Toshio Hirano is a middle-aged, Japanese, bluegrass musician living and playing in San Francisco. Nico Calabria is a young, handicap boy of thirteen who has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money to send wheelchairs to people in Tanzania. Hirano and Calabria are two of the main characters in the Reel Creative Short Films category that will screen this Friday during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Oscar Bucher, director of Waiting for a Train and Santa Barbara native described Hirano as “dynamic” and “full of life.” Bucher’s film tells the story of Hirano’s life journey from Japan to Appalachia, through Texas, and eventually to San Francisco. The guitar-playing singer, who often plays in a trio with an upright bass player and fiddler, inspires American audiences to listen to and appreciate the music of Jimmie Rogers and Hank Williams.

“The fact that he is Japanese is irrelevant,” Bucher said. “When he starts playing and singing, the novelty fades away and the audience listens to his music that has brought joy and passion to his life for 30 years.” Waiting for a Train, the title of the film and one song by Jimmie Rogers that Hirano loves runs as the theme for the film, both stylistically and through Hirano’s life philosophy.

Bucher’s film and the three other films in the Reel Creative Short category showcase the ambitions of Hirano and many others in ways that allow the audience to enter the characters’ lives for a brief yet resounding moment.

The Reel Creative Short Films include, Ocsar Bucher’s Waiting for a Train, Steve Audette’s Nico’s Challenge, Neil Leifer’s Dark Light: The Art of Blind Photographers, and Shira Avni’s Tying Your Own Shoes. The first showing will be this Friday, February 5 at 10:00 a.m. at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.


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