2019: NATION | 国家

 This year we examine national identity, cultural memory and perceptions of history in Japan with a programme of classic avant-garde cinema and contemporary experimental short form film. This weekend festival of screenings will be complemented by introductions from experts, Q&As, a free panel discussion and a filmmaker’s workshop for aspiring video artists. 


EVENTS | 催し物

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters + Patriotism


Friday 20 September, 6pm

Barbican Cinema 3

This screening is introduced by Damian Flanagan

Reimagined in vibrant, expressionist colour, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters marries an author to his fiction—a vivid middle where man and myth collide. 

Yukio Mishima (Ken Ogata) is considered to be one of Japan’s most important novelists, and via Paul and Leonard Schrader’s unique framing, is psychoanalytically deconstructed to show not only how strong a storyteller he was, but how successfully a biography of this scope can capture the essence of personhood. 

Beginning on the last day of Mishima’s life as he brazenly tries to reinstate the Emperor of Japan, Schrader’s film weaves in and out of reality, trying to connect the dots of the author’s past, his novels and the ultimately-fatal acts of the supposed present.

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters is preceded by Yukio Mishima’s own poetically violent exploration into love, honour and death, Patriotism

Filmmakers’ Workshop


Saturday 21 September, 11am

MetFilm School

New for 2019, we are delighted to present the first JAEFF filmmakers’ workshop. 

Filmmakers from past and present festivals, representatives of funding bodies, curators and programmers will discuss their creative process, support networks, and distribution channels available for young filmmakers. 

This is a free event open to anyone interested in short film (but with some focus on Japanese artists and experimental form). Places are limited, so registration is essential.

Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 + Dialogue


Saturday 21 September, 5.40pm

Close-Up Film Centre

 This screening features a video introduction by Kazuo Hara

A stunning and perverse glimpse into life after a relationship, Kazuo Hara pushes uncomfortable boundaries in ways no documentarian has ever dared.

Extreme Private Eros is paired here with Yuka Sato’s Dialogue, where, emerging from a period of withdrawal, a social recluse or hikikomori relates her inner experiences against the backdrop of an illuminated, restless urban environment that never sleeps.

Fighting Elegy + three shorts


Saturday 21 September, 8.30pm

Close-Up Film Centre

This screening is introduced by Jasper Sharp

Shooting with audacious confidence, Suzuki ensnares us in an inane satire—precisely the kind of madness this bizarre masterpiece seeks to destroy.

Fighting Elegy is paired here with three short films that explore the past through personal stories narrated by female relatives of the filmmakers: Mizuki Toriya’s How Can You Know Where to Go If You Do Not Know Where You Have Been, Monika Uchiyama’s Bright Beyond Bearing and Chiemi Shimada’s Chiyo.

Panel Discussion: Screening the Nation


Sunday 22 September, 1.45pm

Barbican Cinema 3

This panel discussion event brings together historians and academics to contextualise and explore the films and themes of the festival.

This year, Japanese cinema sociologist Dolores Martinez (SOAS), Yukio Mishima biographer Damian Flanagan, biographer Damian Flanagan, returning JAEFF 2018 hero Isolde Standish and Kate Taylor-Jones (University of Sheffield)—whose work encompasses postcolonial moments in Japanese cinema and representations of girlhood—will discuss the social experiences and subjects presented in the festival. Post-war identity formation will be compared to a contemporary Japan which, like much of the world, is experiencing social alienation and a virulent strain of populist politics. 

Entry is free, but registration is essential.

Pigs and Battleships + Kokutai


Sunday 22 September, 3.30pm

Barbican Cinema 3

This screening is introduced by Ryushi Lindsay

The film that launched Shohei Imamura’s career, Pigs and Battleships is an agile, whip-smart mockery of a greed-driven, post-occupation Japan.

Much of Imamura’s breakout film concerns itself with the activities of a gang operating in Yokosuka. With piercing, CinemaScope shots, Pigs and Battleships explores the real-world consequences of American control, and its continued military presence in Japan. 

Pigs and Battleships is paired with Ryushi Lindsay’s Kokutai, an exploration of fascist aesthetics in high school baseball.

Death by Hanging + The Educational System of an Empire


Sunday 22 September, 6pm

Barbican Cinema 3  

This screening is introduced by Isolde Standish

Nagisa Oshima faces a derisive issue head on, making a farce out of a (still) ongoing human rights issue—capital punishment. 

R is a Korean who has, ostensibly, committed a crime worthy of death. In a circling overhead shot, Oshima’s film captures the ‘house’ of death where inmates will drink their last tea and breathe their last breath. But after hanging for over 20 minutes, R’s body won’t accept death.

Death by Hanging pits bureaucracy, ethics and spirituality against one another as the executioners debate re-hanging an already hanged man. Satire dressed in all the trappings of high drama comforts us in the midst of such a taboo subject without diluting our shock and disgust.

Death by Hanging is paired here with Hikaru Fujii’s The Educational System of an Empire where a group of young South Koreans are asked to re-enact the tyrannical actions of colonial Japan upon the nation of K