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Archive: Fall 2004

JPEX: Japanese Experimental
Film and Video Festival

The playful insistence and explosive subversion of Japanese experimental film traditions remain neglected terrain for North American audiences. In an effort to globalize what has often been a primarily Western understanding of postwar experimentalism and a distinctly American disinterest in Japanese filmic experimentation, JPEX: Japanese Experimental Film and Video, 1955-Now documents the radical media of Japanese experimental film, video, and animation at its fiftieth anniversary.

The Film and Video Center presents three programs from the five-part series–on formal experimentation, critiques of political order, interrogations of systems of sex and gender, the experimental documentary-fiction of Matsumoto Toshio, and contemporary experimentation –provide a rare opportunity to see the extraordinary vitality of Japanese experimental film and video work.

—Jonathan Hall

Program 1: Expanded Visions
October 14 • 7:30pm

In Expanded Visions, the first program of the JPEX ser-ies, the extraordinary canon of mid-century Japanese formal experimentation comprised by well-recognized experimentalists such as Ito Takashi, Matsumoto Toshio, Nakajima Takashi, Okuyama Jun’ichi, and Yamazaki Hiro-shi, is expanded and enriched in the light of the powerful and pioneering work of feminist filmmaker Idemitsu Mako, animators Tanaami Keiichi and Furukawa Taku, and contemporary contributors to formal play.


Program 2: Exploded States:
War, Politics and National Identity
October 15 • 7pm

In Exploded States: War Politics, and National Identity, the importance of political and social critique for post-war Japanese experimentation is made apparent. Here, Japanese experimental film and video comes to its closest intersection with experimental theater and avant-garde performance. The films draw from and contribute to “happenings” staged by avant-gardists in the Hi Red Center group, an intercontinental Fluxus movement, and Hijikata Tatsumi’s butoh dance. Viewed together, works by Hosoe Eiko, Kawanaka Nobuhiro, and Terayama Shuji, among others, exhibit a delightful irony and playful insubordination to state, collective, and perspectival authority.


Program 3: Sex underground
October 15 • 9pm

The films and videos in Sex Underground rebel against workaday conventions of gender, sexuality, the body, and subjectivity. Utilizing theatrical traditions and a powerful per-formative agency, film and video makers such as Ito Takashi, Nakajima Takashi, Donald Richie, Terayama Shuji and Imaizumi Koichi subvert and then reconfigure sexual difference, queer subjectivity, and gender performativity. From Idemitsu Mako’s lighthearted invocation of tra-ditional gender roles and Tamano Shin’ichi’s perversely magical realism to Saito Yukie’s terrifying and oppressive exploration of male-female power dynamics, the films and videos in Sex Underground collectively suggest unexpected, yet open pathways for desire and subjectivity.

Co-curated by Chicago-based filmmaker and film programmer Michelle Puetz and UCI Assistant Professor Jonathan M. Hall, the JPEX project has been supported by the Humanities Center and the Film and Video Center at UCI as well as by the University of Chicago. JPEX begins its North American tour from the UCI campus. These screenings are co-sponsored by the Center for Asian Studies.


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