They told him he can't have kids. In his palms are cicada shells....

What’s with this project?

Cicada is the first feature-length film from Biola University’s Cinema & Media Arts program.  Professor and director Dean Yamada has traveled with students to Tokyo and Berlin to shoot a series of short films.  Their last two films, Jitensha and Persimmon, screened in competition at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, which is considered the "Cannes of short films."  The time has come to take this proven model of filmmaking to the next level and shoot a feature film.

What is Cicada about?

Cicada is the story of Jumpei-- a man who loses sight of his future when he finds out he is infertile, but then is given the gift of clairvoyance and begins to see glimpses of the future.  These glimpses lead him to a series of cicada shells, which are symbolic of his desire to shed his old self.  Though his lineage ends with himself, Jumpei starts anew as a father-figure to his sister’s young son.

As with Jitensha and Persimmon, there is a depth and humor to Yu Shibuya’s writing, which gives the piece multiple layers.  Our goal is to create a film that will bring hope to a country still shaken by the earthquake of 2011 and to create a world that is free of tsunamis.

Who is on-board?

The film will reunite director Dean Yamada with writer Yu Shibuya, actor Yugo Saso and composer Dana Niu of Jitensha and Persimmon.  The film will also feature Masayuki Yui, who starred in four of Akira Kurosawa’s final five films.

What will the funds go towards?

With rising gas costs, airfare has taken up a large portion of our budget.  Making a feature film can be an expensive endeavor, especially when traveling overseas.  Though the students are paying their own way to Tokyo, we need to pay for equipment rentals, production design, craft services as well as location and actors’ fees.  As with Jitensha and Persimmon, we are going to shoot a no-budget, character-driven arthouse film.  Every dollar will help boost our production value-- even the smallest contribution will make this film better!

Director’s Statement:

In 2009, I made a film called Jitensha (Bicycle), which premiered internationally at the 66th Venice Film Festival.  This was significant for me because it was shot on a low-grade HD camera with a class of undergraduate students at Biola University.  It proved two things:  1) story is king and 2) what we are doing at Biola is special.

Jitensha (Bicycle) went on to win major awards at the Heartland Film Festival, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and the Sapporo Short Fest and screen at some of the biggest festivals in the world, including the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, Palm Springs Shorts Fest and Florida Film Festival.  I subsequently made two more films with my students—Persimmon, which was shot in Japan, and East of Berlin, which was shot in Germany.

With the incredibly gifted writing of Yu Shibuya, the beautifully resonant acting of Yugo Saso, and the deeply moving music of Dana Niu, I believe that we can take this model of shooting low budget, character-driven films, using passionate undergraduate students as crew, and create something significant. 

Please join us as we embark on the incredible journey of making our first feature film.  We desperately need your support to accomplish the daunting task of turning this dream into a reality.


Dean Yamada

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