Japanese Avant-garde & Experimental Film Festival returns with JAEFF 2021: Bodies [16 to 19 SEP]

Japanese Avant-garde & Experimental Film Festival has announced a full programme for their 2021 edition, & it’s all about ‘Bodies’. Screening at Barbican [16 to 19 SEP] & then online [20 to 30 SEP].

By RADIANT CIRCUS // Twitter @radiantcircus | Instagram @radiantcircus

Japanese Avant-garde and Experimental Film Festival was founded in 2017 by Joshua Smith and George Crosthwait with the aim of making Japanese avant-garde and experimental cinema accessible to practical, theoretical, and popular audiences alike. That means their previous programmes have been packed-full of distinctive films and filmmakers, presented in open and accessible ways for almost anyone to enjoy.

This third edition of the JAEFF explores the body and sensation, and features work from directors Kon Ichikawa, Toshio Matsumoto, Susumu Hani, Chiaki Nagano, Takahiko Iimura, Tatsumi Kumashiro, Shuji Terayama and more. The programme includes seven film screenings and one panel discussion with everything taking place at Barbican (16 to 19 SEP) and then online (20 to 30 SEP – all apart from the opening night film).

Festival organisers had this to say about their programme:

“In a time where words, facts and logic are increasingly ineffectual, powerless and absurd, this year’s programme attempts to make sense of the nonsensical. Finding that sometimes, the most powerful form of expression is often what we feel, rather than what we can say, write, or even think.”



BOXER d. Shuji Terayama, 1977 screens at JAEFF 2021: Bodies.

The festival opens with a very rare 16mm screening of Susumu Hani’s 1968 film, NAMAMI: THE INFERNO OF FIRST LOVE. Hani’s “endlessly inventive web of young love and seedy underworld forces” is paired with Asuka Lin’s post-cyberpunk Super 8 film, A.I. MAMA (2020), featuring a young non-binary programmer who attempts to reconnect with their lost mother. The evening is introduced by Jennifer Coates.

Elsewhere in the programme you can find a pair of screenings celebrating the co-founders of Japanese dance theatre butoh, Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno series of pink films with Tatsumi Kumashiro’s “existential shag-a-thon”, LOVERS ARE WET (introduced by Jasper Sharp / our main featured image), and, collapsing the line between mainstream sports drama and formal invention, avant-garde hero Shuji Terayama’s BOXER, “arguably the greatest boxing film ever made”. A panel discussion of historians and academic will explore the films and themes from the festival.

JAEFF 2021 concludes with an afternoon of films from the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics. First, NIPPON EXPRESS CARRIES THE OLYMPICS TO TOKYO is Shinkichi Noda and Toshio Matsumoto’s “showcase of the behind-the-scenes detail and labour required to host a mass sporting spectacle”. This early work from the counter-culture legend and director of FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES screens with TOKYO STORY, a surreal short from Hal Torii (2019). The rush to the finish line then comes in the form of a spectacular 4K restoration of TOKYO OLYMPIAD (1964), a 169min documentary from director Kon Ichikawa who “tears up the documentary playbook for this thrilling cinematic record of the 1964 Summer Olympics”. The closing screening is introduced by Dolores Martinez.

This is a film still from LOVERS ARE WET.

JAEFF 2021: Bodies screens at Barbican [16 to 19 SEP] & then online [20 to 30 SEP] & is booking now!




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