03 June 2015

Everything Visible: Japanese Indie Animated Shorts

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

17:15, Naxoshalle Kino, Frankfurt am Main

Nippon Connection asked me to curate a selection of animated shorts for this year’s festival.  We are delighted that Yuki Hayashi, director of the animated music video Fragments of Journey for the band moskitoo will be able to attend the screening.

The title of this programme is an allusion to experimental artist Toshio Matsumoto’s famous 1975 work “Everything Visible in Empty” which itself was inspired by an old Chinese saying.  Visual media has become an inescapable part of our daily lives and it is increasingly difficult for artists to stand out among the crowd.  This programme features recent works by independent artists who are cultivating their own distinct visions through their art.  

The artists come from a range of backgrounds from across Japan.  There are a number of different styles represented including stop motion, hand drawn, and CG animation.  Many of these artists, such as the Oscar-winning animator Kunio Kato and his Robot Inc. colleague Osamu Sakai, have already established themselves at international festivals, while others (Makiko SukiharaYukie Nakauchi) are young artists who are just starting out. 

Dino Sato studied architecture and brings an interesting structural perspective to his work.   Osaka based animators Makiko Sukihara and Kohei Matsumura blend scientific observation with artistic impression in their 12 layer hand drawn study of the life of crows.  Similarly, Masahiro Ohsuka takes a scientific approach to his work, investigating the relationship between nature and machines and the abstract and the concrete. 

In contrast, artists like Masamu Hashimoto take a more playful approach to animation transforming everyday objects into objects of wonder using traditional stop motion techniques.  Masanobu Hiraoka’s beautifully colour-blocked works present a riveting kaleidoscopic perspective of life.   

Yoshinao Sato’s Newspaper is the English language version of his film Papers.  Both films present mesmeric montages of newspapers (the English version includes The Japan Times, USA Today, and the International Herald Tribune) in a kind of a tribute to the paper format of a medium that most people these days are digesting via digital means. 

The final film of the program is Dark Mixer by Hirotoshi Iwasaki.  It won the HAFF Grand Prix for Best Non-Narrative Short in March.  Iwasaki has a master’s degree in Contemporary Arts from Geidai and is currently working on his doctorate there.  Dark Mixer was inspired by the connections he sees between alchemy and rotoscope animation.  He writes: “The idea behind the title is to take everyday things and dump them into the mixer/blender to create something that is unfamiliar to us. It may lead us to look at everyday life in a different way” (source).

This is a programme full of contrasts that challenges us to think about our relationship to the world around us in all its diverse aspects. 

Many thanks to Martin Yougle for his assistance in organising this event.

While the Crow Weeps / カラスの涙 
Makiko Sukikara and Kōhei Matsumura / 鋤柄真希子 & 松村康平, 2013, 7’41”
The Osaka-based animation team of Makiko Sukikara (director/animator) and Kōhei Matsumura (screenwriter/producer) are young artists to watch.  Filmed on a multi-plane animation table, this beautifully painted film depicts the natural world in all its beauty and savageness.  The film won a New Face Award for animation at the Japan Media Arts Festival 2013.  Read Full Review

Celebration and Chorale / 祝典とコラール
Yukie Nakauchi /中内友紀恵, 2013, 5’10”
A beautiful visual interpretation of Niel De Ponte's percussion sextet "Celebration and Chorale".   

Shinsaku Hidaka / ひだかしんさく, 2013, 13’
"A man visits his wife in hospital, and goes on a mental journey … a journey through space and time, involving much climbing, sudden death syndrome and a body swap." — Tony Rayns

Digital / デジタル
Osamu Sakai / 坂井治, 2013, 5’10”
A riveting montage of hand drawn geometric shapes.

Scenes / 情景
Kunio Katō / 加藤久仁生, 2012, 8’

Rhizome /リゾーム
Masahiro Ohsuka / 大須賀政裕, 2014, 5’54”

Fireworks * Beads
Masamu Hashimoto / はしもと・まさむ, 2013, 3’09”
- there is a contact form on his website

Land / ランド
Masanobu Hiraoka / 平岡政展, 2013, 3’30”
Masanobu Hiraoka’s animated shorts play with colour-blocking and metamorphosis.  Watching his films is like peering into a kaleidoscope.  His short, Land, with music and sound design by Aimar Molero, was a Vimeo Staff Pick.

The Sexual Fish – The Fish that Forgot to Breed /性的な魚-繁殖を忘れた魚達
Dino Satō / サトウ・ダイノ, 2014, 2’00”
 Six amusing animated vignettes speculating on the sexuality of fish.  Each scene is placed in a row of what look like a cross between stained glass windows and test tubes.

Fragments of Journey
Yuki Hayashi/ 林勇気, 2014, 4’
Music video for the singer Moskitoo

Yoshinao Satoh / 義尚佐藤, 2013, 7’

Dark Mixer
Hirotoshi Iwasaki / 岩崎宏俊, 2014, 4’55

Cathy Munroe Hotes 2015

31 May 2015

Tokyo University of the Arts at Nippon Connection 2015

Tokyo University of the Arts at Nippon Connection 2015
With Special Guest: Yūichi Itō
Thursday, June 4, 17:00 Naxoshalle Kino (learn more)

Once again this year Nippon Connection is presenting a selection of films by current students and recent graduates of the MA programme in Animation at Tokyo University of the Arts (aka Geidai).  Based in Yokohama, Geidai’s animation department was recognised as the Best Animation School at Animafest Zagreb 2010 and won an honourable mention for their animation show reel at the Ottawa International Animation Festival 2014.

This year’s works will be presented by Prof. Yūichi Itō, the renowned stop motion animator.  In addition, Itō will present his own works aspart of a Film Talk on Thursday, June 4 at 8:30pm as well as hosting a cutout animation workshop for kids on the following Saturday.

and, end / えんえん
Mio YAMANAKA, 2015

Will Hatching Day Come?
Kiatchokechaikul CHAYANIT, 2015

Tomomi KOMAZAKI, 2015

Melting down / すこやかな歪み
Takuto KATAYAMA, 2015

Tepid Bath
Tsumugi HARUNARI, 2015

Holy Shit!
Takashi SHIBUYA, 2015

Zdravstvuite! / ズドラーストヴィチェ!
Yoko YUKI, 2015

Moonlit Night and Opal / 月夜&オパール
Shishi YAMAZAKI, 2015

Missing you / 白いうなばら
Satomi MAIYA, 2015

Hollow mind /
Yagi, 2015

 I'm here
Yukie NAKAUCHI, 2015

 Helleborus Niger
Kohei TAKEDA, 2015

 Fox Fears /きつね憑き
Miyo SATO, 2015

 A Place to Name / その家の名前
Ataru SAKAGAMI, 2015

 Wild Boys Advance / 超ラジオ体操
Koya, 2015

Scutes on My Mind / かたすみの鱗
Megumi ISHITANI, 2015

Film Talk with Yūichi Itō at Nippon Connection 2015

Film Talk with Yūichi Itō at Nippon Connection 2015
Thursday, June 4.
8:30pm at Mousonturm Studio 3, Frankfurt am Main
Yūichi Itō (Professor at Tokyo University of the Arts and director of Harbor Tale)
Moderation: Catherine Munroe Hotes

This year’s animation guest at Nippon Connection is Yūichi Itō (伊藤 有壱, 1962).  Itō is one of Japan’s top stop motion animators and he teaches animation at Tokyo University of the Arts’ prestigious graduate programme in animation.  This year marks the 20th anniversary of his popular NHK claymation series Knyacki! (ニャッキ!) which follows the adventures of a cute little caterpillar. 

Itō founded his own studio I.TOON 1998.  In addition to animation for kids, I.TOON produces a wide range of animated commercials, character designs, and music videos including Ken Hirai’s 2005 hit Kimi wa Tomodachi (キミはともだち/You're My Friend).   

In recent years Itō has had much success with his latest character Mr. Brick, the central character of his film Harbor Tale (2011) and its sequel Blue Eyes -in HARBOR TALE- (2014).  Harbor Tale showcases the history of Yokohama and its iconic red brick historical buildings. 

Entry to the Film Talk is free and will feature 40 minutes of selected works followed by a Q+A.  The films screened will include:

Knyacki! Episode16 "Macaroni!"
ニャッキ!第16 「マカロニ!」            

Doron Coron

ノラビッツ・ミニッツ 2話「ピアノ」


Blue Eyes -in HARBOR TALE-
ブルーアイズ イン ハーバーテイル             

In addition to the Film Talk, Itō will do a cutout animation workshop for kids and a workshop for adults, as well as presenting this year’s selection ofGeidai animated shorts.  


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