Declarations for Cinema from the Scala Beyond network
Zipangu Fest was established in 2010 to shatter existing preconceptions about what ‘Japanese cinema’ is, and to celebrate one of the most vibrant and dynamic moving image cultures anywhere in the world.
Zipangu Fest’s goal is to provide a platform for the kind of films that don’t fit the usual mould of what one might see at other Japanese festivals or retrospectives in the UK, and films whose target audience may be too niche to ever see them released on DVD – personal or political documentaries, avant-garde animation, mesmerising experimental works, movies about Japan by foreign filmmakers and obscure or long-forgotten gems by unknown or unfamiliar Japanese directors, disinterred from the vaults for a modern-day audience. We aim to show films that you may never have the chance to see elsewhere.
Zipangu Fest believes that moving images and sounds take on new meanings when experienced in a communal environment on a large screen, and that the way in which films are presented is just as important as what is presented within them. There are two main tenets to our programming approach:
1) That the works we present are linked or aligned in some way so that a number of dominant aesthetic or thematic strands can be detected running through each year’s programme, and so that each of the individual films we screen develops new aspects and points of interest when viewed within the context of the programme as a whole.
2) A film festival should be a social event as much as a collection of films, and every year we have brought over a number of filmmakers as our guests to introduce their works to UK audiences. Again related to context, we believe that the films should complement and fit comfortably within the screening environment, which in turn dictates the type of parties and other activities that go on during the festival.
Zipangu Fest is less concerned with the cult of the auteur or catering to existing Asian movie fans than with assembling the most powerful, thought-provoking and unpredictable selection of titles we can in any one year. While our focus is Japan, we could just as well be dealing with the cinema of any country. This is why our name is taken from the fantasy island named by Marco Polo during his travels to the East in the 13th Century. We are not claiming to represent any “real” Japan. Our goal is to transport the viewer into a new and exciting mindspace, as imagined collectively by the country’s most innovative creative forces.
The third Zipangu Fest, hosted by the Cinema Museum in Kennington from 14-16 September, looks set to be our most ambitious and exciting yet.
Japanarchy in the UK!
As part of Scala Forever, Zipangu Fest will be screening: