Press release May 4, 2015
Retrospective of the 15th Nippon Connection Film Festival:
Luminous & Vibrant - The Cinema of Shinji Somai
This year, the retrospective of the Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection in Frankfurt is dedicated to the pioneering director Shinji Somai (1948-2001). Nine of his films will be shown as part of the festival section Nippon Retro from 5 until 7 June 2015 in the Cinema of the German Film Museum. These films offer a rare opportunity to discover the work of Shinji Somai who is still relatively unknown among the German audience. By using impressively long takes and unusual color palettes, Somai created a unique film language that influenced a whole new generation of filmmakers. The retrospective is organized in cooperation with the Japan Foundation Tokyo.
The work of Shinji Somai includes manga adaptations like Dreamy Fifteen (Tonda kappuru, 1980), the erotic drama Love Hotel (1985) and the road movie Kaza-Hana (2000). His films are often concerned with adolescence and with teenagers who struggle to get along in an obscure adult world. Thereby he became one of the pioneers of the popular teen drama genre of the 1990s and 2000s in Japan.
Petra Palmer, initiator of the retrospective, is fascinated with Shinji Somai: “It has always been my wish to present Somai. You notice that the emphasis in his films is placed on the actors. He always leaves room to act out every detail, and his long takes capture distinguished performances.”
In the award-winning erotic drama Love Hotel, Somai investigated the sexual excesses of his protagonists in an almost voyeuristic way and thus created a classic of the erotic pink-film genre. The subtle and humorous family drama Moving (Ohikkoshi, 1993) is a little masterpiece in which a young girl named Renko tries to undo the separation of her parents. The closure and also peak of this year’s retrospective will be Kaza-Hana - Somai's very last work. The leading role in this wild, poetic road movie is played by Tadanobu Asano who will receive the inaugural Nippon Honor Award this year.
Aaron Gerow (Professor of Film Studies and East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University) will give a lecture on Shinji Somai and the Long Take, complementing the program of the retrospective. The lecture will take place on 5 June at 5pm in the German Film Museum.
About Shinji Somai:
Somai was born in 1948 in Morioka in the Japanese prefecture of Iwate. After he dropped out of law school, he received one of the highly desired positions at the renowned film company Nikkatsu. There he assisted famous filmmakers such as Kazuhiko Hasegawa and Shuji Terayama. With his first film Dreamy Fifteen (Tonda kappuru), Somai not only made his breakthrough but was also awarded with critics’ choice awards at the Japanese Academy Awards and the Yokohama Film Festival. His early death in 2001 was a great loss for Japanese cinema.
Location of Nippon Retro:
German Film Museum, Schaumainkai 41, Frankfurt am Main
Tickets are available starting 13 May at the German Film Museum:
7 € / 5 € (reduced prize)
Kaza-Hana: free admission
Films by Shinji Somai at Nippon Retro:
Dreamy Fifteen (Tonda kappuru, 1980)
P.P. Rider (Shonben raida, 1983)
The Catch (Gyoei no mure, 1983)
Typhoon Club (1985)
Love Hotel (1985)
Stepchildren (Yuki no dansho – jonetsu –, 1985)
Moving (Ohikkoshi, 1993)
The Friends (Natsu no niwa, 1994)
The films will be shown in the original Japanese version with English subtitles.
About the festival:
The 15th Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection takes place from 2 to 7 of June 2015. Since the year 2000, the festival takes place in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It is the largest festival for Japanese cinema worldwide. The festival is organized on a voluntary basis by about 70 team members. The festival program mainly features new film productions and diverse cultural events The festival sites are at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Theater Willy Praml, the German Film Museum, Mal Seh’n Cinema, Ausstellungsraum Eulengasse, the GDA residential home Frankfurt Zoo and, for the first time, the cabaret theater Die Käs.