Volume 3 | Issue 4 | Winter 2007


Volume 3 - Issue 4 - Editorial

By Ben Slater

There’s the sequence (a film within a film) in Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil, where the camera fixes on a television set in Tokyo as a bombardment of inexplicable images cascade across the screen. The scene keeps rapidly changing, either by remote control editing or 1980s vision mixing, and the exotic banality of the image-flow makes it impossible to tell where Marker’s cuts and wipes end and the ceaseless motion of Japanese TV takes over.
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Japan Diary

By Sean McAllister

I’ve become nocturnal living in Tokyo. Three weeks have turned to six already, wandering without a brief, amongst the neon-lit sex bars and love hotels, searching for a documentary for BBC and NHK, Japan. I feel 'Lost in my own Translation' here.

Letter from Jihlava

By Rajesh Thind

I left my room key with the young Czech girl behind reception at the Hotel Jihlava early on an October morning, and wandered down to the main venue for the Jihlava International Documentary Festival.

Tokyo Slaughterhouse

By Stephen Barber

Yoko was dreaming a question: How many teardrops were needed to make up one warm rain of lust? Firstly, there were her own tears. Secondly, there were the tears of the backstreet abortionists of Tokyo’s eastern districts – the 'makers of angels'.

A Brief History of 7 Inch Cinema

By Ian Francis

The seeds for 7 Inch Cinema were sown nearly ten years ago. I was working at a ‘proper’ film festival when a vanload of lottery-funded a-v equipment arrived which nobody knew how to run. This strange new world of ansi lumins, female XLRs and magic folding screens opened up the possibility...

Somewhere over the Rainbow

By Holly Aylett

Last year, of 400 cinema releases 19 could be classified for children between the ages of 3 – 12. Of these 5 were not in the English language, and only 3 were classified as British – Valiant, Lassie and Wallace and Gromit – all of which were co-productions with the United States.

An Artist in the Floating World

By Maggie Lee

It may sound corny to say that Cats Of Mirikitani is for anyone who loves cats and world peace, but herein lies its universal appeal and understated power. As director Linda Hattendorf says in her introduction to the film, it is “the story of losing ‘home’ on many levels.”

Offshore Speculation: In conversation: Anja Kirschner, director of Polly II Plan for a Revolution in Docklands

By William Fowler

London-based artist Anja Kirschner’s latest video, Polly II Plan for a Revolution in Docklands (2006), presents a vision of London’s East End transformed by severe flooding and illustrates elements of the social upheaval that ensues.

Reverse Angle: The 1960s and the Possibility of Radical Underground Film in Japan

By Go Hirasawa

It is said that contemporary Japanese Cinema is booming. Certainly, mainstream films are drawing large audiences, the number of independent films produced is increasing, and so many first-time directors are coming out one after another that it’s hardly possible to follow up on them all. One could say this is a sort of ‘bubble’.

Little Wolf

By Wallis Eates

It was a noiseless afternoon; there wasn’t a sound to be heard. At least, not a sound that results from a happening, but just perhaps, the presence of being. It was the type of afternoon, where if one closed one’s eyes, just by listening, they would understand distance.

Ah! Sunflower: Allen Ginsberg Recalled, Rebranded, Released

By Iain Sinclair

London’s true Dome. The People’s Palace that never quite happened. A brick yurt famed in tribal history: the Roundhouse in Camden Town. A lovingly constructed shell within a shell. Another mega-budget, architect-soothed vortex in which layer upon layer of memory traces engage in a Darwinian struggle...

Emotional Locations: A Meeting with Ryuichi Hiroki

By Maggie Lee

“He handled me as if he was handling a peach,” reveals the heroine (Terajima Shinobu) of Vibrator (2003) after a night of intimacy with a truck driver (Nao Omori). The same could be said for the characteristic sensitivity and gentleness with which Ryuichi Hiroki handles his female subjects...

Extremes of Independence

By Tetsuaki Matsue

Since the 1990s, Japanese films have started to become widely appreciated in the international market… Or so I hear. Living in Japan, its possible to follow the global reputation of certain Japanese directors – Takeshi Kitano, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Takashi Miike, Hayao Miyazaki, etc

Cold Mountains, Red Armies

By Go Hirasawa

On 10 November, 2006, the filming begins for Jitsuroku rengosekigun Asama Sansou e no doutei (Literal translation: The Allied Red Army’s Passage to Asama Lodge – An Authentic Account). The crew sets up to shoot along the brook of the Okutama River, in the rural outskirts of Tokyo.

Sono Sion: The Dark Poet

By Maggie Lee

"The difference between the amateur and the professional [in filmmaking] is like that between love and prostitution… I want to keep both the passion of the amateur and the professionalism of the prostitute in equilibrium in my projects.”

Documentary Laid Bare: Tetsuaki Matsue

By Maggie Lee

Documentary filmmaker, critic, Adult Video artist, B-movie and Asian film Aficionado, Japanese youth subculture guru, youngest juror of Tokyo International Film Festival’s ‘2006 Winds of Asia’ section. Tetsuaki Matsue is a man who wears many hats, but most of all he loves to be naked...

Ecovisions: Seeing Animals in Recent Ethnographic Film

By Anat Pick

In some remote corner of the universe, effused into innumerable solar-systems, there was once a star upon which clever animals invented cognition. It was the haughtiest, most mendacious moment in the history of this world, but yet only a moment.

The Tokyo Mystery

By Ben Slater

Film-essayist Chris Marker’s fascination for Japan, and in particular Tokyo, is most famously apparent in Sans Soleil (1983). But he had made a film-essay about Japan almost 20 years previously, a film that had slipped out of distribution – Le Mystère Koumiko or The Koumiko Mystery (1965).

The Next Projectionist: Notes from The Void

By Camille Brooks

My room, which is small and self-contained, has held me for so long I am almost as familiar with it as I am my own mind. Although small, there are still bits of it I do not use. Secrets are uncovered almost daily; I'll catch a glimpse of something new, an old socket for example hidden behind the wardrobe...

Penny Woolcock on Exodus

By Penny Woolcock

While writing the screenplay the story and the characters crawled so inside me that I’d stir in the early hours with a feeling of dread and excitement, thinking I was Moses and had ordered a suicide bomber to kill the Firstborn.

Visual Music: The Animation of Norman McLaren

By Nancy Harrison

Although born and educated in Scotland, Norman McLaren (1914-1987) became Canada’s best-known animator through his work at the National Film Board of Canada, winning both an Oscar (for his 1952 anti-War Neighbours) and a Palme d’Or (Blinkity Blank, 1955).

The Chronicle of Daniele Huillet

By James Norton

On May 3 1936 the Front Populaire was elected to power in France in the face of increasingly fascistic opposition, forming a radical socialist government led by a Jewish Prime Minister and including three women, although women were not given the vote in France until 1945.

Japanese Documentaries Take Tokyo

By Fujioka Asako

Requested to be on the jury for the year-end awards given out by Invitation (a monthly Japanese cinema and culture magazine) this week, I was happily surprised to find 35 films on the nomination list for the category ‘Japanese Documentary’...

Cinema of Attractions: On the Charismatic Worlds of Kiyoshi Kurosawa

By George Clark

A deadly but alluring shoal of jellyfish in the waterways of modern day Tokyo; an old dying tree that could be the cause of a catastrophe or savior of mankind; a charismatic hypnotist able to unearth peoples’ violent urges and an unbearable web page that drives those who view it to suicide.

Vision On: Pervasive Animation in and around London

By Suzanne Buchan

With its unlimited potential to visually represent events, scenarios and forms that have little or no relation to our experience of the ‘real’ world, animation is implemented in many ways in many disciplines. Especially since the digital shift, the uses of animation are no longer exclusive to narrative cinema.

The Cinematic Tango: Contemporary Argentine Film

By Tamara Falicov

Throughout the roughly one hundred years of its existence, Argentine cinema has had to compete against the Hollywood behemoth to garner an audience. Sadly, it was largely successful in only two periods of its film history...

The Abingdon Film Unit

By Jeremy Taylor | Michael Grigsby

The Abingdon Film Unit (AFU) is a small organisation that enables secondary school pupils between the ages of 13 and 18 to make their own short documentary or animated films under the guidance of a team of industry professionals led by the renowned documentary maker Michael Grigsby.

Return of the Real: Introducing The Artists Cinema

By George Clark

The art world’s growing fascination and support for artists’ film and video is widely welcomed, but the consequences for cinema, as galleries threaten to strip them of their most radical, formally innovative and complex work is rarely examined.

From First Principles: A Prehistory of the Slade Film Department

By Henry K. Miller

In 1960 Britain’s first university film department was opened at the Slade School of Fine Art at University College London. This first article in a four-part history of the department looks at the adventures in film of Slade Professor (Sir) William Coldstream and senior lecturer Thorold Dickinson...

Fresh Air in Ukraine

By Steven Yates

The recent Kiev Film Festival had an excellent main competition that showcased some of the best new talent in European Cinema. These films included Euphoria by Russian director Ivan Vyrypayev; The Lives of Others, an accomplished first film by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck; and 12:08 East of Bucharest by Corneliu Porumboiu.

Be Ambidextrous! Documentary and the Internet

By Angus Reid

The internet represents an astounding resource for the documentary filmmaker. And yet, no-one seems to be using it. Every film, every style-conscious film has a website – yes – but these are never more than vehicles for merchandising the film.

Blissfully Yours: Towards the Wondrous Void

By Tony Rayns

Bliss is no less elusive in the movies than it is in life, but it’s not hard to find in Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s movies. Maybe it helps that he’s a Buddhist.

Global Village Voices

By David Jenkins

“I believe that the consumer society is the final stage of civilisation. This society can continue for another hundred years or so but I completely believe that this utilitarian, devouring way of life signals that civilisation is ending.” These are the words of the great Jan Svankmajer...

On Independence

By Peter Whitehead

What is independence and why do we need independence? Every natural system in the universe, every social system, every psychological system is trapped in a dialogue between order and adventure, between order and regeneration, call it what you will.

Sex, Violence and Politics – Japanese Style

By Jasper Sharp

In a quiet corner in one of the tiny nomi-ya drinking establishments in the crowded warren that is Tokyo’s Golden Gai area, I sit listening attentively to the greying figure seated opposite. He avoids eye contact, staring into the middle distance as he talks...

The Quay Brothers Dictionary

By Michael Brooke

This is a heavily abridged version of the Quay Brothers Dictionary, which occupies most of the 24-page booklet accompanying Quay Brothers: The Short Films 1979-2003, the BFI's recently-released two-DVD survey of their work.

Andi Engel: In Memoriam

By Jason Wood

A key chapter in the history of cinema was closed on Boxing Day with the death of Andi Engel. Born in Berlin in 1942, Engel was a former film critic who migrated to the UK in the late 1960s, and soon after set up a politically motivated distribution company closely affiliated with The OTHER Cinema.

Letter to my Eight and a Half Year Old Self

By Mark Cousins

Vertigo’s last issue led with a letter written by the renowned actress, Tilda Swinton, to her eight and a half year old son. It was prompted by his question: what did people dream before cinema was invented? Inspired to reply, but with no son to address, Mark Cousins writes to his eight and a half year old self.

Unrequited Love

By Chris Petit

Unrequited Love is available from Illuminations Films. Chris Petit is a filmmaker and novelist. His latest book, The Passenger is forthcoming in paperback.

Spirit of Place: Kyoto Garden, London

By Tereza Stehlíková

Japanese gardens trace their origin to respect and admiration for natural forms such as trees and rocks. These feelings towards nature, gradually refined by artistic creativity throughout history, express themselves in the form of the Japanese gardens we now have. Time is an element that adds to the garden's natural beauty.

Paris Cartes Postales/Tarots

By Sophie Mayer | Lady Vervaine

You have bought your ticket and crossed over. The other side of the screen – how is it? You stand where I shot Belmondo, rue Première Campagne. I imagine: I can see into the future where you have travelled. Like Cléo, you wander the city. In time.

Two Hearts

By Peter Todd

For You. Peter Todd: Film Works 1990-2005, screens at Riverside Studios Cinema, Hammersmith, London, 22 April 2007 at 3:00.pm Peter Todd shows at the surgery, Nunhead, London 19-29 April 2007

Volume 3 – Issue 4 – Winter 2007

This issue is dedicated to Andi Engel, for his unwavering commitment to independent film worldwide.

“What then was life? … It was the existence of the actually impossible-to-exist, of half-sweet, half-painful balancing, or scarcely balancing, in this restricted and feverish process of decay and renewal, upon the point of existence. It was not matter and it was not spirit, but something between the two, a phenomenon conveyed by matter, like the rainbow on the waterfall and like the flame.” – Thomas Mann, from The Magic Mountain

Managing Editor: Holly Aylett
Editor: Gareth Evans, with Ben Slater & Maggie Lee
Assistant Editor: Nancy Harrison
Original Website: Chris Lane
Marketing Manager: Peter Fraser
Publication Manager: Nancy Harrison
Student Network: Pepe Baena and Daniel Gonzalez Cabrero
Special Projects: Will Hui and Adam Jones
Interns: Jamie Sclafani, Claire Daly, Becky Prithard

Editorial Board: Holly Aylett, Emilie Bickerton, George Clark, Michael Chanan, Gareth Evaqns, Gaylene Gould, James Leahy, Thessa Mooij, Hannah Patterson, Julian Petley.

Advisory Board: John Akomfrah, Asu Aksoy, Yossi Bal, Gill Branston, Robert Chilcott, Don Coutts, David Curtis, Margaret Dickinson, Catherine Elwes, Alan Fountain, Lina Gopaul, Keith Griffiths, Sylvia Harvey, Judith Higginbottom, Asif Kapadia, Ruth Lingford, Sarah McCarthy, Martin McLoone, Robin MacPherson, Kevin Rockett, Keith Shiri, Sarah Turner.

Original Print Design: Thomas Zarebski, www.zarebski.co.uk

Printed by: Alderson Brothers Printers Ltd.

With Special Thanks to: Yoram Allon, Natalie Brady, Chris Chandler (UK Film Council), Junko Takakawa and Tyler Martin (Japan Foundation), Fionnuala Watters (GB Sasakawa), Peter Chappell, Takeshi Kitano, Curzon Cinemas, Jean Michel Frodon, Paul-Raymond Cohen, Helen Idle, Joan Leese, Steve Lewis (Artificial Eye), Tina McFarling, Mehelli Modi, Andy Townsend, Thomas Ponsonby (The Jerwood Charity), Gautham Ravindran, Michelle Salerno (ACE), Nicola Williams (UKFC), Sylvia Stevens, Lucy Reynolds, Verena von Stackelberg, Simon Cropper, Jill Reading (Bfi), Bad Idea magazine, Martin Gough (Soda).

Original Print Edition published with financial assistance from; Arts Council England; UK Film Council Lottery Funded; Jerwood Charitable Foundation