Sunday, December 02, 2012

Nobuhiko Obayashi in NYC 12/5-12/10

Acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Nobuhiko Obayashi—best known outside of Japan for his 1978 pop-art fantasy / horror film HOUSE (aka HAUSU)—will be making a rare trip to New York City this week for several film screenings and the launch of a new exhibition / film series at the Museum of Modern Art. Accompanying him will be his family, including daughter Chigumi, who was responsible for writing the original story for HOUSE, when she was only 14 years old!

This blog entry aims to collect all the information about his visit in one place. Please share it and spread the word!

Obayashi (or OB, as he's frequently called) is one of those rare filmmakers who has worked comfortably in both the art-house and commercial areas of his field. Beginning his work as an 8mm and 16mm filmmaker in the 1960s, Obayashi was soon requested by various companies in Japan to shoot commercials for them, due to his expertise in telling a visual story in only a matter of minutes. While criticized by some of his contemporaries because of his supposed abandonment of "art" for a more money-oriented area of filmmaking, his commercials are remarkably original and creative, and through them OB was able to work with international stars of the time like Charles Bronson (most notably in his famous series of spots for "Mandom" cologne), Sophia Loren, David Niven, Catherine Deneuve, ZATOICHI star Shintaro Katsu, and many others, not to mention the young idols who would later populate his feature films.

In 1978, Obayashi was given his first opportunity to make a feature film by film studio Toho, and the result was the much-loved HOUSE, which was released several years ago on Blu-ray and DVD by The Criterion Collection. (You can learn the full story of OB's struggle to create the film and its subsequent rise to fame in the documentary that accompanies the disc, as well as the liner notes.)

After HOUSE, OB carved out a niche for himself within the Japanese filmmaking community, turning out a series of fantasy films through the 1980's starring contemporary idols (mainly female ones), such as THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME, SCHOOL IN THE CROSSHAIRS and EXCHANGE STUDENTS (screening at MOMA).

His work continued through the 1990's in various genres, including some extraordinary work for TV, and he's still at it. His latest film, about a local fireworks festival and lingering feelings about the Hiroshima bombing, CASTING BLOSSOMS TO THE SKY, was released earlier this year.

Here's the full schedule of his appearances at the present moment. We are still working to secure a special screening of HOUSE for OB to attend, but it's as yet unconfirmed.

Thursday, Dec. 6th
6:30 pm        EXCHANGE STUDENTS / Tenkosei / 転校生 (MOMA)
Obayashi will introduce the film. 

Friday, Dec. 7th
6:30 pm        THE DESERTED CITY / Haishi / 廃市 (MOMA)
Obayashi will introduce the film.

Saturday, Dec. 8th
— featuring two short films by OB: 1961's "Nakasen Road / 中山道" and 1966's "Emotion".
Obayashi will introduce the program.

Sunday, Dec. 9th
7:30 pm        OBAYASHI SHORT FILMS (Anthology Film Archives)
— featuring four additional short films by OB: his debut, 1960's "Dadanko", 1961's "Thursday / 木曜日", 1963's horror-themed "An Eater / 食べた人", and 1964's "Complexe".
Obayashi will introduce the program.

Please join us to meet, speak with, and celebrate one of the most unique international filmmakers still working today, as he makes a very special trip to New York.

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