The Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam and The Onion Cellar proudly present the Japanese Music Film Weekend “OTO│EIGA” in Hanoi from Friday 14 – Sunday 16 September 2012.
We all know that saying – “Without music, life would be a mistake”. Imagine a rather nightmare-ish scenario in which music did not exist, and in particular – not in Japan. How big a mistake would that be?
Because, quite frankly, no one does music like the Japanese.
When it comes to music, Japan is like a huge crossroad, a special place where musical genres from all over the world meet and clash with each other. Every time a new element enters the scene, it is immediately absorbed, disassembled, examined, tested, mixed with other ingredients, and finally transformed into something entirely new and uniquely ‘Nippon’, from which multiple subgenres consequently spring out in all directions. There simply is no boundary. Diversity is the rule.
It is this open-mindedness that helped develop a Japanese music scene that manages to outdo even the British or the American one, despite Japan not being the cradle of modern music. Here is a country that boasts thousands of bands playing live every night, in its capital city alone. Somehow, it mirrors that sense of wonder the economy has experienced after the War.
With five screenings spanning over three days and utilizing the documentary medium, OTO | EIGA thus acts as a window into various incarnations of contemporary Japanese music: from electronic beats and urban rumblings of big cities, to esoteric sounds inspired by nature and mythology, and everything in between. As the name (roughly translated as Sound | Film) implies, these films are beautiful treats to the eyes as much as they are to the ears, and expected to inspire both the local audience and the artists in Vietnam.
Weekend opener Live From Tokyo (2010/dir. Lewis Rapkin) paints a widescreen soundscape of Tokyo’s alternative music scene, where we meet artists that possess such natural desire to explore and experiment it almost feels bizarre at times. Welcome to a world where ideas and genres are pushed to their extremes, with the general sentiment that there is new music waiting to be created. Needless to say, weird sounds are many: that of two drummers battling it out with computer game music, for instance. Artists featured: Nissennenmondai, Tenniscoats, Optrum, Sexy-Synthesizer, Kirihito, D.V.D., Zoobombs, and many many more.
Other four films focus specifically on some of the most unique Japanese artists working these days. Holy Ground (2010/dir. Jeremy Johnstone) captures the post-rock giant MONO at the highest peak ten years into their career: performing an anniversary concert with the 24-piece Wordless Music Orchestra, wrapping their already destructively powerful sound with a whole new layer of emotional intensity.
On the other hand, Live Tape (2009/dir. Tetsuaki Matsue) is all about intimacy, the intimacy of following singer-songwriter Kenta Maeno as he wanders through the streets of Kichijoji on the first day of 2009, performing songs about life and love. It is also an intimacy that could only be achieved in a film made in one take, with minimum equipment and no script – the ultimate new-wave film.
Elsewhere, we are introduced to Kazuki Tomokawa (veteran folk musician, actor, painter, poet, horse racing commentator, ‘screaming philosopher’) in La Faute Des Fleurs (2009), directed by the acclaimed French director Vincent Moon (a member of La Blogothèque collective). Thanks to a dedicated fan, Vincent is invited to Japan to make a film about Tomokawa (or rather, Tomokawa’s strange and somehow tragic past), someone he describes as coming straight out of a Yakuza film, but once made a living selling his poems on the streets of Tokyo, and is now a well-respected figure of the alternative folk scene worldwide.
Finally, closing the weekend is KanZeOn (2011/dir. Neil Cantwell & Tim Grabham). Looking at three very special musicians: Akinobu Tatsumi, a ‘hip-hop priest’; Eri Fuji, a player of sho (an ancient instrument thought to evoke the phoenix’s cry); and Akihiro Itomi, a master of Noh theatre who is also into jazz, the film takes the audience on a sonic journey into the mysterious worlds of traditional Japanese music, theatre, philosophy and Shintoism. KanZeOn takes place mostly in the pristine setting of Kyushu Island, the third largest island in Japan.
■ Credit Organized by: The Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam
The Onion Cellar
Curated by: The Onion Cellar
The Onion Cellar is a Vietnam-based independent arts project that aims to promote alternative culture and introduce lesser-known artists to the local audience. They frequently organize official screenings of unique films that normally would not be heard of in Vietnam, and (occasionally) concerts. The group has also collaborated with a number of cultural organizations (both local and foreign) that all share the same vision of inspiring the audience. www.facebook.com/theonioncellar ■ Remarks All films are in Japanese with subtitles in both Vietnamese and English.
Free of admission
Free tickets are available from 14:00 on Friday 31 August at:
The Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam