Close Up

12 July 2011: Studies in Movement: Experiments by Three Filmmakers


An Eater
Nobuhiko Obayashi & Kazutomo Fujino
1963 | 23 min | 16mm  

A satire similar to Luis Buñuel's darkly comic condemnations of bourgeois dinner rituals, Nobuhiko Obayashi co-directed An Eater with painter Kazutomo Fujino to point out the voracious greed of human behaviour. A waitress is sickened by her customers' overindulgence and loses consciousness. When she awakens, she finds her body is being dissected and prepared for the next meal. The surreal absurdities and comedic tone is a precursor to the director's recently rediscovered masterpiece Hausu (1977). The film won a special award at Knokke-le-Zoute Experimental Film Festival in 1964.  

Nobuhiko Obayashi
1964 | 15 min | 16mm  

Nobuhiko Obayashi began making 8-mm "personal-films" where he explored the joy of moving images by recording his immediate surroundings and playing with the possibilities of the medium. Complexe employs stop-motion animation techniques on live-action footage generating jittery effects - its rapid-fire cutting become comically surreal. The film follows a suited man's walk through town where his digressions lead to a series of encounters and humorous happenings, in the style of Takahiko Iimura's Dance Party In The Kingdom Of Liliput. Complexe was screened at the inaugural event of the Film Independents, a group of independent filmmakers that was set up with Takahiko Iimura.

"Beyond formal experimentation, what makes Obayashi's early work distinct from other filmmakers to come out of the 1960s is the way he pairs an emphasis on malleable time and space with an equally fervent impulse towards melodrama of the most robust and romantic sort" – Paul Roquet

Nihon University Film Studies Club
1961 | 25 min | 16mm  

The 4th production of Nihon University Film Studies Club, Wan was led by Masao Adachi and was produced in the wake of the failure of student protests against the Anpo: US-Japan Security Treaty in 1960. The lucidly surreal images illustrate a young man who rebels against an eerie ritual, yet it becomes uncertain whether his act of rebellion is autonomous or a part of the ceremony.  

Yunbogi's Diary
Nagisa Oshima
1965 | 30 min | 16mm  

A lyrical and ethereal montage of still-images, Yunbogi's Diary is a collage-piece by Nagisa Oshima with darkly sombre undertones. The collection of photographs were taken by Oshima during his two-month research trip to South Korea in 1965 where he was astounded but strengthened by the poverty-stricken street-children in Seoul. The voiceover narrates diary entries from a six-year old Korean boy and Oshima's own ruminations of Japan-Korean relations, a subject that was revisited throughout his career, surfacing most prominently in Sing a Song of Sex and Death by Hanging.  

"An unflinchingly iconoclastic and ceaselessly inventive filmmaker, Nagisa Oshima has scorched an indelible path across postwar Japanese cinema. Oshima is one of Japan's original outlaw masters – a rebellious and instinctively anti-establishment artist" – James Quandt  

The programme will be introduced by Julian Ross  

Part of Theatre Scorpio: Japanese Independent and Experimental Cinema of the 1960s programme