The Japanese experimental film movement saw its highest peak in the late 1970s when, under the influence of the works made by their predecessors – such as Toshio Matsumoto's avant-garde documentaries and artistic feature films – a new generation of filmmakers started making films. Many of them were fascinated by the mechanism of the moving image. This programme highlights this specific period in the history of Japanese experimental cinema, taking as landmarks two seminal works: Atman (1975) by Toshio Matsumoto – which manages to create an extraordinary spatiotemporal sensation that only cinema viewing experience can produce – and its best product of influence, Spacy (1981) by Takashi Ito. Almost all the films in this programme – ranging from confusing cinematic kaleidoscopes to roller-coaster animation shorts – have never been digitized and their importance is underestimated both outside and inside Japan. Here is a rare opportunity to view these works in their original 16mm format and question film history.
Atman (Toshio MATSUMOTO, 1975, 16mm, 11')
My Movie Melodies (Jun’ichi OKUYAMA, 1980, 16mm, 6')
Dutchman’s Photograph (Isao KOTA, 1974, 16mm, 7', silent)
Switchback (Nobuhiro KAWANAKA, 1976, 16mm, 9')
Film Display (Shunzo SEO, 1979, 16mm, 5', silent)
Heliography (Hiroshi YAMAZAKI, 1979, 16mm, 6')
WHY (Keiichi TANAAMI, 1975, 16mm, 11')
Hikari (Nobuhiro AIHARA, 1978, 16mm, 3')
Still Movie (Yoichi NAGATA, 1978, 16mm, 3', silent)
Xénogénèse (Akihiko MORISHITA, 1981, 16 mm, 7')
Spacy (Takashi ITO, 1981, 16 mm, 10')
The screening will be introduced by Koyo YAMASHITA, in conversation with Julian ROSS.
Koyo YAMASHITA is the director of Image Forum Festival and the programmer of Theater Image Forum (both in Tokyo). Julian ROSS is a researcher, curator and writer. Recently completing his PhD thesis on 1960s Japanese expanded cinema, he has curated film programmes for Anthology Film Archives (NYC) and EYE (Amsterdam) among others.