Mamoru Oshii's AVALON and Ghibli gibberings

Jasper Sharp jasper_sharp at
Sun Oct 28 15:14:12 EST 2001

Hi fellow KineJapanners,

I was lucky enough to catch a screening of Avalon the other day, and was 
fairly impressed. The film looks (and sounds!) absolutely beautiful, and the 
use of Polish actors and locations a positively inspired aesthetic to my 
mind. I did feel there was a slight weakness at the heart of the narrative, 
similar to Ghost in the Shell. The film charged through some stunning set 
pieces and raised some fascinating issues, yet at the end of the day, 
something felt like it was missing.
I understand the film was actually completed quite a while ago, and was 
screened at this year's Cannes. Can anyone tell me how it was received at 
Cannes and in any, if any, of the territories the film has been released in 
yet. Personally I can't see it getting a UK release, but that's more down to 
the rather insular distribution genre products recieve here than the 
particular merits of the film in question.

On a related note, I've just come back from the Barbican here I made time 
for two of the Ghibli films currently screening there, ONLY YESTERDAY and 
GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES, both of which brought a tear to my jaded eye - 
especially when the guy sitting next to me started sniffling at the end of 
GRAVE. The turnout was pretty impressive, and I'm hoping that the seasons 
enthusiastic reception proves to Miramax that there is a sizeable market for 
this sort of thing in the UK, and that MONONOKEHIME is not the only film to 
go on to garner a subsequent DVD/video release. Can I say a big thank you 
and congratulations to fellow list member Andrew Osmond, not only for his 
involvement in the programming, but also for managing to get a related 
feature in Sight and Sound, which I was beginning to suspect was only 
interested in films by Michael Haneke and the Coen brothers.

So that's our three major festivals showcasing Japanese film in London over 
and done with for this year. Shame they all over seemed to overlap. 
Raindance managed to remain fairly popular, with the screenings for TOKYO 
TRASH BABY and VISITOR Q probably managing to attract a wider audience than 
during the initial Tokyo screenings, though reaction to the latter was not 
unsurprisingly mixed! In all the chaos, I didn't actually manage to make it 
to the ICA for the short Sento season. Did anyone else? I'm wondering how 
popular it was, and if it was overshadowed by the multitute of other Asian 
related film events last week.

Jasper Sharp

Midnight Eye

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