Schedule for Kinema Club 4, Montr é al

anne mcknight akmck
Tue Aug 24 17:47:07 EDT 2004

Hello all,

This is to announce that the 4th installment of Kinema Club workshop, on
?Cinemas of Excess,? will be held at McGill University, in Montr?al, Qu?bec,
from October 8-9.  This is Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, so it?s probably
good to book flights and rooms soon. Following is the schedule, the list of
abstracts, and some info on logistics. The workshop is fairly informal. If
you would like to be a respondent, just let us know, and we will send you an
official letter, that may help you to obtain funding.

Papers will be pre-circulated to participants, so it is assumed that people
will have read the essays, and discussion will dive right in, having roughly
have the following structure:

Introduction by presenter (15 minutes)
General discussion
Option to show clips
-->there will be a ?scribe? type person attached to each panel, who will
summarize comments and post the major lines of discussion to the KC list
shortly following the conference.

The other new twist to the workshop is the ?book intro? feature. On the
registration form, we ask each participant to write a short paragraph
introducing and touting a book that has inspired, enraged, or otherwise
influenced them profoundly in thinking about film over the last year. These
paragraphs will be assembled and posted as well, and it is hoped will
introduce some new materials and new approaches to reading and thinking
about film, as fresh air comes from corners of the film world we do not
usually inhabit.

Friday, October 8: 

Graphic Melodrama: How Film Indexes Historicity
--  Michael Cronin, UC Irvine, ?_Sennen Joyuu_:  Hurtling through History?
--  Sarah Frederick, Boston University, ?Redolent of Roses: Excess in
Yoshiya Nobuko?s Fiction?
5-6:30  reception
7:00 +  dinner

Saturday, October 9:

The Incredible Expanding Body of Empire
--  Mark Driscoll, University of North Carolina, Another (Image) World Is
Possible:  Animetic Excess and the Limits to Capital
--  Chikako Nagayama, University of Toronto, ?Excess of the Bilingual Body
in Ri Koh-ran?s Cinema?

1-2:30  lunch (not included in conference fee)

Reality Plus and Reality Minus: Questioning Models of Identification and
-- Justin Armstrong, McMaster University, ?Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic: Takashi
Miike?s _Audition_ and the Role of the Real and Imaginary in Japanese
?Cinema of Excess??
--  Phil Kaffen, NYU, ?On Hara Kazuo?s _Sayonara CP_ & Excess?

6:00+            dinner/party


To cover the DIY operations of room, equipment and food costs, we ask that
each participant in the conference contribute $45 (in Canadian; you can also
send in $US, please consult for the
day?s exchange rate). Concretely, this gets you coffee and pastries/ snacks
for both days, and a nice plentiful dinner on Saturday night. Please send
the attached form and make checks (or money orders) payable to ?Anne
McKnight / KC 4,? and send to Dept of East Asian Studies, 3434 McTavish,
McGill University, Montr?al, PQ  H3A 1X9. BY OCTOBER 1, please. Once you are
registered, we will send directions and other useful information.


Justin Armstrong, McMaster University
kimonophonic at

Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic: Miike Takashi?s Audition and the Role of the Real
and Imaginary in Japanese ?Cinema of Excess?

            In this paper I will be examining the relationships that exist
between the roles of the Real and the Imaginary as portrayed in the films of
Miike Takashi, with a specific focus on Audition (2000) - a film that
presents the ideas of excess and body politics in Japanese cinema through
its use of narratives of sex and violence, as well as sexualized violence
and discourses of femininity.  The ?cinema of excess? as seen in the works
of directors like Miike offers a reaffirmation of the Real, an ideological
counterpoint to the everyday technocratic, traditionalist lifestyle in
modern Japan.  Through these films, the viewer is given the chance to regain
a hold on the Real through a voyeuristic and detached exercise in the
Baudrillardian simulation of hyper-violence and hyper-sex (the body becomes
the ultimate stage for the manifestation of the Real).  In order to offer
the Japanese viewer some form of escape from what is often viewed (both
internally and externally) as the repressive Imaginary of the post-war ?cult
of technology? and pre-war traditionalism, Miike presents a portal through
which the Real can be addressed from a safe distance.  By offering the
viewer a hyperbolized version of sex and violence, Miike attempts to present
a dialectical opposition to the dominant ideology by seeking the essence of
the Real in the basic human understandings of sex and violence, but the end
result is not a portrayal of the ultimate Real, rather it is an alternate
Imaginary:  vulnerable, fragile and ultimately unreal.

Michael Cronin, UC Irvine
mcronin at

Sennen Joyuu:  Hurtling through History

    In Kon Satoshi?s 2001 animated feature Sennen Joyuu (Millennium
Actress), the fictional screen legend Fujiwara Chiyoko is interviewed by her
biggest fan, Tachibana Genya, a documentary film maker. She relates the
story of how, as a girl, she met and fell in love with a mysterious antiwar
activist and spent the rest of her life searching for him.  Her narration
becomes not only the story of her own film career, but a history of Japanese
film, and, in a way, a history of modern Japan, presented by Kon in a series
of extended flashbacks and cinematic allusions.  In this paper, I consider
how, through this use of flashback and allusion, Kon personalizes,
sentimentalizes, and feminizes national history into star biography, turning
Japan?s militarization,  defeat, and postwar recovery into mise-en-scene for
Chiyoko?s melodrama.  As she chases her mystery man, she becomes an
embodiment of national fatalism, consumed by an excess of pure love and
duty, hurtling her star body through history toward a predetermined end.  I
also consider the role of Genya as diegetic audience for Chiyoko?s
narrative.  The questions of spectatorship raised by the fan-star
relationship are made more intriguing by Kon?s encyclopedic knowledge of
Japanese film history,  and by an over-the-top intertextuality that
collapses the space of the film onto that of the audience.  Genya--his tears
continually welling up as he witnesses Chiyoko?s travails,  so moved that he
even invades her memories--models an obsessive, invasive, and perverse otaku
spectatorship that matches its object in melodramatic excess.

Mark Driscoll, University of North Carolina
mdriscol at

Another (Image) World Is Possible: Animetic Excess and the Limits to Capital

Actually, it is animation that gave birth to the greatest myth of the
society of commodity fetishism: the dead can be re-animated.
--Imamura Taihei, 1948

    My paper will be the last part of a forthcoming book called Reverse
Postcoloniality which looks at the ways in which neo-liberal capital and its
isomorphic articulations in ?culture? and politics have rolled back and
reversed gains achieved globally in postcolonial ethico-poetics and in
global social movements during the 1960s and 70s.  Two sections on
aesthetics attempt to show some of the ways in which this reversal had been
encoded in and critiqued. My argument in this paper on ?classic? Japanese
animation of the 1980s and 90s will demonstrate some of the ways in which
the ?excess? beyond the cinematic verisimilitude grounding the animetic
(Driscoll 1997; Looser 2002) encodes this critique as it points to a utopian
beyond global capital. I will argue that pre-digital mass culture Japanese
animation foregrounded what Deleuze called the ?powers of the false? and
what Giorgio Agemben called ?gesture as artifice.?
More concretely, the essay will build on recent work by Norman Klein (2004)
and my own work on Imamura Taihei to argue that anime like Ghost in the
Shell (K?kaku kid?tai, 1995) are powerful articulations of what Imamura
identified in 1948 as the logics of animism, animating, and animation, and
?infantile? (Agamben 1993) meditations on embodiment and the biopolitical
within the horizon of neoliberal globalization and techno-science. More than
the axioms governing the cinematic, the animetic axioms of animism and
animating clearly show the operations of global capital. Nevertheless, a
fundamental animetic axiom is the excess which points beyond the law of
value grounding the cinematic. This excess, I will argue, must be read with
the incipient critiques of global capital and the critique of the
commodification of everything in neo-liberal capitalism.

Sarah Frederick, Boston University
sfred at

Redolent of Roses: Excess in Yoshiya Nobuko's Fiction
    Yoshiya Nobuko (1896-1973) was one of modern Japan?s most commercially
successful writers. Beginning in the 1920s and continuing into the 1970s, a
fan base of girls and women avidly read the serialized fiction of this
prolific writer, while major periodicals competed to publish and film
studios to adapt her novels.  Her romance melodramas make use of various
forms of the extreme in the believability of their plot situations,
over-the-top emotional expression, and ornate writing style. Her flowery
sentences (often referred to as bibun), marked by onomatopoeia, use of
English words in romanized script, exclamation points and other unusual
diacritical marks is a visually oriented, decorative style, both criticized
and loved for its excess.  Her writing style, use of imagery, and plot
twists also suggest her interaction and competition with modern
entertainment, while also being what marked her among literary critics as a
decidedly low-brow and feminine writer.
    Yoshiya worked in a written mode but had major interactions with visual
culture both direct and indirect. She wrote casual film criticism, consulted
on the adaptation of her works, and created "photographic stories" (shashin
sh?setsu) with posed studio actors.  Also, as Chika Kinoshita has shown, her
novelization and Japanization of the earliest version of Stella Dallas into
Haha no kyoku became the basis for the Japanese film by the same name and
the quintessential work in the genre "mother film" (haha mono).  In a more
indirect sense, her writing life coincided with the growth of cinema and was
published in periodicals visually transformed by increased use of cinema and
photography, and the relationship of audiences to her public persona
(including the western architecture of her home, western dress, and same-sex
relationship) were mediated by representational technologies of the era.
This paper analyzes forms of excess in Yoshiya's writing itself and
considers how we might apply to written language in a productive way
theories of melodrama and visuality that come out of cinema studies.

Phil Kaffen, NYU
phlik24 at

On Hara Kazuo?s Sayonara CP & Excess
    The idea of excess as a form of bodily engagement is frequently
associated with such obvious genres as horror, melodrama, and porn.
However, Sato Makoto has pointed to non-fiction film as possessing something
?extra? in its image; perhaps it could be called reality plus.  In Japan,
one of the major documentary filmmakers of the past several decades is
undoubtedly Hara Kazuo. While his controversial and (relatively) widely
known expose of Okuzaki Kenzo, Yuki yukite shingun (1987) certainly pushed
buttons and engaged with the body in ways that many found shocking, his
first feature, Sayonara CP (1972), not only anticipates but in many ways
supercedes the later work.  A questioning of the then prevalent ?radical?
politics of Ogawa Shinsuke and his theory of participation (katan no ronri),
Sayonara CP interrogates notions of healthy and unhealthy, trafficking in
excess at multiple levels, and destabilizing either/or dualities of
partisanship. Excesses crop up in the intense focus on language (without
subtitles), physical movement, and use of time, as well as in the
self-reflexive gestures of the camera-wielding protagonist.  The film
engages the body of spectators as well, forcing them to contemplate their
own relationships to the people on screen, though not through building easy
bridges or by erecting insurmountable barriers.  Instead, the excess of the
film pushes viewers into an uncomfortable in-between space, a deep chasm
without rope or ladder in which they must wade through the muck of their own
sensibilities, knowledge, perception of their own bodies, and understanding
of film and documentary.

Chikako Nagayama, U of Toronto
cnagayama at

Excess of the Bilingual Body in Ri Koh-ran?s Cinema

    This paper examines action-melodrama films featuring an actress and
singer Yamaguchi Yoshiko (aka Ri Koh-ran) produced in Manchuria and Japan
during the Shino-Japan war. Among her existing works, I am going to focus on
?Byakuran no uta [Song of the White Orchid]? (1939), ?Shina no yoru [China
Nights]? (1940), ?Nessa no chikai [Vow in the Dessert]? (1940) and ?Soshu no
yoru [Soochow Nights]? (1941).  Produced under the Toa shin chitsujo [East
Asia New Order] policy, the films exemplify collective forms of fantasy
which provided setting-out of spaces and bodies in which the viewers in
Japan and Japan?s colonies found out their places.
    Through auditory and visual access to the languages used in films,
viewers are differently positioned to be familiar or distant with
cinematically displayed bodies, which entails the formation of us and the
Other. Classically realist films employ film subjects who more or less
display the distinction between their primary tongue and foreign tongue.  In
that sense, Ri Koh-ran?s exceptional fluency in her bilingual (Japanese and
Chinese) performance can be considered as bodily excess.
    How does the excess function in her films? melodramatic tension and
resolution between Chinese woman and Japanese man?  And how does it work
along with another pole of her bodily excess ? singing? Through these
questions, I intend to explore how imperialist cinematic fantasy at the same
time utilizes and destabilizes the bodily integrity of national subjects.

Details on exact occasions to follow, upon registration.

Questions: contact Anne McKnight (akmck at, Tom Looser
(tom.looser at, Mark Nornes (amnornes at, Mitsuhiro
Yoshimoto (my15 at nyu.ed)


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the KineJapan mailing list