Tomoyasu Murata: Stop Motion Master — Feb 23 at Japan Society in NYC
North American Premiere of 8-Film Shorts Program Showcasing Acclaimed Japanese Stop Motion Animation Artist
Source: Japan Society press release
Special Thanks to Christian Barclay
One of Japan’s most prolific independent animation artists, Tomoyasu Murata (b. 1974, Tokyo) has steadily created breathtaking, boundary-breaking stop motion animated films over the last two decades. Inspired by the expressive power of traditional Japanese bunraku puppet theater, Murata’s films — at once tender, whimsical and mysterious — deal with themes of memory, absence and mujo (the Buddhist concept of impermanence) through the cinematic manipulation of his meticulously handcrafted puppets and fantastical miniature sets.
Japan Society is proud to introduce Murata’s work to New York City for the first time through the career-spanning program Tomoyasu Murata: Stop Motion Master, featuring the North American premiere of eight short films that range from the artist’s award-winning student work to recent projects that respond to the 3/11 Great East Japan Earthquake.
“An artist of great introspection and sensitivity, Murata makes the most of silence in his stop motion animation films, which are entirely without dialogue,” says Kazu Watanabe, Deputy Director of Film at Japan Society. “His gorgeous, otherworldly shorts invite reflection in their stillness, evoking wonder and awe through their genuine depth of feeling and sublime artistry. I am very happy to have the opportunity to expose his work to new audiences here in New York.”
Beginning his career as a student at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts & Music, Murata won the Japan Media Arts Festival Excellence Award (Animation Division) in 2001 for his short film NOSTALGIA. Since then, he has produced a wide range of work — encompassing animation, video, sculpture, collage and mixed media — that is regularly exhibited in solo and group exhibitions and film festivals in Japan and abroad in Asia and Europe. In 2002 he started his own independent company through which he also produces creative commercial work including music videos and advertisements.
The entire program will screen three times on Saturday, February 23, at 3 pm, 5 pm and 7 pm.
Admission: $14/$11 seniors & students/$10 Japan Society members. Tickets may be purchased online at japansociety.org, in person at Japan Society, or by calling the box office at 212-715-1258.
Organized in association with Japan Media Arts Festival presented by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan.
FILMS (LISTED IN SCREENING ORDER)
Approx. 84 min. total. DCP, color, no dialogue. Directed and animated by Tomoyasu Murata.
NOSTALGIA (睡蓮の人, Suiren no Hito)
In Murata’s award-winning thesis work, which mourns the loss of a loved one, an elderly man’s daily routine is interrupted by a rediscovered fragment of a precious memory. 2000, 16 min.
THE SCARLET ROAD (朱の路, Ake no Michi)
Part of Murata’s “Road” series, a sorrowful pianist on a journey meets a girl who gives him a vermillion flower in a tunnel connecting them to a world beyond. 2002, 14 min.
FAMILY DECK (Vol. 1, 5, 6) (家族デッキ, Kazoku Dekki)
The Seven Lucky Gods (or kami, meaning both “hair” and “gods”) live in the Takada’s barber shop in Tokyo — a set based on a real-life now-lost local store close to Murata’s heart — where they play charming tricks on the family of four. Three selections from a 6-film series. 2007, 15 min.
OKINAMAI / THE FOREST THIS FLOWER BLOOMS (木ノ花ノ咲クヤ森, Ki-no Hana-no Sakuya Mori)
In the first episode in a series of films centered on The Great East Japan Earthquake, an amnesiac wolf traces his past and escapes from hunters who are after him in an eerily beautiful moonscape. 2015, 11 min.
The island repeats volcanic eruption after earthquake, smoke and glowing heat bubbling from the morphing surface—but when the tectonic activity recedes, all is sand and, finally, the miracle of water flowing, of life. 2016. 11 min.
A BRANCH OF A PINE IS TIED UP (松が枝を結び, Matsuga Edawo Musubi)
Twins are separated by the destructive earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan’s Tohoku region in 2011, but with a swirling snow globe, they traverse the present and the past, the living and the dead: reconciling, remembering, and restoring. 2017. 17 min.
Japan Society Film offers a diverse selection of Japanese films, from classics to contemporary independent productions. Its aim is to entertain, educate and support activities in the Society’s arts and culture programs. For more, visit japansociety.org/film.
About Japan Society
Founded in 1907, Japan Society in New York City presents sophisticated, topical and accessible experiences of Japanese art and culture, and facilitates the exchange of ideas, knowledge and innovation between the U.S. and Japan. More than 200 events annually encompass world-class exhibitions, dynamic classical and cutting-edge contemporary performing arts, film premieres and retrospectives, workshops and demonstrations, tastings, family activities, language classes, and a range of high-profile talks and expert panels that present open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia.
Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and M subway at Lexington Avenue). For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit japansociety.org.
Japan Society Film’s programs are generously supported by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund.
Additional season support is provided by The Globus Family, Masu Hiroshi Masuyama, James Read Levy, Geoff Matters, David S. Howe, Dr. Tatsuji Namba, Mr. and Mrs. Omar H. Al-Farisi, Laurel Gonsalves, and Akiko Koide and Shohei Koide.