Zipangu Fest: Japanese Film Festival in the UK
Festival of Nuclear Reactions, Retro, Anime and Horror Kicks Off November 18th in London
Source: Zipangu Fest, Third Window Film press releases
Official Site: zipangufest.com
The second Zipangu Fest— celebrating the best of cutting edge and avant garde Japanese cinema— will be held at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and Café Oto from November 18th to 24th, before moving to venues around the UK. The festival will showcase a selection of Japan’s finest features, documentaries, shorts, animation and experimental films… most of which have never been seen before in the UK and this festival will probably be the only chance to see them in the near future.
In the aftermath of this year’s tragedy in north-eastern Japan, the issues surrounding nuclear energy have resurfaced and Zipangu Fest will show two documentaries on the subject. Hitomi Kamanaka’s ASHES TO HONEY (ミツバチの羽音と地球の回転, Mitsu-bachi no Haoto to Chikyuu no Kaiten, 2010) and ROKKASHO RHAPSODY (六ヶ所村 ラプソディー, Rokkasho-mura Rapusodii, 2006) will be screened as part of the festival’s Nuclear Reactions programme, along with HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI DOWNLOAD (ヒロシマナガサキ ダウンロード, 2009)— a documentary road trip in which two college friends interview atomic bomb survivors living in North America.
On the same theme, Zipangu Fest is proud to present a rare screening of the 1959 docudrama LUCKY DRAGON NO. 5 (第五福龍丸, Daigo Fukuryuu Maru, 1959). Directed by one of post-war Japan’s most important independent film makers, Kaneto Shindō, the film tells the story of the Bikini Atoll hydrogen bomb catastrophe that exposed a Japanese fishing boat crew to radioactive fallout. While this incident gave rise to Japan’s famous movie monster Godzilla, fewer people know about Shindō’s treatment of it.
Another rare screening in the form of a 1930s ghost story, THE GHOST CAT AND THE MYSTERIOUS SHAMISEN (怪猫謎の三味線, Kaibyoo Nazo no Shamisen, 1938), will form part of the Zipangu Retro section. Subtitled especially for Zipangu Fest and never seen before in the UK, this 1938 gem is one of Japan’s few surviving pre-war horror films.
J-Horror meets J-pop in SHIROME (シロメ, 2010), a mockumentary that involves director Koji Shiraishi luring pre-pubescent idol band Momoiro Clover into a supposedly haunted abandoned school— the result lies somewhere between THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and the X-FACTOR. SHIROME is part of the previously announced Sounds of Zipangu section, which will open the festival with the stunning new film KanZeOn (2011).
A fictional companion piece to KanZeOn, ABRAXAS (アブラクサスの祭, Aburakusasu no Matsuri, 2010) tells the story of a punk musician turned Buddhist monk and it was a surprise hit at the 2011 Sundance Festival.
Zipangu Fest’s Beyond Anime: The Outer Limits programme will present some of the most interesting Japanese indie animations from recent years. And experimental films by Takashi Makino and others will be showcased at the ICA and at a benefit night at Dalston’s Café Oto. which includes the screening of landmark surreal animation CAT SOUP (ねこぢる草, Nekojiru-so, 2001), to be soundtracked live by premier noise-rock band Bo Ningen.
Festival director and head programmer, Jasper Sharp, comments: “This year’s festival presents a really interesting mix of old and new. I think it is a far more robust line-up than anything I’ve been involved in before, with all of the films linked by a tone or a theme that I think will really have audiences coming away thinking about Japanese cinema in a different way.”
About Zipangu Fest
The first UK-wide festival devoted to Japanese film, Zipangu Fest aims to demonstrate the many identities of Japan by introducing works new and old by some of the country’s most exciting and revered talents. Last year’s inaugural festival took place at various venues around London’s East End before traveling to regional events in Bristol, Leeds, Coventry, Nottingham and Newcastle in the UK, and further afield to Tallinn in Estonia.
About Jasper Sharp
Jasper Sharp is a writer and curator based in the UK. He co-edits the web site Midnight Eye, the premier English language resource on Japanese cinema, which he founded with Tom Mes in 2001. He is a regular visitor to Japan, having lived in Tokyo between 2001 and 2005, where he co-authored the Midnight Eye Guide to Japanese Film (Stonebridge Press, 2004). His critically acclaimed study of the Japanese pink film industry Behind the Pink Curtain, was published by FAB Press in 2008, while his latest work, The Historical Dictionary of Japanese Cinema will be published by Scarecrow Press later in 2011.
His writing has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines across the world. He has curated a number of high-profile seasons and retrospectives at the British Film Institute, the Deutsches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt, as well as Austin Fantastic Fest, Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival, Wroclaw’s New Horizons Festival, and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. He is the co-founder, with Chris MaGee, of the Shinsedai New Generation Japanese Cinema Festival in Toronto.