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Thursday, September 24, 2015, 19:00 - 21:30

A provocative critique of contemporary Japan, by a lifelong rebel

Sneak Preview Screening: "Artist of Fasting (Danjiki Geinin)" featuring a Q&A with
writer-director Masao Adachi, critic Inuhiko Yomota and poet Gozo Yoshimasu

Thursday, September 24 at 7:00 pmArtist of Fasting Danjiki Geinin 7725p
In Japanese with English subtitles
Japan/ South Korea, 2015 105 minutes  
Warning: Adult content

Directed by: Masao Adachi
Written by: Masao Adachi, inspired by Franz Kafka's "A Hunger Artist"
Produced by: Naruhiko Onozawa, Yoshihisa Furukawa, Akira Ootaka, Kazunao Sakaguchi
Starring: Hiroshi Yamamoto, Taizo Sakurai, Sho Ryuzanji, Shoichi Honda, Hiroko Ito, Kanade Ai, Takatsugu Iwama, Jyuri Ihata, Ukan Abeta, Shu Wada, Sankichi Kawamoto; with a special appearance by Gozo Yoshimasu and narration by Tomorowo Taguchi

Film courtesy of Tetracompany                                    

The Film Committee is privileged to present the first Japanese screening of "Artist of Fasting," the new work by activist-artist Masao Adachi. Commissioned and coproduced by the Asian Arts Theatre of Gwanju, South Korea, the film will world premiere there on September 11, without Adachi in attendance. As writer William Andrews explains, "Appropriately for a venue hosting an Adachi work, Gwangju was also the site of a notorious student uprising in May 1980 in which 600 people were killed by the army. Adachi famously has no passport and cannot travel abroad anymore. While Gwangju is much closer than Lebanon, he still won't be able to attend the screening in person."

Arguably the most radical filmmaker in Japanese history, Adachi launched his career in politicized pink films in the 1960s, collaborated with the likes of Nagisa Oshima and Koji Wakamatsu and achieved fame for such works as "AKA: Serial Killer" in 1969 before he found a more worthy cause: Palestinian independence. From the early 1970s, he spent 28 years in Lebanon as a member of Fusako Shigenobu's Japanese Red Army, culminating in a 3-year term in the notorious Roumieh Prison and deportation back to Japan in 2000. Adachi made his belated return to filmmaking in 2007 with "Prisoner/Terrorist," a film that probes the possibility of revolution through cinema today.

Adachi has always believed that art is a form of protest, and he has now adapted Franz Kafka's 1922 short story "Ein Hungerkünstler" (A Hunger Artist) about "the last remaining means of resistance: fasting."

In the beautifully lensed and impressively designed "Artist of Fasting," a nameless man in white (Yamamoto) appears from nowhere and sits down on a busy shopping street. A boy soon asks, "Mister, what are you doing?" Receiving no answer, he takes a photo and uploads it to the internet. The sitting man's unearned celebrity grows, and his silence is interpreted differently by every passerby and onlooker that begins to gather. People bring cash (later grabbed by the yakuza) and food (which the homeless descend upon). The Street Performers' Association attempts to recruit him; monks begin to pray at his side, seeking answers; sexy schoolgirls flash their breasts at him. The press wants to know if he's a victim of Abenomics, and when his fast has entered its 40th day, dub him an "extreme artist." After a forced hospitalization and feeding, the man returns to his spot and eventually, is caged and given an army guard.

In inimitable Adachi style, the story unfolds around the faster's "performance," but also comprises abrupt avant-garde interludes (scenes of Imperial Japanese and ISIS torture), as well as archival footage of victims of aggression (Ainu, Auschwitz). There are rapes, murders, necrophilia, group seppuku, nude dancing, enormous phalluses, feces eating. An intensely allegorical film, there are layers of meaning evoking repression, guilt, corruption, isolation, loss of individual freedom, spiritual poverty.

In short, "Artist of Fasting" encompasses every conceivable ill of modern society. The film was shot by renowned cinematographer Yutaka Yamazaki, a college friend of Adachi's and the DP for award-winning films by Hirokazu Kore-eda and Naomi Kawase, among many others. The production was designed by legendary photographer Nobuyoshi Araki.Please join us for this sneak preview of "Artist of Fasting," with Adachi and several other famous friends in attendance. The film will be released in Japan in spring 2016 at Shibuya Eurospace.

For more:

Writer-director-editor MASAO ADACHI came to attention while still a student at Nihon University for his 1963 film "Closed Vagina." After dropping out and joining Koji Wakamatsu's company, he mass-produced scripts for radically political pink films and debuted as a feature director in 1966 with "Abortion." His 1969 "AKA: Serial Killer" introduced the world to his Marxist "landscape theory." In 1971, he and Wakamatsu joined the guerilla faction of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and shot the propaganda newsreel "The Red Army/ PFLP: Declaration of World War," after which Adachi joined the Japanese Red Army and became a wanted man by Interpol. He later served a 3-year prison term and was deported to Japan in 2000. Adachi's return to filmmaking came in 2007 with "Prisoner/Terrorist," about his Red Army colleague Kozo Okamoto, with autobiographical elements.

INUHIKO YOMOTA is an author, cultural essayist, translator and film historian. He graduated from the University of Tokyo in religious studies, and has taught at Konkuk University, South Korea, Columbia University, the University of Bologna, Tel Aviv University and Pristina University in Kosovo. He was formerly a professor of film studies and comparative literature at Meiji Gakuin University, with a focus on the history of film in Asian countries. He has also published over 80 books on a range of cultural topics, won literary prizes and translated works by American and Palestinian authors into Japanese.

GOZO YOSHIMASU is an acclaimed Japanese poet, photographer, artist and filmmaker. He has published over 30 books of poetry, with many poems that are multilingual, blending elements of French, English, Chinese, Korean, Gaelic and more, and featuring cross-linguistic and typographic wordplay. He has received a number of literary and cultural awards, including the Takami Jun Prize (1971), the Rekitei Prize, the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays (2003) and the 50th Mainichi Art Award for Poetry (2009).

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

Artist of Fasting (Danjiki Geinin) 772585p.jpg
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