Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Aoyama Shinji's monster doco finished at last

Aoyama Shinji's 7-hour and 23-minute-long documentary "AA" is to open at Athene Francais Cultural Center in Tokyo on December 12th.

It's a portrait of music critic Aida Akira, who introduced free jazz and progressive rock to Japan in the 1970s before passing on at the age of 32. Told through interviews with musicians and critics who knew him, this collaboration between Aoyama and students from The Film School of Tokyo (Eiga Bigakko) ended up taking five years to complete.

The project started out as an assignment for one of the classes Aoyama teaches at the school, with filming to take place over the course of a year and culminating in a two-hour work. However, its objective of examining not only music but also the general culture of the 1970s through Aida led to the shooting of around 120 hours worth of digital video footage, which impelled the students who comprised the film's crew to stick with the production over the five years until its completion.

Because of its length, the documentary will only be screened once a day. Staff are advising viewers to bring a packed lunch and chill out in the basement cafeteria during the three intermissions. (sources: Nikkan Sports & Sendai Mediatheque)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Rare print of early Tsuburaya Eiji film discovered in Kyoto

A print of "Godzilla" and "Ultraman" SFX legend Tsuburaya Eiji's first film as a special effects director, thought to have been destroyed in the aftermath of WWII, has been uncovered in Kyoto.

"Kaigun Bakugekitai" (1940), sponsored by the Naval Ministry of Japan and produced by Toho, was thought to have been destroyed by its makers in fear of prosecution by the American occupation forces. Directed by Kimura Sotoji and starring Tezuka Katsumi, Fujita Susumu and Uno Jukichi, it depicts an aerial battle between naval bombers and enemy fighters over China using a mix of miniature aircraft and actual aerial footage shot by the navy.

Osaka University of Arts Professor Ota Yoneo discovered a degraded 16mm print last year at the house of a collector in Kyoto, and carried out a 35mm restoration at the university. The 50-minute shortened version of the original 78-minute film will be screened on October 25th at the Goethe-Institut Kyoto as part of the 5th Kyoto Film Festival. (sources: Sports Hochi & Asahi)