by Chris MaGee
Once again here is a report from the outer fringes of the world of Japanese film and visual culture. If you happen to be in the Tokyo area between November 28th and December 12th you'll have the rare opportunity to catch an extensive retrospective of one of Japan's most respected experimental filmmakers, Takashi Ito, at Image Forum.
Born in Fukuoka in 1956 Ito grew up with a talent for drawing and a love for Osamu Tezuka, but his artistic direction and ambitions took a whole new direction once he enrolled the Kyushu University of Art and Design. It was there that he studied under avant-garde film master Toshio Matsumoto, director of the famed "Funeral Parade of Roses". After graduation Ito would go on to produce dozens of groundbreaking films, including his best known work 1981's "Spacy" (above). That 10-minute film of the inside of a school gymnasium might sound simple, but Ito constructed it out of 700 individual photos through which he explores and expands upon the empty space of the gym.
Along with "Spacy" this retrospective will feature 31 of Ito's films, but if aren't going to be in Tokyo during December or live elsewhere never fear. Image Forum has compiled 20 of Takashi Ito's films into a 2-disc region free DVD package that you can order here.