02 May 2014

Koji Yamamura Retrospective at Nippon Connection 2014

Nippon Connection 2014 will be holding a retrospective of the career of acclaimed independent animator Kōji Yamamura on May 30,2014.  Yamamura himself will be in attendance and I am honoured to announce that I will be hosting a Q+A with him after the screenings.

Yamamura has received numerous awards in his career including Grand Prix at several prestigious festivals (Annecy 2003, Zagreb 2004, Hiroshima 2004, et al.) and an Oscar nomination (2003).  His films bring together cultural influences from not only his native country but also from abroad, particularly Canada (Norman McLaren, Ishu Patel, et al.)  and Europe (Yuri Norstein, Priit Pärn, et al.).  His work also demonstrates the influence of literature, with some of his films being inspired by such varied works as Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor, Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Library of Babel” (Fictions), the Kojiki (the oldest extant text of Japanese mythology), and traditional rakugo storytelling (Atama Yama). 

The retrospective is a cross-section of his works since 1998. This includes some of his most critically acclaimed films like Mt. Head and Muybridge’s Strings, as well as some of his lesser known works such as Jubilee, the music video he made for a song by Kazuyoshi Nakamura, and Anthology with Cranes, his adaptation of an original painting by 17th century artist Sōtatsu Tawaraya.  See the full listing of films below.

Yamamura is professor of animation at Tokyo University of the Arts (aka Geidai), and will also be presenting a selection of films by recent graduates of the programme at NipponConnection 2014.  He is currently vice-president of the Japanese Animation Association and a member of the board of the Japanese branch of ASIFA.  Yamamura recently opened an animation store and gallery called Au Praxinoscope in Jiyugaoka.  The gallery is currently holding an exhibition on Pritt Pärn which runs until May 31st and will be followed by an Igor Kovalyov solo exhibition. 

Koji Yamamura Retrospective

Date:  Friday, May 30
Time:  17:30
Location:  Naxoshalle Kino
Tickets:  Nippon Connection

Filmmachergespräch mit Koji Yamamura 
Moderation: Cathy Munroe Hotes

Date:  Friday, May 30
Time:  22:15
Location:  Mousonturm Studio 3
Eintritt Frei (Free Entry)

The retrospective will include: 

The Hyuga episode of Kojiki  (古事記 日向篇/ Kojiki Hyūgahen, Japan, NHK, 2013)
Four short episodes from the Kojiki including Japan's creation myth and the emergence of the gods.  I plan to review this one at some time between now and NC2014.  

Mr. Rib Globe (地球肋骨男/Chikyu Rokkotsu Otoko, Japan, 1998)
The oldest Yamamura film in the retrospective, this short short was made for TV.  A surreal little piece about a terrestrial globe with a skeletal structure inside.

Jubilee ( Japan, 1999)
A music video to promote the song by Kazuyoshi Nakamura.

Pieces (おまけ/Omake, 2003)
A playful series of nine vignettes that incorporates visual gags, 19th century animation technology and surrealist humour.  Read my full review here.

Fig (無花果/Ichijiku, Tokyo Loop omnibus, 2006)
Yamamura's contribution to the omnibus animation Tokyo Loop, which combines a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Stuart Blackton's Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906) with an ode to the city of Tokyo.  In Fig, Tokyo Tower and a window transform themselves into characters and roam the nightscape of Tokyo.   Learn more about Tokyo Loop here.

Anthology with Cranes (鶴下絵和歌巻/Tsuru shitae waka kan, Japan, 2011)

five fire fish (Canada, NFB, 2013)
An improvisation on the NFB's iPad app McLaren's Workshop. See my article Direct Animation for the Tablet Generation to learn more.

Mt. Head (頭山/Atama Yama, Japan, 2002)
The first Yamamura animation I ever saw, Mt. Head is an adaptation of a rakugo story in collaboration with rakugo performer and musician Takeharu Kunimoto.  Read more.

The Old Crocodile (年をとった鰐/Toshi wo Totta Wani, Japan, 2005)
An adaptation of French author and illustrator Leopold Chauvaud's "Histoire du vieux crocodile."  Learn more here.

A Child’s Metaphysics (こどもの形而上学/Kodomo no Keijijōgaku, 2007)
A delightful rumination on what it means to be a child.  Read more here.

Muybridge’s Strings (マイブリッジの糸/Maiburijjino Ito, Canada/Japan, NFB, 2011)
A poetic investigation of the nature of time that takes us on a journey into cinematic history.  Learn more in my review.

Catherine Munroe Hotes 2014