Student short film reflects on life and letting go

“Persimmon” integrates Japanese culture

Feb. 7, 2012 By Jessica Airey

From Jan. 27- Feb. 4, the student short film “Persimmon” showed at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival — an Academy-accredited top tier festival that draws thousands to view some of the best short films in the world. Judges selected “Persimmon”, filmed and produced by a team of 13 Biola Cinema and Media Art students, from 5,703 international entries along with 76 other short films. The winning film is eligible for submission to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for Oscar consideration in the live action short category. The film has also screened at Starz Denver Film Festival and sold out at the American Film Institute in Hollywood.

Although viewers may not have sampled a persimmon, a small, orange fruit that sweetens when dried, they can certainly relate to struggles for control and peace when allowing nature to take its course. This message is poetically woven into “Persimmon.” Shot entirely in Japan by Biola University film students, the film depicts a man waiting for his fruit to dry while caring for an older relative on his deathbed.

The actors use Japanese for all of the dialogue and English subtitles allow viewers to follow the main character Tamotsu as his persimmon hangs, but mysteriously refuses to dry. He simultaneously attempts to keep his elder uncle alive and is forced to come to the terms with the realization that he is losing this battle with nature. Various elements of Japanese culture such as a haiku poem and Taiko drum add to the beautifully crafted storyline. Splashes of orange and teal color the set with deliberate contrast and aesthetic appeal.

Director Dean Yamada, one of Biola’s cinema and media arts professors, has worked overseas with students on four other films since 2007. In 2009, “Jitensha (Bicycle),” another short production, met with great success, winning two awards at the Heartland Film Festival and receiving honors at 11 other film festivals. Yamada believes this program sets Biola’s film students apart with the valuable opportunity to travel around the world and produce quality pictures.

“It’s a unique experience for students to engage cross-culturally,” he said.

Yamada hopes “Persimmon” will increase in popularity and help grow support for future projects. Back in Southern California, Yamada plans for the next international film adventure.

“We’re hoping ‘Persimmon’ can open doors to help Biola make its first feature-length film.”

The program is currently fundraising for another trip to Tokyo set for July 2012, this time to shoot a full 90-minute movie called “Cicada.” “Cicada” would be the first feature-length film Biola will have ever produced and a huge step for the cinema and media arts department.

To find the next screening of “Persimmon,” keep up with its festival results and learn more about how to support this program visit

Watch the “Persimmon” trailer.

Written by Jessica Airey, Media Relations Intern. For more information, contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, at 562.777.4061 or at

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