Ono Seiko and Aaron Gerow
Fri Nov 7 07:47:08 EST 1997
>> I reported on Kinema Club at the beginning of the year that one of
>> Tokyo's most famous and longest running rep houses, the Bungeiza, was
>> torn down.
To which Adam Gower asked,
>Where exactly is this theater, how many screens are there there, and do
>you know how to contact Jinseiza?
Sorry for the delay in responding.
The Bungeiza was located on the east side of Ikebukuro station, a little
bit to the north and towards Otsuka. It was behind Bic Camera, for those
who know the area. That part of Ikebukuro is particularly seedy (there's
a nozoki beya down the street from the theater and a soap land next door)
and someone was even stabbed to death right in front of the theater two
years ago. I know woman friends who would not go there alone unless it
was a film they absolutely had to see. So one could blame its decline on
location. Still, it was always quite crowded, but mostly with older men.
There officially were two screens at the time they closed: Bungeiza 1
(which was a second run house screening double features of recent films),
and Bungeiza 2 (the rep house formally called Bungeiza Chika, but even it
sometimes acted like a second run house). But there was also the
Bungeiza Le Pilier down stairs which was mostly used for small theater
performances, unconventional rakugo, etc., but occasionally showed films
which would draw smaller crowds (especially prewar films). It only did
16mm projection and there was no projection booth.
The Bungeiza building always seemed like a large beehive with goodies
stashed away in its various orifices. Part was a cafe, part was the
Bungeiza Cineboutique, part was a poster store. They tried to run a
video rental store too and it was apparently the losses from that hurt
most at the end.
I unfortunately don't have a contact address for them now. Does anyone?
Yokohama National University
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