Fine and Doki-Doki

Both Films to Premiere on “Independent Lens,” ITVS's Emmy Award-winning Series on PBS Hosted By Susan Sarandon Tuesday, December 21, 2004 at 10:00 P.M. (check local listings)

Michael Downing's “FINE” Is Student Academy Award WinnerFollowed By:Chris Eska's “DOKI-DOKI” Examines Emotional Life of Toyko Commuters

Contact: Mary Lugo 770/623-8190 Cara White 843/881-1480 Randall Cole 415/356-8383 Wilson Ling415/ 

Program companion websites: & 

San Francisco, CA)—Independent Lens presents a double-bill of two half-hour fiction films that provide a glimpse into the emotional lives of the characters they portray. From the lonely life of a factory worker who feels trapped by his humdrum existence to the secret lives of Tokyo commuters, the films will be broadcast on Independent Lens on Tuesday, December 21, 2004 at 10:00 P.M. (check local listings). 

Michael Downing and Phillip Svoboda's FINE won a 2003 Student Academy Award. The film follows a day in the life of Ed, a factory worker living in the suburbs with his wife and small child. During a lunch break at the plant, a younger co-worker asks Ed advice on whether or not to marry. His pressing question causes Ed to re-examine his own decisions and his current life as a husband, father and suburbanite. 

Set in suburban Tokyo, Chris Eska's DOKI-DOKI offers a peek into the lives of intimate strangers. Imagine sitting next to the same people on a commuter train every day for years without even knowing their names. Who are they? Where do they live? What are their dreams, fears, and passions? For Yumi, the inquisitive young heroine of DOKI-DOKI, these questions about her fellow train passengers create far too much mystery. Considering herself somewhat of a detective, Yumi decides to discover who these people are and why fate brought them together. Of particular interest is Yosuke, a serious young man who attended the same preschool as Yumi, but apparently no longer recognizes her. After a chain of events disrupts the normal commute, Yumi takes the opportunity to secretly follow Yosuke through the streets of Tokyo. But before she leaves the train, Yumi shares a moment of connection with the shy and awkward schoolgirl, Makiko. While Yumi discovers more about Yosuke, Makiko struggles to relate to her classmates and family. As evening comes, the three characters' lives intersect in a swirling climax of emotion. 

FINE is presented by the American Film Institute. 

The companion websites for FINE and DOKI-DOKI feature detailed information about the films, including exclusive filmmaker Q&A interviews, filmmaker and cast bios and Learn More links and resources pertaining to the films' subject matter. The sites will also feature video previews and a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions. 

FINE Credits 

Writer/Director: Michael Downing Producer: Phillip Svoboda Director of Photography: Ivan Grbovic Original Music: Ron Sures Casting:Chadwick Struck/John Buchan Editor:Bernat Aragones Ed:Jamie Mcshane Brad:Denny Lee Kirkwood Wife:Kaela Dobkin Co-worker:Frank Crimm 


Credits Director: Chris Eska Producer: Megumi Kano Producer: Aya Mitsuhashi Director of Photography: Yasu Tanida Yumi: Yumi Endo Yosuke:Hayato Sugano Makiko: Sae Takenaka Narrator: Haruki Iwakiri 

About the Filmmakers 

Michael Downing (FINE) was originally involved in theater where he was a performer and director. His interest in multimedia productions led him to filmmaking. He was accepted into the American Film Institute directing program in 2001 and upon graduating won the 2003 Student Film Academy Award for the short film FINE, which he wrote and directed. Subsequently Downing created two other short films: Clean-Rite Cowboy and Why Don't You Dance? Both were nominated for Genies and screened at festivals internationally including the Toronto International Film Festival, Claremont Ferrand International Short Film Fest, Palm Springs International Film Festival and many others. Downing's interest in storytelling and performance led him to directing television commercials. He is now represented by Radke films and is this year's recipient of the Saatchi and Saatchi first cut award for new commercial director. Downing is currently developing a number of feature films in both Canada and the United States. 

Chris Eska (DOKI-DOKI) was raised in Ottine, Texas. He studied sociology and art at Rice University before attending UCLA's MFA film directing program. His short films have screened on PBS, at the Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmakers' Competition, the DGA Theater in Los Angeles, the Texas Filmmaker's Showcase, and at numerous film festivals. 

After taking a one-year leave of absence from UCLA to backpack across India and Asia, Eska returned to Japan to produce DOKI-DOKI, his master's thesis film. DOKI-DOKI won the UCLA Spotlight Award, Honorable Mention at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival, Finalist at the Ozu Film Festival of Japan and has screened at film festivals around the world. 

About Independent Lens 

Independent Lens is an Emmy Award-winning weekly series airing Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. on PBS. Hosted by Susan Sarandon, the acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about a unique individual, community or moment in history, which prompted Nancy Franklin to write in The New Yorker: “Watching Independent Lens... is like going into an independent bookstore—you don't always find what you were looking for but you often find something you didn't even know you wanted.” Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites, and national publicity and community outreach campaigns. Further information about the series is available at 

Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS, and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

About ITVS 

Independent Television Service (ITVS) funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web and the Emmy Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10 P.M. on PBS. ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing TV audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. More information about ITVS can be obtained by visiting ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American People. 

About PBS 

PBS is a private, nonprofit media enterprise that serves the nation's 349 public noncommercial television stations, reaching nearly 90 million people each week. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is the leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of educational services for adult learners. PBS' premier kids' TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (, continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at, the leading dot-org Web site on the Internet. PBS is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.

Posted on November 1, 2004