HOME cinema, as part of the Asia Triennial Festival Manchester, will be showing early films from four highly experimental, genre-bending directors. These craftsmen of cinema, namely Tsukamoto Shinya, Ishii Sogo, Ogata Akira and Sion Sono, helped spark a new wave of creativity in the Japanese film industry in the 1980s.
First up is Shinya’s gore-ridden cyberpunk film, Tetsuo: The Iron Man. This is not a film for the faint-hearted with its opening scene containing the cutting of live human flesh. Moreover, the film only doubles down from thereon out. The story continues as a black-and-white feat of manic revenge, told through shock, cutaway scenes and complete absurdity. The 67 minute film is low-budget, and it shows, but that doesn’t take away from Shinya’s unique vision.
The Adventures in Super 8 programmes 1 and 2 comprise two nights of the festival. Programme 1 includes another gift from Shinya, his 1988 creation The Adventure of Denchu-Kozo, along with Sogo’s The Isolation of 1/880000. The Adventure of Denchu-Kozo, also referred to as The adventures of Electric-Rod boy, concerns a metal-human monster and also involves time travel. Sogo’s The Isolation, meanwhile, tells the tale of a lonely man living in Tokyo. It employs slow-motion animation and pixellation to create a unique example of Sogo’s early cinematic storytelling.
Programme 2 is another double bill. With a run-time of under forty minutes, I am Sion Sono!! is an intimate artist’s journal, documenting Sono’s move from notable teen poet prodigy to young director. The self-portrait is arrogant in how nonchalant Sono is in making a film all about himself and his work. It is also energetic, raunchy and seemingly scriptless. In quite an odd pairing, next up comes Tokyo Cabbageman K, the 1980 work of director Akira Ogata. Unless anyone dares a remake, it may well be the only film you ever watch whose entire plot centres around a man waking up to find a cabbage in place of his head.
The final solo screening, Sono’s Cold Fish, is the only film of the series not to have come out of the 1980s (instead it was released in Japan in 2011). The parallels in the picture with the now-controversial director’s earlier work in the decade is perhaps the reason it was chosen. Fitting with the theme, this is a story loosely based on real-life homicides, with some black comedy thrown in for good measure.
The Early Films of Japan’s Punk Generation runs from 9th to 23rd October. Tickets can be purchased from www.homemcr.org.