by Chris MaGee
It was great to see the folks at Viz Pictures pick up the entire "Near Equal" contemporary artist documentaries series last year. Us Japanese cinephiles often get a bit of tunnel vision when it comes to Japanese visual culture and focus on just what's being released in theatres and these documentaries give us all a chance to broaden our horizons a bit with some thought-provoking DVDs. Now it looks like those of us in Toronto will be getting to see two of these "Near Equal" documentaries on the big screen when Koji Sakabe's "Traveling with Yoshitomo Nara" and Takako Matsumoto's "Yayoi Kusama: I Love Me" will be premiering here in the city as part of the Canadian Art Reel Artists Film Festival.
"Traveling with Yoshitomo Nara" follows the 36-year-old pop artist, best known for his paintings of menacing, large-headed children, as he collaborates on project called A to Z that has 26 rooms of a building each dedicated to a letter of the alphabet. "Yayoi Kusama: I Love Me" is a rare portrait of this eccentric icon of the 20th (and now 21st) century avant-garde art world as she attempts to complete a series of large scale drawings.
Both documentaries will be screening on Friday, February 26th at the Miles Nadal JCC, Al Green Theatre (750 Spadina Ave.) here in the city, but the best thing is that the 2:30PM screening of "Traveling with Yoshitomo Nara" is part of the festival's Free Student Screenings. Yes, that's right - FREE. For "Yayoi Kusama" at 9:30PM tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door and $7 for students.
You can read Marc Saint-Cyr's review of "Traveling with Yoshitomo Nara" here and check out the trailer for "Yayoi Kusama: I Love Me" below. For more information on and ticket info for the Canadian Art Reel Artists Film Festival, which runs here in the city from February 24th to 28th, check out their official website here.
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