Festivals - Fantasia 2020 : Labyrinth of cinema, Canadian Premiere

By Mulder, 11 august 2020

“Live freely. That is the proof of peace”. That’s what my father would tell me. When I found myself arriving aimlessly in Tokyo, I used the 8-mm camera he’d given me as a keepsake to shoot a film that was shown in one corner of an art gallery in Ginza. That showing was recognized around the world as “the birth of a new film artist” and for the 60 years since then I’ve continued to make independent films, funded by the money I earned creating commercials for television. Following an invitation from Toho Pictures, I became the first amateur to shoot at a major Japanese movie studio with my film House. That experience taught me that if you choose the right genre, a somewhat literary film can also be a commercially successful one. By combining that knowledge with my previous experience as a naïve militarized youth in the Pacific War, I have since created a number of “war-weary films” in various genres. Throughout the last 61 years, I have been supported in my work by my wife Kyoko, who has been prepared to live the life of “the wife of an impoverished artist”. She has linked my films to the real world, always saying that “I’m your first audience”. As I continue to devote myself to filmmaking, I’m joined not only by my wife, but also by my eldest daughter Chigumi, who got her first credit at the age of 11 for the original idea behind House, and her husband, the artist Takehito Moriizumi, as well as many other friends from generations old and new. We’ve entered an era in which independent films are flourishing, and the world of filmmaking has become somewhat like I had wished it would. I hope you will enjoy the freedom for the individual and inconvenience for those in power that this age brings. I think I will enjoy having my true colors shown to the world “ - Nobuhiko Obayashi

Setouchi Kinema, the only movie theater on the Onomichi seafront, is about to close its doors. An all-night marathon attracts three young men. When lightning strikes, the audience finds itself sent back in time, into the world beyond the screen – the trio thrust into the dying days of the feudal era, the Boshin War, the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Battle of Okinawa and then, finally, to Hiroshima on the eve of the atomic bombing. There, they meet the Sakura Traveling Troupe, unaware of the incoming tragedy. Can the fumbling time-travelers alter the course of history, or is it fixed in time, like images on celluloid?

With the death last April of director Nobuhiko Obayashi, the seventh art lost a true titan whose career began with the psychedelic classic Hausu (1977), and later blossomed into one of the most coherent and eclectic filmographies in cinema. Following his war trilogy (Casting Blossoms to the sky, Seven Weeks and Hanagatami), Labyrinth of cinema is a masterful and profoundly humanistic work, structured as a delirious journey through Japan's imperialist and cinematographic history, where we meet John Ford, Ozu, the various samurai of the jidaigeki as well as the great poets. Bold and experimental, Labyrinth of cinema communicates the immense sadness of an old man looking at the modern world, yet points us towards a glimmer of hope on the horizon: the dazzling beam of a spotlight in the darkness, like a reminder of the power of art to inspire in the face of unfailing human barbarism. Thank you for everything, Obayashi-san.

Synopsis :
The story centers on a group of young people who travel back in time when they are in a movie theater just before closing time. They witness deaths during the closing days of Japan's feudal times and on the battlefront in China before they are sent to Hiroshima just before the Aug. 6, 1945, atomic bombing of the city.

Labyrinth of cinema
Written and Directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi
Produced by Nobuhiko Obayashi
Starring Takuro Atsuki, Yoshihiko Hosoda, Takahito Hosoyamada, Riko Narumi, Takako Tokiwa, Hirona Yamazaki, Rei Yoshida
Edited by Nobuhiko Obayashi
Release date : November 1, 2019 (Tokyo International Film Festival)
Running time : 179mns

(Source : Fantasia 2020 official websitel)