Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Six Questions for ... Gakuryu (Sogo) Ishii

The J-Film Pow-Wow is very proud to start a new monthly feature (posted the first week of each month) which we are calling Six Questions for... Based on the concept of the Proust Questionnaire featured monthly in Vanity Fair Magazine, Six Questions for... will ask a half dozen questions to both established film-makers and to young up-and-coming directors. Keep checking back for upcoming installments to this exciting new component of the J-Film Pow-Wow.

Marauding bikers, punk rock mutants, and electric charged warfare! It was with this army of near-future barbarians that one man conquered Japanese film in the 1980's. His name -- Sogo Ishii. Born in Fukuoka City in 1957 Ishii took his passion for Japan's late 70's burgeoning punk rock scene and committed it to film in such cult classics as "Panic High School", "Crazy Thunder Road", "Burst City" and "The Crazy Family". Midnight Eye's Tom Mes called 1982's "Burst City" a ".... raucous explosion of celluloid artistry," but Ishii wouldn't limit his creativity to just these dystopian visions. Since the beginning of the 1990's his output has ranged from concert films (Einstürzende Neubauten's Halber Mensch), moody police thrillers (Angel Dust) and experimental superhero battles (Electric Dragon 80,000V). Most recently Ishii has been a faculty member in the Department of Media Arts at the Kobe Design University; plus he has undergone a name change. At the beginning of 2010 Ishii announced on his official blog that he would take the name Gakuryu Ishii as part of an artistic rebirth in which he would "work actively as a rookie." CM

1. What movie inspired you to become a film-maker? What was it about the movie that was inspiring?

I don't clearly remember, but the last scene of "Wild Bunch" directed by Sam Pekinpah, that is not only cool but also a violent montage, and also "Easy Rider" by Dennis Hopper. I also may be influenced by Japanese "chanbara" movies and the narrative language of Kinji Fukasaku. When I first shot film, I had not watched any of the French New Wave and other precious films that would influence me strongly.

2. Is there someone you always wanted to work with on a project, but have never had the chance?

Yes, there are many actors, actresses and staff including overseas ones.

3. Please finish this statement: If I had not become a film-maker I would probably be a...

Dead man.

4. Which three people (besides film-makers) have had the biggest influence on you?

Jimi Hendrix, Philip K. Dick, and Thelonious Monk. [After our initial post Ishii contacted us to say he forgot one of his most important influences, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai.]

5. What is your favorite book? Why is it your favorite?

"Como se Cuenta un Cuento" by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. It is very interesting and valuable.

6. What moment in your career has made you most happy/ proud so far?

I am not sure. Maybe I have not had one yet.

Translation by Chikako Evans

Check out Gakuryu (Sogo) Ishii's blog and official website.

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