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Wāhine Directors @HIFF43: Chiaki Yanagimoto

Aleta interviews Chiaki Yanagimoto straight from the HIFF43 red carpet!

CY: I'm Chiaki Yanagimoto and I’m the co-director and producer of AUM: The Cult at The End of The World and it played at HIFF43.

AH: What is your film about?

CY: It's about this Japanese cult that started as a small yoga group in Japan in the late eighties and in ten years of time it became an international terrorist organization. And the cult is responsible for the Tokyo subway attack.The film focuses on why this group became what it became.

AH: What drew you to this story and this event specifically?

CY: I think the biggest part of why I was motivated to make this film was the story wasn't really told in a way that was meaningful, that that meant something because we I think there are a lot of lessons that we could take from this story. But of course, the subway attack is very infamous and a lot of people around the world know about it. But the story behind it is much more. And I think a lot of stories that were hidden behind this very shocking incident was the story that I wanted people to really know about. So I think there are a lot of lessons that we can take from how this happened. And I guess that's what my goal is for them and for the audience to take away the lessons that we can learn. And it's very, very relevant for today's society.

AH: I completely agree. I know you work in film not only as a director, what other work you do?

CY: I've been producing and this is my first directorial work, but I also have a company, production company in L.A., and we recently started a distribution business as well. We have a distribution hub called SAKKA. And what we do is bring Japanese independent films outside of Japan to the worldwide audience. And we launched May 2022. So it's been a year and a half, and we currently have ten films available. But really our mission is to bring emerging talents and their films to the audience that otherwise have no chance to watch. So it's been a rewarding process, very hard, a lot of work to do. But yeah, it's it's rewarding and I am very proud of the platform. So hope you guys can check it out.

AH: As you are a successful producer and director, what advice would you have for other filmmakers out there in this male dominated field?

CY: I guess the film industry is still, as you said, it's very male dominated, but I never personally felt that being a female was a disadvantage. If anything, it is an advantage because there are a lot of stories that haven't been told because it was such a male oriented, male dominated industry and we can tell those stories. So I think it's a great opportunity right now for these female filmmakers to really step up and tell the stories that only we can tell.

Aleta Hammerich is a local filmmaker and graduate of UH Mānoa School of Cinematic Arts with experience in directing, cinematography, and editing. She has worked on projects such as Reel Wāhine of Hawaiʻi (2021), The ‘Ilima Lady (2023), and Homestead (2023). Aleta is passionate about using filmmaking as a platform to share women’s and LGBTQIA+ stories.


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