The UCLA Graduate Student Association’s Melnitz Movies series will partner with the Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, New Visions of Japanese Cinema and The Japan Foundation of Los Angeles to present “Landscape Theory: An Encounter Between Cinema and Radical Politics in 1960s-70s Japan,” curated by film scholar Go Hirasawa.
The three-day series will be held at the James Bridge Theater, located at Melnitz Hall, 235 Charles E. Young Dr. East in the northeast section of the UCLA campus. The schedule is as follows:
• Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 5 p.m.: Opening night gala followed by 6 p.m. screening of “AKA Serial Killer” (1969). Directed by Masao Adachi, Susumu Iwabuchi, Masayuki Nonomura, Yutaka Yamazaki, Mamoru Sasaki, Masao Matsuda. A companion to Nagisa Oshima’s “The Man Who Left His Will on Film,” “AKA Serial Killer” documented the social upheaval and political oppression that roiled Japan in the 1960s. Director Adachi, screenwriter Sasaki and film critic Matsuda put fukeiron (landscape theory) into practice in their profile of 19-year-old serial killer Norio Nagayama. An indictment of media sensationalism, the film humanizes the young man by situating his crimes in the larger context of his environment.
8 p.m.: “Red Army PFLP: Declaration of World War” (1971). Returning from the 1971 Cannes Film Festival, Adachi and Koji Wakamatsu traveled to Lebanon to collaborate with the Red Army and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (both of whose ranks Adachi would later join) to make a radical propaganda newsreel promoting the Palestinian resistance against Israel. The purest expression of Adachi’s call for a “cinema for the revolution,” Red Army/PLFP: Declaration of World War interweaves footage of Palestine refugee camps, freedom fighters in training and landscape theory-style imagery of city and landscapes over which plays a soundtrack of fiery speeches openly embracing armed violence and Maoist revolution as an effective means to reinvent the world order.
• Wednesday, Feb. 4, at 6 p.m.: “Boy” (1969), directed by Nagisa Oshima. At once dreamlike and punishingly direct, “Boy” is the story of parents who habitually send their son into the street to be grazed by oncoming cars in order to wrest payment from the drivers. In this way, the itinerant family makes a living. It’s a fantastic tale, based on a true incident. Inexorably, Oshima takes us through the progressive desperation of a war-damaged father and an ambivalent stepmother who callously use each other and their children and call it love as they strive for a place in the postwar economy. The settings grow increasingly stark until a climax finds the boys cozily blanketed in snow.
8 p.m.: “Running in Madness, Dying in Love” (1971). While clashes between demonstrators and police are raging in the streets of Tokyo, a young man takes refuge at his policeman brother’s house. The two brothers soon come to blows, but the intervention of the policeman’s wife leads to the death of her husband by his own gun. The young man and the wife cover up the murder by making it look like a suicide. They become lovers and flee north into the Tohoku area, as if they were being pursued by the ghost of the murdered husband, their sexual passion and the pulse of the changing times.
• Thursday, Feb. 5, at 6 p.m.: “Go, Go Second Time Virgin” (1969). Prolific filmmaker Koji Wakamatsu tells the tale of two Japanese teens brought together by sexual violence, revenge, and rebellion. A girl (Mimi Kozakura) is forcibly carried to a rooftop and gang-raped, as a boy of similar age (Michio Akiyama) stands to the side watching the events unfold. The boy remains on the roof until the next morning, waiting for the girl to wake. When she does finally rise, the two teens begin sharing intimate details about their lives, including the fact that the boy has recently killed four people that forced him to take part in an orgy. As the two kindred spirits sink lower and lower into depression and delusion, they exact revenge for the crimes against the girl and take a bold, tragic step to end their misery once and for all.
8 p.m.: Lecture by Go Hirasawa.
8:45 p.m.: “The Man Who Left His Will on Film” (1970). Directed by Nagisa Oshima. Screenplay by Masato Hara, Mamoru Sasaki. With Kazuo Goto, Emiko Iwasaki, Sugio Fukuoka. Following activist demonstrations, a student filmmaker discovers a last will and testament recorded on film by a man who may or may not have existed. Much like Antonioni’s “Blow-Up” (1966), the footage seems to be innocuous and visually uneventful, yet its very banality suggests a tantalizing mystery that invites imaginative speculation. The student concludes that the only way to understand the ghostly man’s last will is to re-shoot the landscape locations himself. The tension between subjective experience and historical fact lies at the heart of fukeiron, a landscape theory that gained currency in Japan in the 1960s.
Parking costs $10 in Lot 3, located just north of the James Bridges Theater. Purchase a daily permit at the parking booth located at Wyton Drive and Hilgard Avenue before 7:30 p.m., or from parking attendants at Lot 3 entrances, one hour before showtime. There is also a self-service pay station in Lot 3’s northern extension.
Free parking is available on Loring Avenue (south of Sunset Boulevard, east of Hilgard Avenue at Charing Cross Road) after 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and all day on weekends.
All screenings and appearances are subject to change on short notice, so check listings before showtime. All movies are free to UCLA students, staff, faculty and members of the general public, unless otherwise noted. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis (one ticket per person) at the Melnitz box office one hour before showtime.