02 April 2016

Veil (幕, 2014)

Veil (/Maku, 2014) is the latest animated short by Yoriko Mizushiri (水尻自子, 1984).  Her minimalist pale pastel works like Futon (布団, 2012) and Snow Hut (かまくら, 2013), have been winning acclaim at international festivals in recent years.   Veil premiered at the Berlinale in 2015, and I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen at Oberhausen 2015.  It is now available on DVD the DVD L’Animation Indépendante Japonaise, Vol. 3.  Available from Heeza or amazon.fr.

Although Veil is the official English title, the Japanese title “Maku” () translates more accurately as curtain.  I am guessing the word “veil” has been chosen because as a verb it sounds more poetic and mysterious than “curtain”.  Yet, the film opens not with a veil but with a rising curtain on what the synopsis describes as a Kyōgen stage.  The Kyōgen stage is the same as a Noh stage, for Kyōgen was traditionally the comic relief between the acts of a Noh drama.  The stage features a multi-coloured curtain, or “agemaku” (揚幕), a symbol of the border between one world and another.  The reference to Kyōgen, which literally means “mad words” or “wild speech” is an ironic one for there is no speech in a Mizushiri animated short. 

Clouds, feet sliding across the ground on banana-shaped cushions.  A monkey in a suit sits with a rope around its waist.  Women’s bare legs sitting on office chairs.  Ikura (salmon roe) from an ikura sushi float like bubbles in the air and pushed by a slender female finger.  As is typical for the style of Mizushiri, everyday places and items become extraordinary through her use of close-ups and unusual perspectives.  The commonplace becomes erotic and the combination of sensual imagery with a compelling soundtrack by electronica artist Shunta Hasunuma (蓮沼執太, b.1983) results in an engaging audience experience.

2016 Cathy Munroe Hotes