Friday, March 26, 2010

Hot Docs brings a treasure trove of Japan-themed documentaries to Toronto

by Chris MaGee

When your main film focus is Japanese film the annual Hot Docs documentary film festival here in Toronto can either be feast or famine. There are years when there may be no Japanese documentaries, or one or two that only have a tangential connection to Japan and then there are years like this one when I find myself wanted to cram in doc after doc into my viewing schedule.

In amongst the 168 films announced at a press conference this past Tuesday the Hot Docs programmers included six films that will have anyone interested in Japanese culture heading to pick up their Hot Docs tickets and passes. They are:

Eat the Kimono: Kim Loginotto's and Clair Hunt's documentary on dancer, feminist activist and star of Masaru Konuma's 1974 pink film "Tattooed Flower Vase" Hanayagi Genshu. Infampus in Japan for her unconventional ideas and her stabbing of her dance teacher, for which she served eight months in prison, Genshu believe that wmen in Japan mustn't be eaten by the kimono but to "eat the kimono."

Gaea Girls: Another film by Kim Loginotto, this time in collaboration with Jano Williams, about all female Japanese pro-wrestlers. "Gaea Girls" follows Takeuchi, a new recruit who goes from the strict backstage training regimine to the punishing spotlight, fighting in front of adoring fans.

Diary of an Urban Priest: Finnish filmmaker Pirjo Honkasalo creates a riveting portrait of former boxer and now guitar playing, motorcycle riding Buddhist priest Yoshinobu Fujioka who ministers to those living on the margins in Tokyo's nightclubs and bars.

Shinjuku Boys(above): The final film by Kim Loginotto, again with Jano Williams, "Shinjuku Boys" explores women living their lives as men and working at Tokyo's New Marilyn Club where straight women who have become disillusioned with male companionship seek out (mostly) sexless affection from this hosts/ hostesses.

The Invention of Dr. Nakamats: Danish artist Kaspar Astrup Schröder turns filmmaker to introduce us to the inventor of the floppy disk, compact disc, as well as 3,375 other patents - 80-year-old Dr. Yoshiro NakaMats. An eccentric who won the Nobel Prize for Nutrition after he felt compelled to document every meal he ate for 34 consecutive years and whose current goal it to live to the ripe old age of 144.

We Don't Care About Music Anyway: Yoshihide Otomo, Umi no Yeah!!!, Numb & Saidrum and Hiromichi Sakamoto are just some of the artists highlighted in French directors Cedric Dupire and Gaspard Kuentz look at Tokyo's thriving experimental and noise music scene.

Hot Docs 2010 runs from April 29th to May 9th. To get more details on the full line-up as well as tickets and passes visit the official Hot Docs website here.

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