Monday, August 27, 2012

Cine Soiree in Tokyo

Summertime in Tokyo.  An unpleasantly hot season, but a good time to go do some shooting and discover a little bit about the local film scene.  It's nearly impossible to be a filmmaker visiting Tokyo and not think of Chris Marker, who passed away this summer.  His film "Sans Soleil" is a fascinating portrait of Tokyo among many other things.

Paid a visit to Image Forum, the respected experimental film venue, tucked away in the Shibuya area on the west side of the city.  Their summer schedule is mostly devoted to workshops (film history and animation).  In a sense not unlike Millennium Film Workshop or the London Filmmakers Coop in the multiple endeavors of the institution: screenings and workshops (in the case of Millennium and the London Coop, equipment rentals too).  With Image Forum there is also the production and distribution of DVDs of experimental cinema.

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Meanwhile, on the east side of Tokyo there is the super-8 film lab called Retro Enterprises.  Students from some of the Image Forum workshops would have their film processed here.  In addition to super-8 processing the lab does restoration work, film-to-video, and even video-to-film.  The last of these services for cinematographers who are more confident working in digital video and afraid that they're too inexperienced to use a motion picture camera, but want to have their work shown on film.  There's also some equipment for sale on consignment in a large glass case.  A very nice 16mm Bolex camera had just come in when I was there dropping off some film for processing.  Tak Kohyama describes Retro Enterprises (half-jokingly) as "the world's smallest film lab."  And indeed, Tokyo real estate being what it is, this might very well be the world's smallest film lab.

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A visit out to the more westerly side of Honshu, to the Okayama area, for the Uno Port Art Film Festival with outdoor screenings taking place right next to the Inland Sea.  The video projector for the event had come all the way from Rooftop Films in Brooklyn.  Many filmmakers participated in Q&As after their screenings through Skype.  Not always a smooth process: the audio dropping out, the video freezing, the call disconnecting.  Was much better being there in person to engage with the audience, and also have a chance to see all the other work that was showing in this nicely programed festival.

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In the bohemian neighborhood of Koenji a chance to spend some time with filmmaker Takahiko iimura.  A visit last year to iimura's show at Microscope Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn can be found in an older Cine Soiree blog post.  A busy season approaching for Taka; a show at MoMA in New York happening this fall, a screening in London, another one elsewhere in the U.K.

Was still feeling tired that evening from climbing Mt Fuji a few days before, with a super-8 camera to shoot time-lapse of the sunrise -- but that's a story for another time!