Capital Celluloid 2021 — Day 182: Sun Nov 14

Director Disqualified (Hirano, 2011): Close-Up Cinema, 6pm

A weekend of films at Close-Up Cinema on November 13th and 14th (full details here) places its focus on one of the most disarming strands of Japan’s non-fiction cinema. Variously termed self-documentary, personal documentary or “I-film” (a cousin to the I-novel in Japanese literature), this form of auto-documentary-making began when Japanese filmmakers in the early 70s began to make films that pointed the camera either at themselves, or those closest to them. Distributing and exhibiting the results outside of commercial circuits, the films could take the form of home videos, diaries, portraits, confessions, or a combination thereof. Raw, naked and intimate, both in form and content, self-documentary has often been the province of fledgling filmmakers willing to take on the challenge to put something on the line, to present their lives with an honesty as unvarnished as possible. So, while beauty, humour, lightness of the everyday are present, above all, it’s the private moments that give these films their power to surprise and move. Curated by Sunil Chauhan, this programme brings together some of the best of the sub-genre to come from Japan in the last 25 years.

Introduction to Director Disqualified: One of three films made by director Katsuyuki Hirano on his volatile relationship with porn actress Yumika Hayashi, Director Disqualified is comprised mainly of footage shot by Hirano on a bike trip he made with the actress from Tokyo to Hokkaido’s Rebun Island in 1997. Capturing the complicated, push-and-pull relationship between the pair over several years, it candidly depicts their awkward, unpredictable, sometimes troubling bond, presenting a tragic love story that will likely provoke as many questions in the viewer’s mind as it provides answers.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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