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This article was written By Jagoda Murczynska on 29 Aug 2017, and is filed under Features.

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About Jagoda Murczynska

Jagoda Murczynska is a film critic specialising in Japanese cinema and a programmer of Five Flavours Asian Film Festival in Warsaw.

Preview – Roman Porno Reboot at the 11th Five Flavours Asian Film Festival, November 15-22

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The Japanese experimental erotic cinema which flourished in the 70s and 80s is back and ready to provoke again. The legendary Nikkatsu Studio is making their Roman Porno comeback with the best contemporary independent filmmakers on board.

When the television effectively pulled the Japanese audiences out of movie theaters in the 1970s, many film studios found themselves on the verge of bankruptcy. The only hope for them was to switch to a steamy content for adults only. The production of soft pornography bloomed – the so-called “pink films,” the pinku eiga, ended up on the must-do lists of the majority of big film companies.

The Nikkatsu cult series, Roman Porno, was a special treat on the market. The label aimed to create a high quality erotic movies with strong artistic values but still following the rules of the genre: sex or nudity scenes every 10 minutes, cheap and fast production process and a fancy and catchy title. Roman Porno has become a training ground for young filmmakers, ready to experiment and break filmmaking boundaries. Obligatory sex scenes were often embellished with extraordinary visuals, subtle (or not so much) political content, disturbing visions and extravagant editing.

The golden times of softcore movies distributed in cinema theatres ended with VHS and online porn era, but as the traditional audience evaporated, a new wave of cinephile interest in the genre started to rise. Rare, kinky, excessive pinku was a perfect stock for new generations of explorers and festivalgoers, always on the lookout for bizarre and exciting content.

The 45th anniversary of the launch of Roman Porno series became a great opportunity for the renewal of the genre: in 2016 Nikkatsu invited five stars of independent cinema to reinvent soft-core for contemporary audience. The basic rules remained unchanged, but the studio decided to address the new series to a young public, taking into serious consideration the female viewers as well. The results are thrilling. Against the backdrop of “polite” Japanese mainstream cinema Roman Porno yet again proved to be an interesting way not only to excite, but also to show contemporary society in a unique way.

Last year, Five Flavours hosted the Polish premiere of the first film of the series, Anti-Porno, by Sion Sono. The program of the 11th edition of the festival will showcase two of the latest titles from the Roman Porno Reboot along with two classic films which were a direct inspiration for them.

Night of the Felines (Dir. Noboru Tanaka, 1972) 

Frivolous, candy-coloured sex-comedy with a melancholic backdrop. Rock-and-roll and jazzy rhythms are guiding the viewer through the vivid world of the 70s, into the stories of women working in the bathhouse converted into a public house. The film shows a kaleidoscope of extravagant client’s cravings as well as the prose of life in the erotic industry. But its true subject is the deep, sisterly bond between three heroines.

Dawn of the Felines (Dir. Kazuya Shiraishi, 2017) 

Neons of Tokyo, cramped rooms of nightclubs and a panorama of male fantasies depicted from the perspective of three women working in the erotic industry. Captivating images of bursting city, brilliant psychological study of emotions and an up-front diagnosis of the Japanese society in the Internet dating era.

Lovers are Wet (Dir. Tatsumi Kumashiro, 1973) 

One of the most acknowledged titles from the Roman Porno archives: a powerful story of an impulsive loner who returns to his hometown hiding a dark secret. A violent and disturbing study of frustration, loneliness and intricate erotic relationships captured in mesmerising shots that have become an important iconic input to the history of Japanese cinema.

Wet Woman in the Wind (Dir. Akihiko Shiota, 2016) 

An attractive playwright renounces all relationships with women and tries to withdraw into solitude. That’s not an easy task, as he is spotted on his way by a provocative, unpredictable girl, determined to undermine his pledges. A hunter becomes a prey, gender roles are shifted and breasts are exposed. The director teases the audience with quirky plot twists and skillfully plays with the genre conventions, creating a vivid, ironic and truly steamy tragicomedy.

The 11th edition of the Five Flavours Asian Film Festival takes place from November 15-22 in Warsaw. Festival passes can be bought here.

Organizer: Arteria Art Foundation

Partners: City of Warsaw, The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Polish Film Institute, Japan Foundation, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Berlin, Asian Film Awards Academy.

 

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