From April 27 to May 1, 2011, Nippon Connection in Frankfurt am Main will show exciting and creative cinema from Japan for the eleventh time. The preparations for the festival are already in full swing. Once more, Nippon Connection will present a broad range of avantgarde, anime, blockbusters and documentaries with more than 100 of the latest Japanese short and feature films, many of them screened as German, European or international premieres and accompanied by the presence of film-makers and actors.
Aside from the film program Nippon Connection will also give you the chance to experience various aspects of Japanese culture – from “pop art” to high culture. Prepare to be amazed!
Highlights this year include a comprehensive Sion Sono retrospective.
Posted at 15:02 on 27 April 2011 Filed under events.
I’ve had my hands incredibly full these past few weeks, if you’re wondering at all why I’ve not been posting much recently, and I still have a few loose ends to tie up here before I get up at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning and head to Nippon Connection for my seventh year running. Yes, hard to believe, but it’s already been a year since we were all stranded in Frankfurt by the Icelandic volcano whose name no one could ever pronounce. There are plenty of goodies on offer again this year, including a CALF Animation Special & Independent Animation Filmmakers’ Talk moderated by Cathy Munroe Hotes of Nishikata Film Review featuring Mirai Mizue, Nobuaki Doi and Tochka on 29 April · 18:00 – 21:30.
This presents me with the opportunity to mention that the CALF collectives’ work has proved extremely popular in the UK of late – we got a great turnout at the Zipangu Fest / CALF charity fundrasiser for the Tohoku Earthquake on Sunday 2 April (thanks once again to Phil and the wonderful staff at the Roxy for helping this happen), and 7 April saw a sell-out screening of the programme at Newcastle’s Star & Shadow screening where the staff had to carry sofas into the theatre to cram all the customers in!
Pixilate to Heal - the audience get involved at the CALF fundraiser at the Roxy, 3 April 2011
The UK-based animator Miho Lomon was present at the Roxy screening where she invited the audience to participate in her Pixilate to Heal – Japan Tsunami Appeal animation project (check the facebook page for more info). Hopefully her movie will be up on youtube soon so I can post a link to it on this website. Tochka also worked their animation magic to lend a voice of support to the earthquake victims, which I’m posting below.
Anyway, I may or may not post bulletins from Nippon Connection over the next few days, depending upon how busy I am, but this is just a promise to say once I’m back, I will post the final installment of my Widescreen Weekend report, so watch this space…
Posted at 15:54 on 26 April 2011 Filed under news.
Since the Tohoku earthquake and Tsunami of 11 March, almost six weeks ago to this date, radioactive waste has been leaking out of the Fukushima nuclear reactor into the oceans at an alarming rate. 20 April saw the anniversary of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Its aftereffects are still being keenly felt by those in the area who make their living from the sea. Midway between Japan and the West coast of the United States lies an area roughly twice the size of Texas known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a gyre of floating carrier bags, PET bottles and other plastic waste leaking various disgusting contaminants into the ocean. Lets face it, it’s not a great time to be a seafood lover, and if you don’t believe me, you might want to check the Environmental Cleanup Coalition website or take a peak at Werner Boote’s 2009 documentary Plastic Planet while it can still be found on youtube.
Be careful where you throw your empty bottels, you never know where they might end up - a scene from Werner Boote’s 2009 documentary Plastic Planet
While we’re at it, landlubbers shouldn’t feel too comfortable. Today also marks the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and let us not forget the 2004 toxic gas leak, courtesy of Union Carbide, that left thousands dead and hundreds of thousands suffering from the after effects. The recent documentary Vanishing of the Bees, which can be ordered from Amazon UK here for slightly more than than the price of a buy-one-get-one-free frozen chicken offer at Tescos, lays down its argument pretty convincingly, that the phenomenon of hive collapse, or Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) can be firmly attributed to the agricultural industry’s dogged use of toxic pesticides. Well of course, we’ve been here before, and I only have to look at the public park outside my front door, Burgess Park, strewn with dog shit, broken glass, empty takeaway boxes full of greasy chicken bones, lager cans and yet more carrier bags, to see that this constant state of living amongst dangerous waste due to the thoughtless acts of the terminally selfish is something we’d better get used to and just pray that we’re not directly affected by it.
Zakka Films' timely release of Minamata: The Victims and Their World (1971)
Anyway, all this doom and gloom is just a preamble to say that Zakka Films in the U.S., who also gave us the wonderful Roots of Japanese Anime disk that I screened a few films from at the Origins of Anime event I organised at the Barbican last May, has just released a number of DVDs containing the works of Japan’s celebrated documentarist Noriaki Tsuchimoto, including a number of films on Afghanistan before the post-9/11 invasion (Traces: The Kabul Museum 1988 and Another Afghanistan: Kabul Diary 1985), his 1963 avant-garde traffic safety documentary On the Road: A Document that was never shown for its original purpose, and perhaps his most famous work, Minamata: The Victims and Their World (1971), about the effects of mercury poisoning on the inhabitants of a small coastal town after the fertiliser company Chisso began dumping its wastewater into the ocean. You can find out more information about these Tuchimoto titles on the Zakka Films website, and take a look at the trailer and the synopsis of the Minamata film below.
In the small town of Minamata in Kyushu, far from the metropolitan center, the fertilizer company Chisso built a factory to take advantage of cheap labor and commenced dumping mercury-filled wastewater into the nearby sea. Soon residents began exhibiting symptoms of a mysterious illness, a happening that would eventually develop into the worst case of environmental pollution in postwar Japan. Noriaki Tsuchimoto visits the patients and their families who sued Chisso and listens to their voices. His camera gently lifts the veil that had obscured them and reveals their reality. MINAMATA: THE VICTIMS AND THEIR WORLD is impressive in how it stands on the side of the patients, not only providing a collage of individual portraits, but also an understanding of the their everyday lives.
One of the monuments of Japanese documentary, MINAMATA: THE VICTIMS AND THEIR WORLD played at many international festivals, winning an award at Locarno.
Posted at 15:14 on 26 April 2011 Filed under news.