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.
Following on from my post of a few days back, the Play For Japanwebsite has been set up to give details of all fundraising events in the UK for the victims of the Tohoku Earthquake. The coming weeks should see a number of arts and music related events taking place in London, such as a handful of gigs by the London-based Aussie electro-techno twosome Loops of Fury and a 1950′s themed Whiskey Tasting and music Extravaganza with Cask Strength and Gary Driscoll (sounds right up my alley!) No doubt there’ll be plenty more soon announced too, but if you too have got any ideas of ways in which you can raise money, then get in touch with Play for Japan at email@example.com.
Dates and venues for the above events have yet to be confirmed, which goes someway to show the difficulties in getting hold of a venue at short notice, which is why we are particularly grateful to the Roxy Bar and Screen on Borough High Street (midway between London Bridge and Borough tube stations) for stepping in at such short notice and providing both a bar and a screen for a Special screening of Beyond Anime: CALF Animation for Play for Japan, on Sunday 3 April from 6-9pm.
And likewise, a huge thanks to Nobuaki Doi and the animators at CALF, Atsushi Wada, Kei Oyama, Mirai Mizue and the TOCHKA collective for giving their thumbs up to show their films.
There’s no fixed ticket price. Just donate what you want at the door, and we’ll no doubt find some other way of prising more money from your hands on the night, all of which will go directly to the Japan Society Tohoku Earthquake Relief Fund.
For more details, take a look at the entry on the Play for Japan website, its Facebook event page or the Zipangu Fest website, with the full programme listed here.
So just to reiterate, that’s
Special screening of Beyond Anime: CALF Animation for Play for Japan
Where: The Roxy Bar and Screen, 128-132 Borough High Street, London SE1 1LB (London Bridge and Borough tube stations)
When: Sunday 03 April 2010, 18:00 – 21:00.
I’ll try and keep people up to speed on other Play for Japan events too either via this website or Twitter.
Finally, I wanted to end with Ian Thomas Ash’s third and fourth video documents of life in Tokyo in the wake of the quake, much of it concerned, as we all are, with the ominous spectre of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
After earthquake and tsunami in Japan, anyone for shopping?, uploaded 16 March 2011
Radiation Levels in Tokyo Warrant Fear?, uploaded 17 March 2011
Posted at 10:56 on 18 March 2011 Filed under news.
It seems I managed to skip posting anything here in February. Oh well, it was a busy month, not least due to the East Winds: Third Window Festival (see previous post) in Coventry and the related duties of interviewing Confessions of a Dog director Gen Takahashi onstage for his mid-month ICA screening in preparation for Third Window Film’s upcoming DVD release, which is currently going damn cheap on Amazon UK (especially if you buy it alongside the DVD of the same company’s Confessions, currently on theatrical release and doing great biz thanks to Claudia Winkelman naming it the must-see release of its week on BBC’s Film 2011).
Hand Soap by Kei Oyama, one of the visionary animators represented by the CALF label
For now however, I just wanted to return to CALF, the independent animation specialist DVD label in Japan whose various creative agents we showcased at Zipangu Fest last November. Well, first up is some good news for those in the Northeast of England – this programme is heading up to Newcastle’s Star and Shadow Cinema on Thursday 7 April, with me in tow to introduce it. It’s the first of a series of four slots from last year’s Zipangu Fest, which ends on Sunday 17 April with Tomoya Maeno’s charming coming-of-age comedy Footed Tadpoles. The other films that will play over the following weeks are Go Shibata’s NN-891102 (described by subtitledonline.com as “edgy, gracefully apocalyptic… approached the realms of the visionary)” and on 14 April, the various films in the Ero Guro Anime Night, including Naoyuki Niiya’s wonderfully macabre Maneater Mountain and Hiroshi Harada’s infamous Midori: The Girl in the Freakshow. You can find out more about these films on the Zipangu Fest and Star and Shadow websites.
Hiroshi Harada's notorious Midori: The Girl in the Freakshow
The next bit of CALF-related news is that Viennese filmmaker Stefan Nutz is is currently putting together a documentary about Japanese indie, art and experimental animation, which sounds right up my street. The film, which features interviews with among others CALF’s Nobuaki Doi, Mirai Mizue, TOCHKA, Atsushi Wada and Kei Oyama as well as the two directors of the films in the aforementioned Ero Guro programme, doesn’t seem to have a title yet, and it may be a while before it is completed, but you can check its progress and show your support by checking out its website.
I’ve already shown my appreciation for the work of Mirai Mizue in an earlier post, but I just thought I’d flag up a few more bits of related news about this maestro of abstract animation. Firstly, Mizue is one of the featured animators at this year’s Flatpack Festival held in Birmingham later this month, 23-27 March. Secondly, his 2007 work Lost Utopia is one of the titles nominated on the website for the International Festival of Animated Film Stuttgart 2011 – so if you like his film, then you can show your support by voting for it online. What do you mean you’ve not seen it? It’s here on Youtube!
And finally, Mizue has his own Vimeo channel, which features slimmed down versions of his more epic films, and a lot of his works that aren’t included on the CALF DVD, including the Timbre series, of 26 short films running from Timbre A to Timbre Z, uploaded at a rate of one a day earlier this year. Also recently posted on Youtube is the summation of this series, A Long Day of Timbre. A busy man!
Oh, and I believe I’ve mentioned it before, but he has his own website too.
Timbre Z, the last instalment of Mirai Mizue's hypnotic Timbre series, all available to watch on Vimeo
The CALF crew are all going to be in Frankfurt this April for the eleventh Nippon Connection, including Mizue’s label-mates TOCHKA, who I will end by saying a little more about. Few of the artists on the CALF label stretch definitions of animation quite as far as this duo, consisting of Takeshi Nagata and Kazue Monno, whose works are realised using a technique they call PiKA PiKA, which is a combination of long exposure and stop motion animation techniques. There’s an interactive element to all of this too, which makes their appearance at Nippon Connection all the more exciting, as audience will have the opportunity to participate in a workshop, waving their glow-sticks to create their own animation. The TOCHKA DVD is available on the CALF website along with the other animators, and yes, they’ve also got their own website.
Frozen in time, a still from one of TOCHKA's PiKA PiKA "lightning doodle" projects, coming to Nippon Connection this April
Rather than me reproduce their press release in full myself, you can read all about the forthcoming Nippon Connection on the website of Jason Gray. As well as the CALF focus, highlights include an exhaustive retrospective of current darling of Japanese cinema, Sion Sono, the Love Exposure director whom I’ve written about many times on this website, and whose Cold Fish is going to be the next title up for release in the UK from Third Window, which brings us sort of full circle I guess….
Posted at 17:43 on 02 March 2011 Filed under news.