2010 has been a great festival year for fans of Asian films considering the number of great festivals dedicated to Asian film (NYAFF, Japan Cuts, Shinsedai, et al.) and Asian films touring the festivals (is Chang-Dong Lee’s multi-award winning Poetry a lock for an Oscar or what?). Last but not least of the latter is the new kid on the block, Zipangu Fest, a new project of Midnight Eye co-founder Jasper Sharp’s. We’ve been reporting on Zipangu for a while (including an audio interview with Jasper himself earlier this year) and we’re now happy to pass on the word that the festival’s full line-up has been announced. Many of the selections (Confessions of a Dog, Yuriko’s Aroma, Live Tape, etc.) were also Shinsedai Cinema Fest selections, so check out VCinema’s coverage of that festival for reviews. Otherwise, if you’re in London, don’t miss out on this festival…and take some pictures for us, OK?
London’s premiere festival devoted to Japanese cinema announces its much anticipated programme for the inaugural Zipangu Fest, to be held at various venues across the East End of London from November 23rd to 28th.
Zipangu Fest begins on Tuesday November 23rd with a special event entitled Nippon Year Zero: Japanese Experimental Film from the 1960s-1970s, presented in collaboration with Close-Up at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. This retrospective programme will introduce audiences to the early Japanese avantgarde filmmaking scene with rare screenings of works by three landmark figures, Donald Richie, Motoharu Jonouchi and Masanori Oe, who captured the zeitgeist they were intrinsically a part of, articulating themselves in ways that range from the poetic to the abrasive.
The festival officially gets underway on Wednesday 24th with the Zipangu Fest Opening Party at Café 1001 on Brick Lane, featuring the UK premiere of Pyuupiru 2001 – 2008, Daishi Matsunaga’s moving documentary charting the physical, psychological and artistic metamorphosis of the flamboyant transgender artist Pyuupiru. The evening will also feature a selection of shorts and a screening of Rackgaki: Japanese Graffiti, a documentary examining Japan’s explosive graffiti scene, and concludes with a set from London’s top Japanese DJ Tomoki Tamura + SUPERMETHOD. Tickets for the whole evening cost £5.
The following evening, on Thursday 25th, Zipangu Fest will continue at Café 1001 with the Live Tape ‘Live’ Night at Café 1001, a music-themed evening that sees the UK premiere of Rock Tanjo: The Movement 70s,a documentary looking at the birth of ‘New Rock’ in 1970s Japan featuring interviews and performances from bands including the Flower Travellin’ Band, and the UK premiere of Live Tape, the award-winning one-take concert film featuring singer-songwriter Kenta Maeno that has been making waves at festivals around the world. Our Special Festival Guest, Live Tape director Tetsuaki Matsue, will be in attendance to introduce his film, which will be followed by a live set by Maeno accompanied by Yuki Yoshida on the Chinese harp. Tickets for the entire evening cost £5.
Friday November 26th sees Zipangu Fest moving to Genesis Cinema in Mile End where our main festival programme begins with Yuriko’s Aroma, Kota Yoshida’s humorous portrait of an aromatherapist besotted by the scent of a sweaty high-schooler, and ends with the UK premiere of Gen Takahashi’s epic Confessions of a Dog, a gripping indictment of corruption within the Japanese police, as the closing film on Sunday 28th November.
Other UK premieres include Annyong Yumika, an innovative documentary homage to legendary Japanese pink film actress Yumika Hayashi who was mysteriously found dead after returning home from her 35th birthday celebrations, and the second title by Zipangu Fest special guest Tetsuaki Matsue; Love & Loathing & Lulu & Ayano, a revealing drama about exploitation and abuse in Japan’s Adult Video industry, directed by the infamous Hisayasu Sato, who will be in attendance to introduce the film; the all new Mutant Girls Squad, from Noboru Iguchi, director of the hits The Machine Girl and RoboGeisha; and Footed Tadpoles, a quirky coming-of-age drama from Tomoya Maeno.
Zipangu Fest is also proud to be presenting a selection of some of the finest in Japanese independent animation. The Zipangu Fest Ero Guro Mash Up Night features three nightmarishly morbid works in the ‘erotic grotesque’ tradition from the underground animators Hiroshi Harada and Naoyuki Niiya, while the Beyond Anime: CALF Animation programme features recent envelope-pushing works from Mirai Mizue, Kei Oyama, Atsushi Wada and TOCHKA.
Also featuring as part of the main programme are the Zipangu Retro screenings of two classic but very different titles rarely shown in the UK, Children of the Beehive (1948) and NN-891102 (1999). Directed by one of the masters of Japanese cinema, Hiroshi Shimizu, Children of the Beehive relates the journey of a group of war orphans (in real life all orphans taken in and raised by the director) as they are taken under the wing of a nameless soldier and set out across a shattered, postwar landscape in search of a more certain future. NN-891102, the debut feature by cult hero Go Shibata, depicts a traumatised Nagasaki survivor’s obsession with recreating the sound of the atomic bomb.
Following the festival, a selection of titles from the programme will be screened at the Arnolfini in Bristol, from Thursday 16th to Sunday 16th December. The Arnolfini programme consists of Annyong Kimchee, Children of the Beehive, Footed Tadpoles, Live Tape, NN-891102, Confessions of a Dog and a selection of shorts.
Full details and descriptions of the films featured in the main festival programme and other events taking place around the main festival dates can be found on the Zipangu Fest website at: