Japanese Film in the UK

Stephen Cremin asianfilmlibrary
Wed Sep 1 23:04:53 EDT 1999

UK members on the list seem to be multiplying - come out, Heidi Potter, 
wherever you are - which is interesting to see.  In reply to the latest 
introduction, he should check out London's Chinatown which has Harada 
Masato, Sabu, Kitano, etc, on VCD with subtitles.  They also recently have 
early Kurosawa such as "The Most Beautiful" and "Sugata Sanshiro" for as 
little as ?5 (CD News) and the new horror wave although only "Ring 2" (and 
"CURE") seems to have subtitles.

All of this is illegal here, of course.  Someone at Oxford University 
recently approached me for advice on where to locate "Black Rain", "Double 
Suicide", "The Ballad of Narayama", etc, for a new Japanese video library 
and I had to point out that loaning these tapes to students could result in 
a US$20,000 fine and jail sentence.  Its just not economically viable to put 
most Japanese films out on video here when the classification body requires 
somewhere around US$2000 to tell you that "Double Suicide" is a PG (Parental 
Guidance) certificate.  So, ICA didn't put "Maboros(h)i" on video although 
they had copyright - you just can't cover the costs.  Speaking of which, 
congratulations to Peter Tombs on the list who's been putting out some 1970s 
classics on video - available in Tower Records and HMV - in recent months.  
Very daring given that there isn't the space to cover them in British 
newspapers or film magazines.  (And presumably their release is still not 
even mentioned in "Sight & Sound" and "Time Out" for "political" reasons.)

Of course, until about ten years ago there was the most fantastic Japanese 
video library on Brewer Street until Westminster Council shut it down.  Too 
many British customers.  But if you have a Japanese passport in the family, 
there are video clubs you can join.  (Presumably Japanese in the UK have 
already been corrupted so they're allowed to rent Japanese films.  And those 
married to Japanese are beyond saving anyway.)  Irony of course is that the 
Japanese video clubs now in existence in London all have pirated tapes, 
whereas the old Brewer Street store only had originals...

Stephen Cremin
The Asian Film Library

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