Japanese Director of Cult Film HOUSE Visits LA for U.S. Retrospective!
Rarely Screened Movies by Nobuhiko Obayashi
Source: The Cinefamily press release
Event Site: cinefamily.org/nobuhiko-obayashi-schoolgirls-in-the-crosshairs
Special Thanks to Brendt Rioux, Marc Walkow and Miho Shimizu
The Cinefamily has partnered with The Japan Foundation and the Japan Film Festival Los Angeles to bring the director of psychedelic kids’ horror mind-melter HOUSE (Hausu) to Los Angeles for the first major U.S. retrospective of his singular works — NOBUHIKO OBAYASHI: SCHOOLGIRLS IN THE CROSSHAIRS. Throughout the month of May, The Cinefamily will show 35mm prints of several of Obayashi distinct genre of “supernatural schoolgirl” movies, most of which have never screened in the U.S. before, with themed parties, and Q&As with the director.
On May 9th the Cinefamily will welcome the director for “An Evening with Nobuhiko Obayashi” — a long-form discussion covering his early career as an experimental filmmaker, his work in the fast-paced world of the Japanese ad industry, and and his successful years as the sci-fi/fantasy “John Hughes” of Japan, making successful teen genre films throughout the 80s.
The SCHOOLGIRLS retrospective contains insanely rare screenings throughout the month of May, the never released on DVD, Cthulu-for-kids manga adaptation THE DRIFTING CLASSROOM (5/11 and 5/17), the eye-popping SCHOOL IN THE CROSSHAIRS (5/18 and 5/23) and a 30th anniversary screening of his hit THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME (5/25 and 5/26).
By exposing Hollywood audiences to these films — long enjoyed by Japanese audiences, but seldom screened in the U.S. — the Cinefamily hopes to extend the influence of Obayashi and Japanese cinema at large to the people of Los Angeles with a premiere opportunity for education as well as entertainment.
“We are thrilled to bring a retrospective of Obayashi’s work to the people of Los Angeles,” says Cinefamily Executive Director Hadrian Belove. “While die-hard film buffs know the incredible piece of psychedelic horror filmmaking that is HOUSE, most don’t realize Obayashi made many other equally amazing films in his long and successful career.”
Nobuhiko Obayashi was born on January 9, 1938 in the city of Onomichi, Japan. Through his childhood and adolescence Obayashi followed many artistic pursuits including drawing, writing, playing the piano, and a growing interest in animation and film. In 1956 he was accepted to the liberal arts department of Seijo University where he began to work with 8 and 16mm film. Obayashi began working on a series of experimental films, which would develop the tone of Japanese experimental cinema through the 1960s. In these early experimental films Obayashi employed a number of avant-garde techniques that he would carry into his later mainstream work. Obayashi began directing feature films starting in 1977 with the horror comedy HOUSE. The film employed a mixture of trick photography and avant-garde techniques to achieve its distinctive, surreal visuals. Through the 1980s and onwards he continued to make feature films and broadened his mainstream appeal.
“I asked my daughter, ‘If I could shoot movies, what movie do you want me to shoot?’ She gave me some of the ideas for HOUSE,” says director Nobuhiko Obayashi. “I wrote the ideas on a piece of paper, and gave it to the staff at Toho. The idea went through right away, but they couldn’t find anyone to do it. The directors at Toho thought it was too absurd.”
Eventually, Obayashi was allowed to direct the film himself. The rest is history.
NOBUHIKO OBAYASHI: SCHOOLGIRLS IN THE CROSSHAIRS
611 N Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
HOUSE (ハウス, Hausu)
Dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977, 35mm, 88 min.
A delirious pop-horror fantasy from one of Japan’s foremost cult filmmakers, HOUSE could be the most legendary horror film you’ve never seen. Former experimental filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi twists ghost story expectations inside-out by utilizing a multi-colored candy-coated visual style that pulls equally from TV commercials, soap operas and the avant-garde. The plot, such as it is, follows Oshare (Kimiko Ikegami) and six schoolgirls as they take an ill-advised summer trip to visit her spinster aunt. Obayashi uses the thin story to cram in as many dazzling experimental effects as the human retina can absorb. Humans turn into piles of bananas, pianos devour their players, animated demons spew blood and appendages — HOUSE is a gleeful melee that smashes genres together with more force than the Hadron Collider!
SCHOOL IN THE CROSSHAIRS (ねらわれた学園, Gakuen to Nerawareru)
Dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1981, 35mm, 90min.
SCHOOL IN THE CROSSHAIRS is the psychedlic-infused tale of a gifted high school student and her battle against invading Venusians. It opens: “This story is about a small, very small, planet in the universe called Earth. On it lives a very small young girl, her broad chest harbors a story…” Overachiever Yuka Mitamura (Hiroko Yakushimaru) is at the top of her experimental institution’s class when her strange and undefined powers manifest themselves. Otherworldly visitors arrive to turn her school’s residents into militaristic zombies and it’s up to Yuka and her kendo stick-wielding boyfriend to save the universe. All of Obayashi’s lo-tech wizardry and non sequitor humor is on display in this completely unpredictable film that may outdo HOUSE in pure filmmaking insanity. There’s an improptu musical number, an endlessly hilarious villain, and a climax that may be the craziest sequence ever put on film.
THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME (時をかける少女, Toki o Kakeru Shojo)
Dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1983, 35mm, 104 min.
Showing a more sensitive (yet no less wildly inventive) side of his creative persona, Nobuhiko Obayashi brings forth this teenage time travel tale — one that plays out as if Charlie Kaufman and Philip K. Dick had collaborated on a gentle tale of adolescent female angst sung to the tune of GROUNDHOG DAY. One of the many adaptations of the popular Japanese sci-fi source novel across the fields of manga, live-action and animation, the film stars ‘80s teen idol Tomoyo Harada as a quiet schoolgirl mysteriously entangled in a Moebius strip of temporal love triangle wonkiness. Working in a more restrained vein than the balls-to-the-wall, non-stop freakout mode of HOUSE, Obayashi nevertheless weaves in a sizable amount of experimental film technique, optical printing and Magritte-like conceptual imagery — delivering a satisfying dose of impossible-to-categorize entertainment in the process. And don’t forget to stick around through to the closing of the end credits!
THE DRIFTING CLASSROOM (漂流教室, Hyoryu Kyoshitsu)
Dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1987, digital presentation, 104 min.
Never released on DVD — even in Japan! For the lucky ducks reading this who’ve seen Nobuhiko Obayashi’s masterpiece HOUSE, you know that the man knows how to make a crazy movie. The normal language of film you’re accustomed to is left for dead, with virtually every aesthetic choice being completely hypnotic and magical. Loooosely based on the manga by visionary Kazuo Umezu (Cat Eyed Boy), THE DRIFTING CLASSROOM’s “international high school” is populated by a ragtag team of Annie-esque English-speaking kids of all stripes. During an impromptu jam session of “Here Comes The Bride”(?!), a tornado hurls the entire school into an alternate dimension time-slip — and as the baffled students and faculty (led by ‘50s teen idol Troy Donahue) navigate through a desert wasteland, giant bugs tear through the children like twigs, a gripping madness immediately sets in with the children, and hell breaks loose at every turn! With an impossible NEVERENDING STORY-meets-TWILIGHT ZONE vibe, the fantastic and the bleak blend together beautifully with this baby; this one is so face-melting your head will be a panini by the time it’s over.
CASTING BLOSSOMS TO THE SKY (この空の花 -長岡花火物語, Kono Sora no Hana – Nagaoka Hanabi Monogatari）
Dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi, 2012, Presented by Japan Film Festival Los Angeles. LOCATION: Miyako Hybrid Hotel, 21381 S. Western Avenue, Torrance, CA, 90501.
A reporter for the local paper in Amakusa, Endo Reiko is a child of the Nagasaki Atomic Bombing. She goes to visit her former lover, Katayama Kenichi, a victim of the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake who resides in Nagaoka, aware of its association to the Nagaoka Fireworks. The film is Reiko’s travelogue as she is captivated by the wonderland of surprises and delights in Nagaoka. All of the characters are actual people from history. Nagaoka air raid narrator Lilico, whose deceased infant is reincarnated as a presently 18-year-old Hana, among other historical elements are fictionalized with a semi-documentary touch.
About The Cinefamily
The Cinefamily is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of movie lovers devoted to finding and presenting interesting and unusual programs of exceptional, distinctive, weird and wonderful films. The Cinefamily’s mission is to foster a spirit of community and a sense of discovery, while reinvigorating the movie-going experience. Like campfires, sporting events and church services, we believe that movies work best as social experiences. They are more meaningful, funnier and scarier when shared with others. The Cinefamily was founded in 2007 by brothers Dan and Sammy Harkham and Hadrian Belove, founder of Cinefile Video.