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23 October 2012

Lifestyle: Jim Whitaker's Rebirth

Lifestyle: Jim Whitaker's Rebirth
By: Tiffy

A bit of good news everyone: I passed my entrance examination of the Graduate Program in Sustainability Science. Starting next year April, I will now officially be a graduate school student. In the meantime, I'm doing the literature review of my research. My professor has thankfully been really supportive and has been giving me good advice. 

Student life shouldn't all be about reading and studying, however, lest I lose my mind. So recently I applied and was selected to be one of the CoFesta Student Ambassadors. CoFesta is a Japanese contents industry festival where events are connected with the different industries like games, animation, manga, characters, broadcast, music, and film. 

Aside from the Grand Ceremony, I also get invited to events related to the industry. 

Last night, I attended the US-Japan Film Academy Talk and Screening Event held in Roppongi Academyhills which was really cool because we got to attend it for free and registered at the press table.

It was a screening of Rebirth, directed by Jim Whitaker. Rebirth is a documentary about the people affected by the 911 tragedy.


Jim Whitaker talking about how he got into the film industry 

Also there was Rachel Gandin Mark, a former student of USC School of Cinematic Arts, who talked some more about the film industry and the pathways you can take if you want to be a certain type of film major.

The audience were also able to ask Jim Whitaker questions about his career and his film.

Six months before 911, Jim Whitaker's mother passed away. And this grief was part of the impetus of doing this documentary. 

When he was considering the people to include in the film, he looked into the firefighters, people who lost someone, people who were directly affected, and so on. When he approached them, he initially told them that he intends to interview them once a year for 10 years. After the 4th and 5th year, however, he realized that there was significant changes in his subjects' lives: one of the subjects who lost her fiance got married, the boy who lost his mother graduated, and so on. So that was when he knew that he was nearing the end. 

According to Whitaker, it wasn't easy deciding the final subjects: a subject pulled out during the initial interviews, some people that he contacted stopped responding to his calls, he had to cut out some people from the final film...

While filming, the final subjects weren't allowed to see the footage of their interviews until the final product so as not to affect how they act during interviews. 

It is a very emotional film and a lot of us in the audience were sniffling as we listened to what the people in the documentary had to say. 

 CoFesta Student Ambassadors with Jim Whitaker

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