Earlier this week I shared thoughts on the 6 movies I saw during Japan Society’s annual Japan Cuts Film Festival for 2015. For this last entry about the festival I’m focusing on the other event I attended: the Experimental Spotlight.
Mono No Aware x [+]
This event was interesting in that in some sense it began several weeks before the festival started. On June 21 Mono No Aware and the Japan Society presented a workshop in which 20 participants created (very) short films using direct filmmaking techniques to manipulate 16mm “found footage” of documentaries about Japan. The films produced in this workshop opened the program, and were interesting in their variety and approaches despite using the same techniques, and in showing what can be done in such a short period of time.
The remainder of the program was even more fascinating in its diversity. RELAY presented an incredibly unique moving image view of an even more unique subject in the form of artist Ei Wada playing music on repurposed television sets. The imaginative Koropokkuru used puppetry and other techniques to convey Japanese folklore through manipulation of inanimate objects. Emblem manipulated the conversion of video to film to create a narrative out out of research footage. Louis Armstrong Obon played with pacing and atmosphere rather than visuals or technique, presenting almost a documentary style feature with great atmosphere and impact. sound of a million insects, light of a thousand stars was mesmerizing to watch, and became even more intriguing when the method behind the film was revealed at the end.
Varying manipulations of light were featured in the remaining 3 films. Stella Nova conveyed the life of a star through constant colorful manipulations and explosions, Emaki/Light was a dance of abstract black and white images produced by direct drawing on film pairing with harsh sporadic piano notes, and UB HOUSE Experience in Material No.52 was a brilliant and creepy presentation of moving shadows and bursts of light.
While I’ll admit some of the pieces seemed longer than they needed to be, everything was interesting and at least in some part captivating. The contrast of all the chosen shorts and topics covered really made this shine. This spotlight is a welcome addition to Japan Cuts and I hope we’ll see more of it next year.
And that concludes my experience at Japan Cuts 2015. I had a wonderful time and hope to attend even more of it next year. I encourage anyone who’s even remotely interested to check it out in 2016 as well as the other events Japan Society’s Film Program has in between.