FIRST SAMURAI IN NEW YORK
WRITTEN, DIRECTED, PRODUCED, EDITED by JUSTIN AMBROSINO
In the late 1800s, Chiyo Naito, trained as a samurai by her late father, immigrates with her widowed mother and siblings from Japan to New York, in search of a better life… but she finds racism and violence instead.
Tasked with telling a story with ‘violence’ at its core, I decided to explore the theme that maybe violence is never ending, that even self-defense can give rise to revenge. It’s a sickening feeling to imagine the possibility that whether we stand and fight or run away, we might never be able to escape the vicious cycle.
In terms of filmmaking style, I tried to imagine how Akira Kurosawa might have handled the material about the first Japanese immigrants to come to America. Kurosawa confidently mixed realism with the cinematic, so I thought this film could feel like a bridge between a samurai epic, a western and a New York movie.
Starring Maho Honda, Gabe Fazio and Mike Houston, this short was designed to be a teaser for a longer project, executive produced by Y.K. Well Enterprise and TATE Hatoryu NY in association with Fuzz on the Lens. As a teaser, the challenge was to make a film that was ‘open ended’ but also felt complete. My focus was making the theme clear in the final moments to give a sense of revelation.
FIRST SAMURAI IN NEW YORK was filmed with an Arri-Alexa over the course of 3 days at Historic Richmond Town, Staten Island.
TWIN CITIES FILM FESTIVAL – Minnesota, 2019
FARCUME FARO FILM FESTIVAL – Portugal, 2018
KADOMA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – Japan, 2018
MOVIEVALLEY BAZZACINEMA FILM FESTIVAL – Italy, 2018
LA SHORTS FESTIVAL – Los Angeles, 2018
NY SHORTS FESTIVAL – New York, 2018
ACTION ON FILM FESTIVAL – Las Vegas, 2018
NY JAPAN CINEFEST – New York, 2018