Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"A Man Vanishes: The Legacy of Shohei Imamura" series at NWFF : Oct 26 - Nov 12


Link to NWFF "A Man Vanishes: The Legacy of Shohei Imamura" site


Still adventurously taboo, irreverent, psychologically scathing and often graphic in their depiction
of the urban human experience, and rarely seen on the big(ger) screen in the US, the films of Shohei
Imamura are long overdue for this kind of retrospective treatment. As a filmmaker he got his beginnings
under Yasujiro Ozu,but his movies came to carve out a *very* different path in Japanese cinema history.
A much deeper exploration of the 'lower aspects' of the human experience, involving the underbelly of
the 'baser' instincts, the depths of the subconscious and the lives of the urban-underprivileged, the
destitute, the desperate, the exploited and the broken-spirited. Often twisted and pushed to the limits
of what the mind/spirit can endure, his characters lived out there lives in sometimes graphic, but never
sensationalized (or morally banal) tales of urban life in post-war urban, modernizing Japan. Highlights
of the series include "Insect Woman", "Vengeance is Mine", "A Man Vanishes" and some of the later,
more humanistic films such as "Black Rain".

From the Northwest Film Forum:

"Last June, international cinema lost one of it's most cherished filmmakers, Japan's Shohei Imamura.
Imamura, whose credits include the masterpiece THE BALLAD OF NARAYAMA and PIGS AND
BATTLESHIPS, was a true maverick. He's the first major post-humanist to emerge in Japan, starting
out just before the other great rebel of Japanese cinema, Nagisa Oshima, went into feature filmmaking.
While his peers busied themselves telling classical humanist tales such as THE HUMAN CONDITION and
THE BURMESE HARP, Imamura scratched and got beneath our skin. Much like his mentor Yuzo Kawashima
at Nikkatsu studios, Imamura had a preference for contemporary themes, explored with frankness, humor
and a lack of cant. He also had an enduring interest in the inhabitants of cultural backwaters and the lower
depths, particularly earthy, strong-willed women who disdained bourgeois morality. Gradually he emerged
as one of the leading figures of postwar Japanese cinema, an insightful, creative artist with a near-scientific
interest in Japanese society, new and old, and a flair for depicting the human condition audaciously and
entertainingly. Northwest Film Forum honors Imamura on what would have been his eightieth year with a
retrospective of his work, rarely shown in the U.S."