Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gakuryu Sogo Ishii returns with surreal "Ikiteru Mono Wa Inai No Ka"

by Chris MaGee

I've been playing a bit of catch up since returning from Tokyo, trying to get news posted that may have been overlooked while Nicholas Vroman and I were in our Tokyo Filmex bubble. One story that got picked up over at our friends Wildgrounds was bout the return of one of Japan's biggest indie film icons.

You'll recall that at the very beginning of 2010 we reported on how "Burst City" and "Electric Dragon 80,000V" director Sogo Ishii had popped back into the spotlight by announcing that he would be changing his name to Gakuryu Ishii and that this new moniker would usher in a new stage in his filmmaking career. Nothing much followed that news though. Ishii kept teaching at Kobe Design University and that was it. Now, for the first time since his hour-long 2006 film "Mirrored Mind" Ishii has returned to the directors chair with a surreal social drama.

Titled "Ikiteru Mono Wa Inai No Ka (Are Any of You Alive?)" the film follows a group of disparate characters whose strange behaviour climaxes in... well, from the trailer below it looks like it could be the end of the world. Ishii based the film on a stage play by Shiro Maeda, and according to Wildgrounds post Ishii claims that he was inspired by Spanish surrealist filmmaker Luis Bunuel and his film "The Exterminating Angel" for "Ikiteru Mono Wa Inai No Ka".

There were actually preview screenings of the film going on in Tokyo when I was there, but sadly I wasn't able to catch one. here's hoping this film makes the rounds on the fest circuit in the next few months.

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