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Monday, November 21, 2016, 19:00 - 21:30

Big Muscles, Dramatic Dreams, Frenzied Fans
Sneak Preview Screening:
DDT; We Are Japanese Wrestlers (Oretachi Bunkakei Puro-Resu DDT)
featuring a Q&A with co-directors Tetsuaki Matsue and Muscle Sakai

Monday, November 21 at 7:00 pmDDT 356p
In Japanese with English subtitles
Japan, 2016 74 minutes  

Directed by: Muscle Sakai, Tetsuaki Matsue
Executive Producer: Sanshiro Takagi
Featuring: Ken Ohka, Harashima, Danshoku Dieno, Muscle Sakai, Sanshiro Takagi,
Kudo, Gota Ihashi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Yohei Komatsu
Music: Jim O'Rourke

Film courtesy of Live Viewing Japan                

We may never see this sport at the Olympics, but that doesn't mean its practitioners aren't every bit as dedicated to training and determined to win as any Olympic athlete - nor that its many millions of fans aren't as justifiably devoted. Just check the number of fansites and Twitter feeds, or the SRO audiences that consistently throng venerable halls like Budokan and Kokugikan: Professional wrestling is very serious business indeed.

But thanks to the Dramatic Dream Team (DDT), it is also sometimes very silly business, with matches that strike a perfect balance between the hair-raising and the hilarious.

If you've ever wondered how pro wrestling - "puroresu" on these shores - could have become a $100 million sport in Japan alone, join us for this sneak peek of "DDT: We Are Japanese Wrestlers," preceded by a live PowerPoint presentation (you read that right) by DDT star Super Sasadango Machine, custom-created for his first-ever FCCJ appearance.

From its Japanese beginnings with the great Rikidozan and Giant Baba, through Antonio Inoki, the spirit and presentation of proresu have been more high-minded, with fewer theatrics, than the western version. Still considered primarily a combat sport - originating with Inoki's introduction of traditional martial arts into the mix - proresu matches in Japan have always been presented as real competitions, with grueling, body-slamming, high-flying action.

Enter DDT, short for Dramatic Dream Team, founded in 1997 by Sanshiro Takagi, who was bent on elevating proresu to an art. Under Takagi, DDT began injecting matches with a far greater theatrical verve, incorporating stories and comedy (often scripted by Muscle Sakai), bringing their style closer to the entertaining mayhem of western wrestling. DDT's astounding athleticism, creative costuming and dazzling choreography soon made it one of the top names in indie wrestling. Their style was dubbed "cultural" puroresu for its theatrics, as well as for Super Sasadango Machine's introductory Power Point presentations before every tournament.

"DDT: We Are Japanese Wrestlers" jumps restlessly from one contest to the next, as if suffering from attention-deficit disorder, quickly orienting viewers to the style of coverage favored by Japan's premier sports channel, Samurai TV, where the team has a wildly popular hour-long timeslot. As DDT approaches its 20th anniversary, the film is a fittingly scruffy tribute to its staying power. Documenting a year of matches and backstage stories, we discover these rough-n-tumble customers have very soft underbellies indeed (they even submit to "popularity ranking" contests, much like boy bands).

By the film's final tag-team matches in late 2015, you'll find your heart going out to Ken Ohka and Harashima, as they finally get their chance to go up against the bruisers of New Japan Pro Wrestling, the country's No. 1 agency (founded by Inoki). Not quite a classic underdog contest, since the DDT have fought their way to a No. 2 ranking, there is still much at stake. Why should trampoline and synchronized swimming be the only contests that inspire levity during the Olympic Games? It's too late for 2020, but with athletic prowess of this heart-pounding level, surely there's an outside chance for pro wrestling on the next go-around?

Please join us for this sneak preview of "DDT: We Are Japanese Wrestlers" ahead of its Japanese release on November 26.

For more (in Japanese): http://liveviewing.jp/obpw2016/
For more on DDT (English): https://www.facebook.com/ddtpro2/

Acclaimed documentary director TETSUAKI MATSUE debuted with the riveting "Annyong Kimchi" in 1999, an exploration of his own Korean-Japanese heritage. He received the Best Picture Award in the TIFF Japanese Eyes section for "Live Tape" (2009). His "Tokyo Drifter" (2011) and "Flashback Memories 3D" (2012) also won many awards. Matsue is active on TV, co-directing the hit 2015 series "Takayuki Yamada in Tokyo-to Kita-ku Akabane," and frequently produces the work of others.

Wrestler-writer-filmmaker MUSCLE SAKAI (aka Super Sasadango Machine) hails from Niigata, where he runs the family molding factory. He is famous for his wrestling as well as the rousing PowerPoint presentations he delivers before each match. His first feature film was "Gekijoban ProResu Cannon Ball" (2014). He joined the Shochiku Geino Agency in 2015, and currently appears on many variety TV shows.Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk (3211-3161) or register below. You may attend the Q&A session without attending the screening, but you will not have seating priority. Please reserve in advance, still & TV cameras inclusive. All film screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.         

- Karen Severns, Film Committee

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