Regular attendees of Japan Society may be attentive at the latest news regarding their upcoming programming in the wake of the monthly film series, The Dark Side Of The Sun, hosted by avant-garde composer and music arranger John Zorn. As such, Japan Society has listed Oshima Nagisa‘s 1964 film, It’s Me Here, Bellett – 私のベレット(Watashi no Beretto) as its feature film of choice preceeded by eight experimental shortfilms ready to freshly make their North American premiere on Feburary 20, 2015.
One of the few films produced by the Directors Guild of Japan was a promotional film for the Isuzu Bellett- a sedan car that began manufacture in Japan in 1963. Starting with Yasujiro Ozu as advisor to the script, the credits include a slew of A-list film directors such as Heinosuke Gosho and Yoshitaro Nomura with a hip jazz soundtrack by jazz pianist and composer Hachidai Nakamura (also famous for being the composer of the hit song “Sukiyaki”). This mid-length movie is composed of 3 parts, each featuring the Bellett prominently. Each part utilizes different colors to produce different moods, with part 2 starring Akiko Koyama, Oshima’s wife. Originally made for television, It’s Me Here, Bellett is a must-watch for Oshima fans as this will be the first ever official screening in the U.S.
The eight shortfilms that will preceded it are by late animator and cartoonist Tezuka Osamu and will include the following:
1962, 3 min., DVD, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Osamu Tezuka.
A man in a dark room is tormented by a cool cat who wants to make love to his girlfriend cat in peace.
1964, 5 min., DVD, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Osamu Tezuka.
In what seems at first to be a light-hearted contemplation on memory, this creative multi-media animation takes a more ironic and cautionary tone.
1964, 8 min., DVD, color, no dialogue. Directed by Osamu Tezuka.
Set to Claude Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and set in a society where no daydreaming and imagination is allowed, a boy is imprisoned for claiming that a fish he rescued had turned into a mermaid.
1965, 4 min., DVD, color, no dialogue. Directed by Osamu Tezuka.
A gag-ridden comedy about a man lost on a raft and his struggle to get the last drop of water fall into his thirsty mouth. The task proves to not be so easy.
1968, 3 min., DVD, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Osamu Tezuka.
A parody of John Huston’s 1966 religious epic, The Bible: In the Beginning… The intention was to make fun of this high-budget production using basically no budget at all.
1987, 4 min., DVD, color, in Japanese with English subtitles. Directed by Osamu Tezuka.
In this simple and sharp satire, a man buys everything brand new from vending machines. He eventually goes to God and asks for a brand new Earth.
1987, 8 min., DVD, color, no dialogue. Directed by Osamu Tezuka.
A warrior finds a cursed sword stuck in a straw figure and begins cutting more straw figures, only to find them turn into humans once cut. A dark cautionary tale for a world dependent on nuclear weapons. Characters were designed by master kirie (paper cutting) artist Hyakkimaru.
1988, 13 sec., DVD, color, no dialogue. Directed by Osamu Tezuka.
The last of Tezuka’s experimental animation, his own face becomes a slot machine of various characters.
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