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Archipelago: Exploring the Landscape of Contemporary Japanese Women Filmmakers

NFTS News

Archipelago: Exploring the Landscape of Contemporary Japanese Women Filmmakers

‘Archipelago’ is a film season curated by NFTS Film Studies, Programming and Curation MA student, Irene Silvera Frischknecht in partnership with the Japan Foundation and the Embassy of Japan in the UK. The season, which is free to attend and takes place between the 22nd November and the 2nd  December at locations around London, is dedicated to celebrating the diverse and exceptional work by the new generation of female directors who have emerged from the Japanese archipelago in the last fifteen years. ’Archipelago’ is part of a series of film programmes curated by finalist students from the NFTS MA in Film Studies, Programming and Curation , led by Sandra Hebron. The season comprises eight exhibition projects running until January 2018. They range from themed programmes and national cinema seasons to expanded cinema and online initiatives.

‘Archipelago’ will offer a glimpse into the distinctive voices of the selected screenwriter-directors, whose work remains largely undiscovered outside their home country. Each with their particular style, these filmmakers have secured themselves a unique place in the Japanese film industry by occupying a narrative space that is neither mainstream nor fully arthouse, subverting genre boundaries, and rarely adhering to a solely female-centric vision. For more information and to book, please visit https://www.facebook.com/ArchipelagoLND

We caught up with Irene to find out more:

Which films have you selected and why?

Rent-A-Cat (2012) dir. Naoko Ogigami. 22nd November at the Embassy of Japan in the UK

Ogigami’s films have a very peculiar deadpan sense of humour and refreshing visual style. She has a cult following inside and outside Japan, and her latest film Close Knit was featured at the London Film Festival this year. What I like the most about Ogigami’s films are the transcendental undertones. In Rent-A-Cat, Ogigami meditates on loneliness in our contemporary world with her distinct wistful mood.

Bare Essence of Life (2009) dir. Satoko Yokohama. 30th October at the Courthouse Cinema

Satoko Yokohama’s ‘Bare Essence of Life’ really stood out during my research for this season, for being such an outlandish, yet fantastic film that is impossible to categorize: a bizarre hybrid between comedy and offbeat surrealism, which takes a turn into existential reveries that bend all logic with bold originality.

Death of a Japanese Salesman (2011) dir. Mami Sunada. 1st December at the Courthouse Cinema

I thought it was essential to feature at least one documentary in the season, and Death of a Japanese Salesman is an unforgettable film. Director, Mami Sunada captures the last months of her own father’s life, tracking his progression from stoicism to emotional openness through straightforward conversations, practical decisions and poignant reunions. Far from being sombre, Mami’s portrays her father with candour, affection and light-hearted humour.

Wild Berries (2003) dir. Miwa Nishikawa. 2nd December at Rich Mix

Wild Berries is Miwa Nishikawa’s debut feature film. Miwa is considered as an auteur in Japan and is one of the most interesting filmmakers to have emerged in the last fifteen years, but unfortunately her work does not received the attention it deserves outside her home country. Miwa seems particularly interested in the theme of deception, and in this film, she scrutinizes how family members deceive each other, through a blend of wry humour and fierce realism. Panel discussion. 2nd December at Rich Mix

To conclude the season we will also be hosting a panel discussion, chaired by East Asia selection lead film programmer for the BFI London Film Festival, Kate Taylor , featuring Japanese cinema expert, writer and curator Jasper Sharp ; Japanese film researcher Alejandra Armendáriz Hernández and myself, the panel will bringing insight into the work of the directors as well as provide a retrospective focus on the part women have played throughout the history of the Japanese film industry. In doing so, framing debate on the current position of women behind the scenes both in Japan and across the globe.

The Film Studies Programming and Curation MA is delivered in partnership with the BFI; applications are open until the 23rd November and the course starts in January 2018 – more info on how to apply at www.nfts.co.uk/filmstudies