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Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 18:45 - 21:30

An extraordinary musical masterpiece returns to public view

Sneak Preview Screening: The Ondekoza (Za Ondekoza)
featuring a Q&A with acclaimed musician Eitetsu Hayashi and
remastering producer Tetsuya Nakagawa

Wednesday, December 14 at 6:45 pmondekoza 356p copy
In Japanese with English subtitles
Japan, 1981 105 minutes

Directed by: Tai Kato
Produced by: Yasuyoshi Tanaka
Designed by: Tadanori Yokoo, Chiyo Umeda
Featuring: Eitetsu Hayashi, Toshio Kawauchi,
Yoshiaki Oi, Yoshikazu Fujimoto, Takumi Takano, Mitsuru Mori

Film courtesy of Shochiku

Thirty-five years after its heralded premiere and subsequent disappearance from public view, the extraordinary musical masterpiece "The Ondekoza" has returned in a blaze of cinematic glory.

Marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of director Tai Kato (1916-1985), Shochiku has digitally remastered the documentary, and world-premiered the new version at the Venice Film Festival in September. It was an instant conversation piece, not only for its glorious visuals and dazzling musical performances, but also for its use of the most advanced photographic techniques.

Kato began shooting in 1979 and continued for two years, following the young people who had formed a Japanese music ensemble in 1971 on Sado Island, north of Niigata, under the leadership of Tagayasu Den. The group, called Ondekoza, was living, working and training together in Spartan conditions, crafting their own instruments, creating their own choreography and sewing their costumes. They were running together, too, building up physical stamina, as they traversed many miles across the island's rugged terrain. Kato's film captures these daily routines, as well as the rehearsals and concerts in local halls, and the efforts to adapt traditional folk pieces to fit their burgeoning repertoire.

And then, suddenly, "The Ondekoza" explodes into the most strikingly beautiful musical film ever made, with stunning music-and-dance performances of Devil Sword Dance (Oni kenbai), O-Shichi of the Tower (Yagura no O-Shichi), Changing Cherry Blossom Song (Sakura Hensokyoku), The Big Taiko (Odaiko), Monochrome II (Monokuromu II), Float Orchestra (Yatai bayashi) and Tsugaru Shamisen (Tsugarujamisen).

Working with legendary designer Tadanori Yokoo and Chiyo Umeda, who create colorful, otherworldly sets, Kato's unique camera techniques match their visual brilliance, capturing the performers as they achieve astonishing levels of virtuosity, transforming the screen into a perfect expression of art’s transcendent power.

Please join us for this sneak preview of the unforgettable "The Ondekoza" ahead of its Japanese release on January 21, 2017.

For the trailer:

EITETSU HAYASHI, globally acclaimed solo taiko pioneer, grew up in a Buddhist temple in Hiroshima Prefecture, and joined Ondekoza at 19. He stayed with the group for 11 years, during which time they performed immediately after running the full Boston Marathon each year from 1975 – 1981. In 1981, Hayashi cofounded the taiko group Kodo, which quickly achieved global fame. In 1982, he commenced a solo career, and in 1984, debuted with the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, the first-ever solo taiko performer to do so. Beginning with Manrei (Man Ray) in 1998, Hayashi has composed and staged a series of concerts inspired by artists, including Ito Jakuchu and Tsuguharu (Leonard) Foujita, and has continued to tour around the world, collaborating with a variety of top orchestras and musicians. He is renowned for his virtuosity, his physical stamina and his range, fusing traditional, classical, jazz, rock and world music.

TETSUYA NAKAGAWA, manager of Shochiku's Home Entertainment & Licensing Division, has been with the company for 20 years. He is responsible for the digital remastering of "The Ondekoza," as well as many other titles in Shochiku's vast library. One recent project was the release of a magazine and DVDs of the popular "Hissatsu" jidaigeki TV series of the 1970s – 1990s, about hired assassins who pose as merchants in old Edo.

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

ondekoza 290p.jpg
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