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For my sixth and final screening of Japan Cuts 2019, I saw NIGHT CRUISING, a documentary that depicts a blind man’s attempt at directing a short movie. Although musician Hideyuki Kato was born without sight, he certainly doesn’t lack creative vision; indeed, his greatest struggle lies in finding a common language that will bridge the gap between how he and his collaborators (including actors, concept artists, animators, costume designers, and camera operators) perceive the world—describing such seemingly inconsequential details as the color of a jacket or a character’s facial expression, for instance, presents a substantial challenge. Fortunately, every obstacle is quickly and cleverly surmounted; a simple cardboard frame and a handful of action figures, for example, enable Kato to show his cinematographer precisely how each shot should be composed. The result is an absolutely fascinating behind-the-scenes story that reinforces the oft-overlooked fact that filmmaking is, at the end of the day, a community effort.

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