News Sushi #106: Morsels of News from Japan and Beyond

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Editor Note:It is Friday and that means it is time for the World Famous, soon to be Intergalactic Famous, News Sushi from our very own, Hamish Downie. Hamish brings us a decidedly different slant on Pop Culture as viewed through the lens of a non-native living in Japan.

Thank you (ありがとうございました) Hamish, for your insights.

こんにちは!Which means “Hello”!

Firstly, let’s congratulate Ben and Keith for reaching 300 episodes of their podcast (and what created and brought our little community together)! That is amazing, especially when so many podcasts fizzle out in their first year. Editor: Thank You, Hamish for the kind words!


Warning: I’m going to talk about the weather. Not because I’ve got nothing better to talk about, but because it’s been so good lately! We’ve had blue skies everywhere, take a look at this photo from Tokyo:

It’s actually such a typical phemonoma in Japan over Autumn to have beautiful blue skies that it even has a name:

Lucky for me as I’ve shot two music videos this month (and will have shot three by the end of the month) for my upcoming feature film’s soundtrack. The first one I did was for the song “Write” featuring John on vocals:

And the second one I directed was for Deron Reynolds, who is also the composer of the film’s score. This is behind the scenes of the music video shoot for “The Path”:

And it was such a beautiful day, we are going to have a very pretty music video. And yes, that is a keytar!


In bigger news, I got to attend the GOL Summit (online), and Ben and Keith have asked me to report how it was.

Platform review

So for starters, I’ve never attended an online conference before, so it could be very typical, but I’m going to compare it to my experience at the Festival de Cannes/European Film Market. It was free to attend, and all panels will be made available for three months after the event. The website portal was designed to mimic the experience of attending a festival, and even had tables with individual topics to encourage the kinds of “bumping into a random person at Cannes, finding that they are an uber producer, and signing a three-picture deal”. Everyone who signs up gets an avatar, and it’s possible to chat/message attendees and panelists. One issue is that not everyone had their social media or websites ready, so it was somewhat difficult to try and create relationships outside the platform itself (eg. on twitter).

Day One – Pitch Videos

Unfortunately, the videos weren’t all in English, so my comments will be limited to the ones I could understand. There are some great ideas and I’m looking forward to seeing the final films that get made. Some videos were just the director pitching directly to the camera (as I did – although I didn’t make the finalists this year), and others created mock trailers. Personally, I found the ones pitching direct to camera more interesting as I could feel the passion of the filmmakers (even when they were in Chinese, and I couldn’t understand anything, I could see the passion!)

Personally, my favourite pitch was from German-based Chinese filmmaker Popo Fan (pictured below), who I hope to interview in the future.

Day Two – Panels

The second day was for the panels. There were five panels, but as of writing, I’ve only managed to catch two of them, the one on East meets West, what Queer audiences are looking for, and the one that every filmmaker wants to listen to, What financing opportinuties are available for LGBT filmmakers. The biggest surprise that I got out of these sessions was that in the Philippines, the so called “BL: Boy Love” genre was now the most popular movie genre in the area, even crossing over to mainstream audiences. For those who don’t know, Boy Love means a Gay Romance story that has been written for a mostly straight female audience – think Brokeback Mountain (yes, the gays loved it, but it was those straight women seeing the two handsome heros falling in love that made it very succesfull). One downside to the panel hosted by the Variety Asia was that the Americans spoke for 90% of the time and didn’t really talk much about Asia itself (outside of Hong Kong), so it would have been nice if the panel was moderated as well as the first one where everyone had an equal opportunity to talk.

Other days: evening movies

I caught some of the first night’s film, which was the series “Queer Taiwan”. I was a bit confused at first, as the video section said I would need to ask for permission, but once I looked in the video description, I could see the external links I needed. The episodes were being played on a 24 hour loop.

Overall impression

Overall, I felt like the GOL Summit was very successful and was able (as much as possible) to recreate the kind of experience and benefits one would get from an in-person festival. Like anything, it’s up to the individual to make the best of it, and I feel that GOL Summit has given the attendees every possible opportunity to create new connections. The benefit for someone like me is that I can attend from the comfort and cost-effectiveness of my home. I’m looking forward to next year.



I recently received this press release from Sapphic Lasers about his latest release:

“Good boys, bad girls, leather clad dykes, boots, bruises and spit – trans butch electronic pop artist Sapphic Lasers just released a dark & sexy disco anthem about QUEER CRUISING. Nostalgia for a pre-pandemic time, when queers could cruise shamelessly, this track blends dark pop with queer lust and yearning.”


Just prior to entering her long professional career, Kaede Hatashima discards her masculine form and comes out to society as a transgender woman. In the brief respite between graduate school and her new job as an architect, she tests her wings as a woman for the first time. Through competing in a beauty contest and by giving lectures, Kaede gains attention as a gifted and talented transgender woman. While in the media spotlight, she seeks an active role in expanding the prospects for other trans people. Internally, however, Kaede cannot shake the self-image of a son rejected by his father, which remains with her from childhood. An ambitious trans woman aiming for social achievement and a son secretly wishing to be loved and recognized. Grappling with these two identities, what kind of woman will Kaede design? This documentary tells an ongoing story, and captures the moment when the woman known as Kaede is born.


Teaser Trailer for the upcoming film by Cody Clarke and Chloe Pelletier, Attack of the Giant Blurry Finger. Coming November 2020. We shot the entire movie for $0 while self-quarantining.



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