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Monday, 12 March 2012






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Take a reel ride

Spotlight on Japan’s Toei Kyoto Studio Park:

Imagine walking among larger-than-life monuments of almost every kind of building available on Japanese soil. Picture some of the faces that you have seen on screen donning various attires, made up, ready to face the camera and breathe life into a character unlike his or her own. These and many more features will fascinate you as you stroll through the gates of Toei Kyoto Studio Park, Japan.

Sword fighting is
a popular attraction

Entering the park.
Pictures by Saman Sri Wedage

Inside a cottage

Some of the ancient Japanese structures

A flying Ninja

Ancient Japanese structures

A carriage

Located in Uzumasa, Kyoto, and owned by Toei, one of the major Japanese movie companies, the Toei Kyoto Studio Park brings Sri Lanka's own Ranmihithenna Mahinda Rajapaksa Tele Cinema Village to mind. Many of Japan's movies have taken shape there and many continue to do so.

Situated in Toei’s Kyoto Studio, the movie theme park is a treasure trove of Japanese period dramas and culture. Walk through cityscape sets used in movies. It may be a cottage, inn, mill or even a haunted house, Toei Kyoto Studio Park has it all.

Often dubbed as Toei Movie Land, a majority of the space is occupied by old Japanese buildings. Walking along the pathways you are engulfed by the atmosphere of Edo, old Tokyo. There are kabuki theatre, stores, court, samurai houses, and other architectural monuments. The old Japanese town comes alive before your eyes.

Swordfight classes

Many of us think ‘Samurai’ or ‘Ninja’ when we hear the word ‘Japan’. Unfortunately they existed more than 140 years ago. To see one today will be a real treat. Well walk into the ‘Cambara’ sword-fighting action classes and be swept away by the enthusiasm. It will make a Samurai or Ninja out of you!

Visitors are allowed to witness some of the major scenes of their favourite productions taking shape as the director calls the shots behind the camera. Stop by for a photo session with the actors while they take a break from their hectic shooting schedules.

Martial arts performances

Martial arts performances

Apart from the sets the park also offers live performances for its visitors. They are taken back in decades through swordfight shows performed by some of the most talented martial arts performers in the country.

Historical costumes

Explore the other avenues of your surroundings. Professional actors in ghost costumes will give you the chills at the haunted house. The 3D castle and 3D theater provide excitement of a different dimension. You can paint on folding fans or Kiyomizu pottery, which is traditional ceramic made in Kyoto. These are experiences which bring out the best in the traditional Japanese culture.

One of the most popular sections of the park is the ‘Historical Costume Disguise Corner’ where you can transform yourself into a warrior, emperor or princess with a little help from the professional make up artists and costume specialists. For more casual designs visit the ‘Disguise Photo Corner’ where you can try out a costume over your clothes. The place houses around 30 choices including a princess, Oiran, or courtesan, Maiko, a young geisha girl, Lordship Shinsen Gumi, Ninja and a widely known group of samurai warriors in Kyoto.

Period dramas

The park was originally a film set for period plays of Toei Company. When period dramas began to lose their popularity, the company was struck by a brainwave. Why not open doors to a magical place where people can walk amid their favourite stars and sets?

With this idea in mind they lunched the Toei Kyoto Studio Park in 1975. Later the park was renovated to house more spell-binding facets. One such aspect is the animation museum which introduces the 60 years history of Toei Animation and their latest popular shows.

The entrance

Geisha girl

An actor ready for shooting

Ancient Japanese structures

Movie archives

A Museum of ‘Ukiyo-e’ - wood block prints is another major attraction in the site. Other features include a Game house, the Nakamuraza Theatre, Port Town, Ninja Mystery House, Edo Shopping Mall, Jidaigeki Film Event Set, Nihonbashi Bridge, Home of Heiji Zenigata and the Japanese Movie Archives. Walk through the gate once and you will feel as if you traveled back in time to the Japan of over 100 years ago!

Each year 700,000 to one million tourists enter the park to walk among the wonders of Japanese culture and art which had evolved over the years.











Himali weds Asanga

Himali and Asanga.
Picture by Tennyson Edirisinghe

Renowned television presenter turned actress Himali Sayurangi who had breathed life into many teledrama characters and roles in films like ‘Sikuru Hathe’ and ‘Ekamath Eka Rateka’ tied the knot with Adland Advertising Agency head Asanga Jayalath last week.

The glamorous wedding ceremony was held at Cinnamon Lakeside while the poruwa traditions were carried out at Gangarama Viharaya. Himali’s nuptial theme was the ocean which derives from the meaning of her middle name.

Many popular faces from the mini and wide screen graced the event. Himali was made up as a Kandyan bride by Chandimal Jayasinghe.

Her wedding saree was gifted to her by ‘Matha’ producer Sarath Ranaweera. Her bridesmaids were actress Sheshadri Priyasad and Ravisha. The best men were Ravindra Yasas’ son, Kasun Chamara, and Shanika.

Suraj Mapa handled the lighting system for the event. Her wedding cake structure which took the shape of sea shells was designed by R L Celement. The flower decorations were by Lassana Flora. Sisila Dance Academy students provided dance items while music and songs were provided by Kapila Pugalarachchi and Nelu Adikari.



‘Hugo’ comes to town

Scene from ‘Hugo’

Based on the book 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret' by Brian Selznick and Martin Scorsese's choice for the children's film that he has long wanted to make, 'Hugo' is a cinematic delight that pleases on every level that one could desire.

The story about a young boy named Hugo who lives behind the scenes in a Paris railway station where he tends the station’s clocks and also tries to solve the puzzle of a clockwork automaton that his father and he had been attempting to fix will appeal to children for its spirit of adventure, but equally so to adults as it also but not alone contains a well-realized connection to the earliest days of film in the personage of French filmmaker Georges Méliès.

Under Martin Scorsese's direction, ‘Hugo’ has a freshness, a degree of mystery, and an exuberance that is very seldom managed in today's film offerings. Scorsese (working with cinematographer Robert Richardson [Oscar winner]) marshals an incredible blend of superb production design/set decoration by Dante Ferretti/Francesca Lo Schiavo (Oscar winner), judiciously utilized visual effects supervised by Rob Legato (Oscar winner), and an entrancing music score by Howard Shore (Oscar nomination). He also draws uniformly fine work from all the members of a cast that includes Asa Butterfield as Hugo, Sacha Baron Cohen doing his best work on film to date, Ben Kingsley as a mysterious clockwork artifact seller, Emily Mortimer, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ray Winstone, Christopher Lee, Richard Griffiths, and Jude Law. For Scorsese, the result is a tour de force on a par artistically with any of the great gangster films for which he is so well-known and revered.

‘Hugo’ received 11 Academy Award nominations and won in five categories at the recent 2012 Oscar ceremony. It was also successful in the area of sound recording and sound mixing.

Sanath begins second cinematic venture

The key players of the event. Pictures by Wasitha Patabendige

Director Sanath Abeysekara who enthralled the audience with his much talked about movie ‘Mahindagamanaya’ recently held the muhurath ceremony to announce his second film.

Titled ‘Siri Daladagamanaya’, the film is based on the tale in which the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha was brought to Sri Lanka. The two main characters in the story are Princess Hemamala and Prince Dantha. It is a story shrouded in miracles and mystery.

The ‘Siri Daladagamanaya’ team lights the traditional oil

“The story relates how Sri Lanka obtained it’s most valuable and sacred treasure. There are many written scriptures like ‘Dalada Vanshaya’, ‘Dalada Siritha’ and ‘Dalada Puvatha’ which relate this story in different angles. We read the writing and did a lot of research to get the accurate details to draft the final script,” said Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thera.

The film will be produced by Ven Akaravita Sanganandha thera and EAP Films and Theatres chairperson Dr Soma Edirisinghe. Ravindra Randeniya, Geetha Kumarasinghe, Ranjan Ramanayaka, Shriyantha Mendis, Dilhani Ekanayake and many other renowned actors and actresses will comprise the cast. Princess Hemamala’s role will be played by Miss Sri Lanka 2011 Pushpika Sandamali.

Sumindha Weerasinghe is the cameraman. The production manager is Nihal Sanjaya. Ravindra Guruge will be in charge of the editing while Velegadara Ranasinghe will be the art director. Sam Perera will be the hair stylist and Sanjaya Nipunarachchi will handle the make up department. The music is by Ranga Dassanayake. The production executive is Tissa Liyanarachchi. The assistant directors are Manuranga Abeysiriwardena and Vernon Abeysinghe.

Timeless tale rejuvenated

Walt Disney’s 1991 instant classic, ‘Beauty and the Beast', is not only the finest animated movie ever made, but deserves a prominent position on any list of all-time greats.

Although not the highest grossing Disney production, nor the best-remembered by most kids (those honors go to 'The Lion King'), 'Beauty and the Beast' nevertheless earned the most enthusiastic notices ever by the critics and was recognized with a Best Picture Oscar nomination. The studio knew early in development that it had a winner.

In an unprecedented move, Disney screened a 70 percent complete work print to a packed auditorium at the 1991 New York Film Festival months before the movie was finished.

The astounding reception helped to build a sense of anticipation that was unrivaled since the days of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’.

‘Irresistible’ is an apt description of this film, because every frame is imbued with a magic that is rare for any motion picture, animated or otherwise.

In the past, I have been known to criticize Disney from time-to-time, but not on this occasion. 'Beauty and the Beast' is a triumph of artistry – a rare movie where all of the elements gel perfectly.

It has set the standard for today's animated motion picture, improving upon 'The Little Mermaid' and establishing a level that no subsequent animated film has equaled.

The movie will begin screening at Superior 3D, Majestic Cineplex from March 9. It is a CEL release.


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