a group of people in traditional Japanese garb with two horn players and a marionettealr

The Stormy Times
(Toki ga fubuku)

Screening on Film
Directed by Kanai Katsu.
With Aiyama Karuko, Jonouchi Motoharu, Kanai Katsu.
Japan, 1991, 16mm, color, 62 min.
Japanese with English subtitles.
Print source: ACC Cinematheque

As I approached the age of fifty, I wanted to express my state of mind through a new methodology, and the first effort in that direction was this series of visual poems. In 1987, I presented the tanka film Dream Running; in 1988, the haiku film Grasshopper’s One-Game Match and, in 1989, the poetic collection We Can Hear Joe’s Poem, each of which I presented at the annual Image Forum Festival.

A Tanka Film: Dream Running is a kind of experimental period piece. The story is a contest between age and youth in the arenas of both cinema and love. The special effects cinematography I produced using my Bolex was innovative and won me a lot of praise: the film was awarded the Best Short Film prize at the Melbourne Film Festival. It has been screened in Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

A Haiku Film: Grasshopper’s One-Game Match is an eleven-minute film made using only the 400 feet of film that my Bolex can hold. Its one-shot follows me around the rooms of my house to capture “the everyday and the fantastic.” The start to this film was the nightmare of losing my dear friend, the film director Jonouchi Motoharu, in a car accident. Jonouchi had appeared in my previous film, Dream Running. This film has the patina of age that you can’t achieve in video.

A Poetic Film: We Can Hear Joe’s Poem. Jonouchi was a regular visitor to my house and he appeared in two of my films, The Kingdom and Dream Running. For me, the places where Jonouchi had been became like little rooms that extended from my brain cells, and I could feel Jonouchi’s memory there somehow. My hallucination takes me from the house to the garden, and there the poem that Jonouchi wrote, “Shinjuku Station,” begins to circle round and round with an overwhelming presence.

Each of these three films has its own individual history, but when I screened them together as a memorial to Jonouchi, I added two documentary images, and the series became The Stormy Times. – KK

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