Kaiju Bunraku is a gorgeously shot, stylised short film by Lucas Leyva and Jillian Mayer told with puppets, the first Mothra film to make it to Sundance. Via Short of the Week:
An unauthorized indie Mothra movie told via Bunraku (traditional Japanese puppetry theatre), I can confidently say Lucas Leyva and Jillian Mayer’s Kaiju Bunraku will be unlike anything you’ve seen before. Looking to tell the story of one of the thousands of anonymous people you see fleeing the monsters in the Godzilla movies, this 13-min short started life as play before morphing into the distinct short it is today.
“My parents grew up in Cuba where it was very difficult, if not impossible, to consume American entertainment”, writer/director Leyva explains. “As a result, they grew up watching lots of Russian and Japanese media. When I got into dinosaurs as a kid, my dad shared his love of Godzilla with me. I wrote the first version of this as a play for a 24 hour theater festival in Miami (it got bad reviews). Years later, I wrote a full length semi-autobiographical Mothra film that takes place in the Cuban countryside and Miami. This short is the prologue.”
Though Kaiju Bunraku is undoubtedly an odd watch, it’s strangely relatable due to its central husband and wife characters. The film may be set in a land where giant monsters can destroy the life of a human with one powerful footstep, but the real drama comes from the conflict between this couple. And with Leyva revealing that with hindsight the film was a way of “working out some residual issues” from his break-up with Mayer, the short was obviously a personal and cathartic process for the filmmaking duo.