s, he’s traveled all around Asia. He makes a documentary movie, Flower Story Babylon (97) based on the Hmong tribe in China and the Golden Triangle. He worked at a motorcycle shop to create and direct the film, KATABIRA Street portraying Japanese Bosozoku (motorcycle gang). While making this film, Tomita who was a truck driver befriended Aizawa which led to him ending up being in Above the Clouds (2003) as an actor and staff. After the film was done, they created the production group, KUZOKU. They Co-wrote Off Highway 20 (07) and Saudade (11). His newest creation is Guns of Babylon (13), a Vietnam war themed film.
2003 Above the Clouds (Director: Katsuya Tomita)
2003 Katabira Street (Director: Toranosuke Aizawa)
2007 Off Highway 20 (Director: Katsuya Tomita)
2009 FURUSATO 2009 (documentary)
2011 Saudade (Director: Katsuya Tomita)
2013: Guns of Babylon (Director: Toranosuke Aizawa)
2011 / 167 min / color
Production Company: KUZOKU Inc.
Director: Katsuya Tomita
Screenplay: Toranosuke Aizawa, Katsuya Tomita
Cinematography: Yoshiko Takano
Sound: Iwao Yamazaki
Assistant Director: Kentaro Kawakami
Cast: Tsuyoshi Takano, Hitoshi Ito, Dengaryu (from stillichimiya), Deejai Paweena, Ai Ozaki, Chie Kudo, Dennis Oliveira de Hamatsu, Yota Kawase
Kofu is a quiet city in the suburbs of Japan. Takeru, a crewmember of a hip-hop group called “Army Village” meets Seiji and Hosoka while working at a construction site. Seiji only knows construction work, and Hosoka just came back from visiting Thailand. One night after work, the three go to a pub. While Seiji and Hosoka enjoy the company of their Thai hostesses, Takeru on the other hand feels uneasy and develops a feeling of hostility towards foreigners. In the midst, Takeru learns of a hip-hop group “Small Park” lead by Dennis, a Brazilian-Japanese. Then one night at a party, a battle between the two hip-hop groups begin.
Festival des 3 Continents 2011 (France) – International Competition – Montgolfière d’Or (Grand Prize)
Festival del film Locarno 2011 (Switzerland) – International Competition
Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival 2011 (Portugal) – Out of competition
Festival des 3 Continents 2011 (France) – International Competition – Montgolfière d’Or
Hong Kong International Film Festival 2012 (China) – Indie Power
Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival 2012 (Argentina) – Cinema of the Future
Jeonju International Film Festival 2012 (South Korea) – Tomita Katsuya Special– World Cinema
Edinburgh International Film Festival 2012 (U.K.)– New Perspectives
Munich International Film Festival 2012 (Germany) – International Independents
Japanese Film Festival Zipangu Fest 2012 (U.K.)
Camera Japan Festival 2012 (Netherlands)
Kaohsiung Film Festival 2012 (Taiwan) – The Cutting-Edge Fighter: Tomita Katsuya
Cinemanila International Film Festival 2012 (Philippines) – World Cinema
Ars Independent International Film Festival 2013 (Poland) – Katsuya Tomita Retrospective
Bordeaux International Independent Film Festival 2013 (France) – Focus Katsuya Tomita