by Chris MaGee
Here's a film that was initially released in 2006 that I haven't seen a lot of coverage for, even though it's been doing the rounds of some major festivals recently, namely The Asian Hot Shots festival that took place in Berlin in January and most recently at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.
Titled "Vermilion Sands" it marks the directorial debut of butoh dancer, choreographer and teacher Masaki Iwana. According to the English language site for the film Iwana had harbored an interest in filmmaking since the late 60s, but it wasn't until the death of his ex-wife in 2002 that he completed the screenplay for this surreal tale of childhood discovery and grown-up loss.
In 1952 Tokyo a boy is lead astray after chasing propaganda fliers for an American plane and ends up at an old mansion with four very strange tenants: a calligrapher with hooves for hands, a prostitute still suffers the effects of a botched double suicide, a deaf mute who also can't walk and lastly a woman who has just attempted to hang herself on the morning the boy shows up at the mansion. All of these characters are unable to venture into the sunlight and all are waiting some kind of execution that they will be occurring shortly. A former kamikaze pilot who guards the house, though, isn't saying when this will happen. I know, not very sunny stuff for a Friday, but as Iwana says the film is about "skill of life that dares to live death".
If you like your films on the obscure and artsy side then check out the trailer for "Vermilion Souls" below.