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A Dance Film

Even in Kyoto — 

Hearing the cuckoo's cry— 

I long for Kyoto 

Matsuo Basho, 17th century

A woman, who works in a dull, monotonous office in Kyoto, frequently humiliated by her boss, realizes she can escape to a different reality through her office cabinet. There, in a place she profoundly  longs for, she experiences a revelation. Meditative as well as dramatic and funny, The Cuckoo’s Cry is a highly artistic compound of dance and cinema.

PREMIERED at Pool Festival, Berlin, 2016

WINNER of Honorable Mention:  Festival D'Olhar, Brazil, Kyoto Art Center, Kyoto, Japan, Beit Michal, Rehovot, Israel. 

WINNER of Special Mention: International Video Festival VIDEOMEDEJA -  Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina, Novi Sad, Serbia.

SCREENED at:  Cerdanyola Spring Short film festival, Barcelona, Spain.  Moving Images Festival, Nicosia, Cyprus. Breaking 8, Festival Internazionale Nuova Danza, Sardinia, Italy.  The International Dance FilmFestival, Brussels, Belgium. 

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“There’s movement and cinema, characters and drama in The Cuckoo’s Cry, but for me, more than anything else, it explores what yearning is. Basho’s Haiku is about longings, but it’s also an act of longing. We can long for a place we’re currently at or long for a person we’re currently with. For me, art is always about longing. Art aspires to reach and touch true emotions, therefore as a choreographer, I always long. For me, art is an act of longing for the experience, longing for a certain emotion, for a unique state of mind. We try to touch a human experience through movement, through words, through frames. I reach my hand to it.”

Inbal Oshman

Photo: Yannes Levi

Direction & Script Inbal Oshman & Yannets Levi  |   Production Kyoto Art Center  |   Dancers Yoko Higashino, Izumi Fujii, Yukio Miyahara, Meyou Kobayashi, Ryonosuke Endo Hisayo Sugimoto, Atsushi Heki, Chie Nakane, Maya Izutsu  |   Director of Photography Yohei Cogi  |   Cameraman Kenji Ushikubo  |   Assistant camera Momoko Tamari, Akari Nakamura  |   Editor & Sound designer Sagie Baron  |   Music Doron Butnik, Kokû (Fudaiji) Lighting design Ryoya Fudetani  |   Set Design Hoshiro Ando  |   Photography Yohei Cogi | Producer Eriko Kamimura | Assistant Yoshiya  Yoshimitsu  |   Supported By the Embassy of Israel in Japan. Duration: 27 min.


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Basho’s Haiku is dedicated to Kyoto, where nature and its beauty are so present and sacred.  

Kyoto in the poem and Kyoto in reality deeply inspired the creative process. 

These roots in Honen-in ancient temple guided the film’s choreographic vocabulary and expressed the main character’s engagement with nature. 

shakuhachi monks

Though the film’s soundtrack - composed by Doron Butnik - is prominently electronic and modern, one can also hear in it ancient melodies of the Shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute. Zen aesthetics influenced Inbal in previous works, are very dominant in Kyoto and inspired Inbal in the creation of the film. We wished to charge the choreography and cinematography with qualities of Zen aesthetics such as Wabi, Sabi and Ma (Charged emptiness). Komuso monks (“monks of emptiness”) of the Fuke Zen Buddhist sect flourished in Japan in the 17th-19th centuries. They used to wear a straw bascinet over their head and play the Shakuhachi as part of their meditative practice. This flute’s sound produces beauty, mindfulness and sacredness, which the film’s main character longs for. 

Modern Times | Charlie Chaplin, 1936


In “The Cuckoo’s Cry” the main character works and actually lives in a dull monotonous office in Kyoto, frequently humiliated by her boss. She even sleeps under her desk. Some of the more funny yet touching scenes in the wordless film shows her office life.

Chaplin’s iconic Modern Times is one of Inbal’s favorite films and gave her much inspiration in creating the choreographic vocabulary of these scenes.

From Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin


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