Zipangu Film Festival

Following on from the ICA’s Korean Film Festival will be the Zipangu Film festival show-casing a mix of recent Japanese films, documentaries, short films and experimental anime from legendary directors to new talents and even foreigners. Of all the titles on offer the only one vaguely familiar to me is Shirome which looks like a hoot. The festival will run from the 18th to the 24th of November. For more information visit the site!

Shirome

Blair Witch meets Morning Musume (or is that reference too old? AKB48 perhaps?) where the director, Kôji Shiraishi, stars in his own film as the director of a supernatural reality TV show who offers J-pop idol band Momoiro Clover the chance of appearing on NHK TV’s annual Kôhaku New Year’s Eve music show. What’s the catch? They are to perform their latest single in a haunted school where Shirome (white 白eyes 目), a ghost who can grant wishes and make people go insane if their wishes are insincere stalks the corridors. The stage is set for a lot of screaming and shaky camera.

Dir. Koji Shiraishi

Cast: Momoiro Clover (Kanako Momota, Ayaka Sasaki, Akari Hayami, Momoka Ariyasu, Reni Takagi, Shiori Tamai), Koji Shiraishi

The screening will take place on the 18th of November at 8:45pm.

KanZeOn

This film explores the use of sound and its place in ritual. Filmed in Kyushu, the film looks at, and more importantly listens to, three very special Japanese musicans: Akinobu Tatsumi, the young Buddhist priest and custodian of a temple outside of Kumamoto City who moonlights as a hip-hop DJ while indulges his love of beat boxing in the remote forests; Eri Fujii, who has devoted her life to the mastery of the sho, a rare and ancient Chinese bamboo wind instrument evoking the cry of the phoenix, and Akihiro Iitomi, a master of Noh theatre and a kotsuzumi drum player whose love of jazz almost matches that of his passion for Japan’s traditional performing arts.

This will be followed by a party named KanZeOn ReIndications which makes remixes from footage in KanZeOn and a group of artists are being flown in from Japan to take part in the launch party of KanZeOn itself.

The screening will take place on the 18th of November at 6:30pm.

Hiroshima Nagasaki Download + The Student Wrestler

Two short documentaries examining two different subjects.

Hiroshima Nagasaki Download was directed by Shinpei Takeda and he follows two college friends who go on a trip down the west coast of the US in order to collect together the views of survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. Each survivor delivers their accounts of the events and their memories which begins to affect the two friends but the support and gratitude of the subjects gives them the strength to move on.

The Student Wrestler deals is a revealing documentary portrait of the homosocial world of a university wrestling club and its leading light Tominaga, a young man more interested in hanging out with his mates than graduating.

The screening will take place on the 19th of November at 1:45pm.

Lucky Dragon No. 5

This film is from Kaneto Shindô, screenwriter and director of many classics including Onibaba and Kuroneko but there’s no supernatural element to this horror story. Lucy Dragon No. 5 is a docudrama covering how a crew of 23 fishermen were exposed to radioactive fallout following U.S. hydrogen bomb testing near Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Island on the 1st of March 1954 and the subsequent events from that incident.

Two screenings will take place, one on the 19th of November at 3:00pm, the second on the 20th of November at 2:00pm.

The Ghost Cat and the Mysterious Shamisen

Kiyohiko Ushihara (1897-1985), one of Japan’s leading directors of the silent period, is relatively unknown in the west but The Ghost Cat and the Mysterious Shamisen gets a rare screening. This is, an early chiller especially subtitled for Zipangu Fest, and a rare chance to experience one of Japan’s few surviving prewar horrors, a genre that was soon to be suppressed by the increasing state censorship of the wartime years. A quintessential example of the period “ghost cat” (bakeneko or kaibyo) movie, the movie follows Mitsue, the possessive onna-kabuki actress betrothed to apprentice shamisen player Seijiro. When one day Okiyo, a beautiful young girl of samurai class, is led to Seijiro’s house by his lost cat Kuro, she becomes besotted with him. Dark jealous passions are invoked in Mitsue, which are intensified when Seijiro gifts Okiyo his precious shamisen. The cat is the first to suffer at the end of Mitsue’s hairpin, but returns from the grave to assist Okiyo’s younger sister Onui avenge her sister’s murder.

Two screenings will take place, one on the 20th of November at 3:00pm and the 24th of November at 8:45p.

We Don’t Care About Music Anyway

A film which examines music and the various ways it can be created and what it can express, directors Dupire and Gaspard Kuentz’s film documents contemporary Japan’s avant-garde music scene. With interviews, discussions and live performances from the  like of turn-table experimenter Yoshihide Otomo, Hiromichi Sakamoto and his aggressive cello playing and noise-jams on the beach by Umi No Yeah Orchestra, the documentary records the cacophonic acts that explore the limits of music by blurring the borderline between noise and music, sound and dissonance.

The screening will take place on the 20th of November at 5:00pm.

Rokkasho Rhapsody

Documentary filmmaker and media activist Hitomi Kamanaka has a trilogy of films dealing with the issue of nuclear power. This is the second instalment in the trilogy and it observes protests surrounding the construction of Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant for the recycling of spent nuclear fuel. While examining the arguments she gathers together a range of opinions and contrasts that situation with the Sellafield, in the north of England.

There is one screening on the 23rd of November at 6:15pm.

Ashes to Honey

The final part of documentary filmmaker and media activist Hitomi Kamanaka’s trilogy of films observing the inhabitants of the island of Iwaishima and their twenty-eight year struggle against the construction of a nuclear power plant on their island. The islanders’ endeavours are juxtaposed with the Swedish public’s desire for the use of sustainable energy sources that have led to the possibilities of eco-friendly lifestyle choices since 1980. Quite timely considering recent events.

There are two screenings, the first on the 20th of November at 7:00pm and the second on the 24th of November at 6:15pm.

There will also be two nights dedicated to experimental anime which I’ll post about next week. I’ll start collecting indie anime short films as well.

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