Private Project


Masa hires rental actress and aspiring dancer, Kanako, to pose as his fiancee to impress his estranged, terminally-ill father. But as his father's death delays, Masa is forced to confront the spiraling web of lies and to learn to follow his heart.

  • Kenjo McCurtain
    Automation, The Widow, Transmission
  • Kenjo McCurtain
    Automation, The Widow, Transmission
  • Kenjo McCurtain
    Automation, The Widow, Transmission
  • Humphrey Morgan
  • Takashi Kawaguchi
    Key Cast
    Bad Poetry Tokyo
  • Yuki Morikawa
    Key Cast
    "Kanako / Sumire"
  • Kenjo McCurtain
    Automation, The Widow, Transmission
  • Emanuel AG
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    夢見人 (Yume Mi Bito)
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Romance, Drama, Musical
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 40 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 31, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    48,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Riverrun Film Festival
    United States
    May 11, 2021
    World Premiere
    RE:Vision Independent Feature Competition
  • Bucharest Film Awards

    Official Selection
  • 2021 Piermont Film Festival
    Piermont, New York
    United States
    June 11, 2021
    New York Premiere
    Best of Festival - Feature Comedy or Musical
  • Seattle Film Festival
    Seattle, Washington
    United States
    July 8, 2021
    Best Feature Nominee
  • Footcandle Film Festival

    United States
    Official Selection
  • Sacramento International Film Festival
    United States
    California Premiere
    Official Selection
  • New York Indie Cine Fest
    New York
    United States
    August 14, 2021
    Official Selection
  • Västerås Filmfestival
    October 24, 2021
    European Premiere
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Kenjo McCurtain

Kenjo McCurtain is an award-winning filmmaker who moved to Japan to pursue his craft after graduating with a BA in Film Studies in the UK, where his work was screened at the university's annual film festival.
Kenjo has written and directed four short films. Make-Believers (2020), a Japanese romantic musical is his feature film debut as director. Kenjo is a Kyoto Filmmakers' Lab alumni and bilingual in English and Japanese.
‘Necropolis’ (2014): selected for the Fukuoka Independent Short Film Festival and ranked in Yahoo's top ten videos online thereafter;
‘Automation’ (2017) winner of Best Director and Best Actor at the English Riviera Film Festival, Official Selection at Bali International Film Festival and Hollywood Verge Awards;
‘Yamome’ (2018) winner of the Independent World Best Short Film Award at Mt. Fuji Atami Film Festival, Best Actress and Best Drama Short at Genre Celebration Film Festival, the 2019 Shorties Film Festival Best Editing and Best Film winner, and Official Selection for various film festivals worldwide;
‘Transmission’ (2019) a genre effort - is a psychological-horror short adapted from a short story by H.P. Lovecraft and updated to modern day Japan.
'Make-Believers' (2021) a feature romantic musical-drama, World Premiered at the 2021 RiverRun International Film Festival in May 2021 as part of the RE:Vision Independent Feature Competition; featured as Official Selection for Bucharest Film Awards, Sacramento International Film Festival, Footcandle Film Festival, Seattle Film Festival and winner of Best of Festival - Feature Comedy or Musical award at Piermont Film Festival in New York.

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Director Statement

There are two sides to Make-Believers. The intention first and foremost was to create a character-driven drama, and for the situations and characters to be representative of real people in today's Japan, especially the young. We have a single thirty-something male protagonist, and a single, female protagonist whose profession involves becoming a fake friend or family member to the lonely. Both of these characters are somewhat lost and suffering their own form of identity-crisis. Whether consciously or unconsciously, they'd sooner inhabit other identities, put on a front, or default to lies rather than face reality.
While writing the script, music began playing a very important role both within the story and also during the writing. While writing I was listening to a lot of piano covers of famous oldies - the tone was always alternating between sweetness and melancholy. The sequences and the script as a whole were beginning to take on an old-fashioned, wistful vibe and over time, went through many, many iterations. As the plot developed, the music began to take on a functional role alongside an aesthetic one. It became clear it could be a device through which the characters could express what they actually thought and felt; the one time where they could open up to themselves and the audience. And gradually in the writing process, Make-Believers began to take form as a Musical as well.
Musicals sequences should be dreamlike and other-worldly and that affords and forces ample room for style and creativity. We made an attempt at old-Hollywood style cranes and dollies, bright colors with the costumes and decor, and expressionistic lighting. We were even given a free wet-down on our exterior nighttime dance shoot with a sudden, brief downpour - an absolute godsend for a musical shot on a limited budget.
Overall, with the musical side to the film, our modest drama, about these ordinary, vulnerable people and their small stories could suddenly, at the drop of a note, turn into something grand and cinematic. It was a chance to marry the reality of modern-day Japan, with the dream world; with 'make-believe'.