It would interest me which films are the most remarkable, unusual films, if you look more closely at individual aspects such as the dramaturgy or the sound design.
Day Is Done works with sound very creatively. The film has extraordinary sound work, which is true for many films in the programme. Sound is often neglected in film, and it is often forgotten that the sound creates spaces in the first place. The sound also facilitates the viewer's psychological access to the film and is sometimes more decisive than the image. That is also a criterion while selecting the films.
Looking at this year's programme, the dramatic structures that don't follow the usual three-act or 90-minute blueprint stand out. I find it nice that we have quite a lot of films between 70 and 80 minutes long. It also gets interesting beyond 150 minutes. Such as Heaven’s Story, for example. The director Zeze Takahisa became known as the King of Pink, because he shot low-budget soft-porn movies at the beginning of his career. The genre was the best opportunity for young, ambitious Japanese filmmakers to realise their ideas, since the only pre-condition was to build four or five nude scenes into the film. In the 2011 Forum Zeze is present with an enormous five-hour work. The film weaves together the stories of a dozen main characters and links this to a kind of puppet or mask theatre, that references the Japanese storytelling tradition.
The politics of the festival in the 1960s
Besides the diverse Japanese films in the regular programme, there is also a series devoted to one individual Japanese director. Why should audiences get to know this director?
The problem with festivals until the 1960s was that their selection process wasn't really independent. It worked like this: the respective national film organisations suggested which films should be sent to festivals and then a selection committee made the final decision. Shibuya Minoru, to whom we're dedicating a retrospective in this year's Forum, had the bad luck to not belong to the top two of his production company, who always suggested Keisuke Kinoshita and Yasujirō Ozu, and therefore Shibuya - unjustly - never had a chance. Shibuya was very interested in Japanese customs and Japanese morality - with all its incongruities. For example in the 1962 film Yopparai tengoku (Drunkard's Paradise) which is about alcoholism in a certain class of Japanese white collar workers. Shibuya's films form a chronicle of Japan. They deal with the upheavals after the war and the new family structures that resulted in a transformation of societal ideas in Japan.