Curator's Note

One of the last major Japanese directors active since the 1960s, Nobuhiko Obayashi is a wonderful study in contrasts. Little known outside of Japan, he finally gained a following in the U.S. with the DVD release of his debut feature film House. His work, however, is even more varied and rich than that trippy horror film. A pioneer of Japanese experimental film in Japan (for example: Complexe), Obayashi also was an innovator in the production of TV commercials and has created numerous commercially successful feature films. Working in popular genres ranging from the mystery (Reason) to the girl idol movie (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time), he never fails to make each work an exploration of cinematic form. Steeped in pop culture (The Rocking Horsemen, the film that first convinced me of his brilliance), his films are also erudite and often literary in tone. Often trying out the newest visual technologies, he also looks back on the past of both Japanese cinema, honoring masters like Yasujiro Ozu (Bound for the Fields, the Mountains and the Seacoast), and Japan itself, evoking the nightmares of war and atomic holocaust (Seven Weeks). His worldview is often defined by nostalgia (Haruka, Nostalgia or The Discarnates), particularly for a lost love, while also being consciously artificial (Sada), a stance evident in the words "A Movie" that he attaches to many of his films. Ultimately, Nobuhiko Obayashi is firmly rooted in both the local, particularly his hometown of Onomichi (I Are You, You Am Me) and the past, but his adventure in cinema is, we can say, universal and still very contemporary. Such contrasts have made him both fascinating and complex--one of the most bountiful of Japanese filmmakers.
--Aaron Gerow

Aaron Gerow is Professor of East Asian Cinema and Culture at Yale University and has published widely on variety of topics in Japanese film and popular culture. His books include Visions of Japanese Modernity: Articulations of Cinema, Nation, and Spectatorship, 1895-1925 (2010); A Page of Madness: Cinema and Modernity in 1920s Japan (2008); and Kitano Takeshi (2007). He also runs his own Japanese film website, Tangemania.

Denis Cordier is a filmmaker working in Los Angeles, Paris and Tokyo. His short films have been awarded at Chicago Film Festival, WorldFest Houston and Kyoto Indies. He has been active in the distribution and promotion of Japanese independent films for 15 years, curating Japanese programs in Clermont Ferrand, Vila do Conde and Hong Kong Independent film festivals. He is now preparing a major retrospective of Nobuhiko Obayashi.

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