Dozens of Norths Dozens of Norths

Last year, we exclusively unveiled the first images from Dozens of Norths, the debut feature from Japanese indie luminary Koji Yamamura. The first trailer from this striking project is now out. (Note that the English title, originally A Dozen Norths, has been changed.)

The experimental film is loosely structured around a person’s journey to a northern land. The narrative unfolds across dreamlike realms populated with characters in states of psychological stasis or distress. The feature will premiere in competition at Japan’s New Chitose Airport International Animation Festival, which will be held on November 5–8. In the meantime, here’s the trailer:

Yamamura is one of Japan’s most prominent independent animation filmmakers. His shorts include the Oscar-nominated Mt. Head, the Ottawa-winning A Country Doctor, and Muybridge’s Strings, a co-production with the National Film Board of Canada.

Dozens of Norths is a co-production between his Yamamura Animation and France’s Miyu Productions. The director worked on it, mostly at his Tokyo studio, with a small team. The film’s world is based on a series of covers Yamamura had previously illustrated for the literary review Bungakukai; the legacy of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which occurred in the north of Japan, is also a key influence on the project’s themes and mood.

The animation in the film is very limited. This was an aesthetic choice, Yamamura told me when I interviewed him for the magazine Blink Blank last year. He explained that the role of movement in his work is diminishing with time, while aspects like composition are becoming more important:

Digital technology lets me work on the visual aspects in a more segmented way. Rather than working on the image layer by layer, thinking about what is needed in terms of movement and what would make it all easier to animate, I want to work on the image as a whole. And if I see the need to add more animation, the technology lets me do so. The animation of characters, movement in and of itself, are no more than one element, less essential to my eyes.

The other features in competition at New Chitose are Xi Chen’s Chicken of the Mound, Lorenzo Mattotti’s The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily, and Gabriel Verdugo Soto’s Elulu.

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