23rd Annual Minneapolis - St. Paul International Film Festival



Smoke and Mirrors: A Geisha Story (Non-fiction Features)
2004 - USA - 63 minutes

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DIRECTOR: Artemis Willis
CAST: Kiharu Nakamura, Artemis Willis

This chronicle of the symbiotic relationship between Kiharu Nakamura, an 88-year-old former geisha living in Queens, and Artemis Willis, a young Brooklyn filmmaker, shows two women instantly struck by the muse. Ms. Nakamura offers herself as a subject, and Willis films in earnest. As Ms. Nakamura's tale unfolds, the film questions the veracity of her story and travels to Japan to explore her past. Willis' attempt to demystify her subject weaves a broad tapestry, transforming into a meditation on the fox-like nature of reinvention and a celebration of self-creation. Did Nakamura really entertain Charlie Chaplin, Babe Ruth, and Jean Cocteau? She claims she did, and there’s no real reason to argue. Willis explores the history of geishas to get at issues of war and memory, identity, and cross-cultural connections. Ms. Nakamura passed away before Willis completed the film, so this may be her most lasting legacy. Featuring cinematography by documentary veteran Albert Maysles and an original score by double-bass legend Ron Carter. Artemis Willis has worked in feature and commercial production with Michael Apted and Ed Zwick, among others. Her credits also include work with the Opera Company of Boston. She is the Vice President of the New York Film and Video Council. Smoke and Mirrors is her first film. –Emily Condon

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Albert Maysles
MUSIC: Ron Carter
Director Present!
PRINT SOURCE: Artemis Willis

Sunday, April 10 3:30pm 2
Monday, April 11 7:15pm 2


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