Sunday, September 21, 2008

Shinji Imaoka at the Imaginary Japan Conference

Mr. Shinji Imaoka, film director, guest of The Helsinki International Film Festival (Love & Anarchy), visited the Imaginary Japan Conference (Japaneseness and Fantasy in Contemporary Popular Culture) organized by Suomen Elokuvatutkimuksen Seura (SETS, The Society of Finnish Moving Image Researchers). The Saturday programme took place in Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 20 September 2008. The host interviewer was Alex Zahlten, and the translator, Mr. Sami Hilvo.

Mr. Shinji Imaoka is one of the "seven lucky gods of the Pinku Eiga". He shoots Japanese sex films on 35mm, shot in one week, on low budget, with a team of amazing pros, they are rated 18, the duration ca 60 min, five sex scenes are obligatory.

In his youth Imaoka was impressed by the roman porno genre, now extinct. Imaoka: they started me as a film maker, at 25 I became assistant director of pinku eiga, at 30, director. - In annual pink festivals, Imaoka receives awards. Renamed, his films reach art cinemas, expanded by half an hour, and those 90 min versions are called "director's cuts". The pink films have even a female fan base. - Issues of sex are eternal.

Excerpts were shown from data files with English subtitles.

Tamamono (Lunch Box, JP 2004). Protagonist: a young woman who does not speak, boyfriend at post office, woman prepares lunch boxes for him, but he is no good. In the excerpt a talking black head persuades: "strike". The man is seen in a pool of blood. The woman has been neglected, she internalizes the killing, it's the first time she feels free, that moment brings her freedom.
In pink films the more sex the more it is accepted, but ther has to be more, more feeling, it has to move.
Imaoka: I did not feel myself as part of a group.
Yumika Hayashi (1970-2005) was the star of the new porn for 15 years, a beautiful, wonderful actress.
Now working with a monster-pink film mix, and a musical-pink mix.

Ojisan tengoku (Uncle's Paradise, JP 2006) is set on a small coastal town, realist setting turns surrealist, there is a pathway to hell, the monster is a squid, man approaches woman forcibly, the squid kills a man whose face is spotted, there is a wake at the coffin.
The films have changed, there is the ensemble, they were more melancholy, now getting more dynamic. Imaoka: I'm not aware of a change, but the circumstances are different, friends have died. The strange insect comes back to life from hell.

Tasogare (JP 2008). A story of sex among seniors, tenderness among the elderly. The Buddhist woman and the amorous man. Sexual tenderness interrupted by a lullaby and by a flashback to youth, the girl slapping the boy's oversized penis.
Imaoka: the performers are almost amateurs, the screenwriter Akira Taniguchi (65) is a first-timer, a former teacher of ethics at high school. Old classmates get a new life. Based on personal experiences.
The pinku eiga films are screened in special pinku eiga cinemas. They are old, worn out, run-down. The art cinemas are high class, very nice.
There is an industry self-censorship body in Japan.
The reason for using 35mm is purely financial.

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