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Retrospective on Japanese film master Terayama Shuji

Filmmaker, theatre director, novelist, poet and sports commentator, the multifaceted Japanese film director, Terayama Shuji has had great influence on various fronts in contemporary Japan. The stunning, bizarre images in his films create a world of fantasy with many visions still looking novel to this present age.

A retrospective on Terayama's classic films including his swansong "Farewell to the Ark", his first feature film "Throw away Your Books, Let's Get into the Streets", his most important masterpiece "Pastoral Hide and Seek", the avant-garde "Labyrinth in the Field", his only commercial work "The Boxer", the fascinating "Fruits of Passion", short films and theatre works of Tenjo Sajiki on video will be shown next month.

The screenings will be held at the Cinema of the Hong Kong Film Archive from November 3 to 5, at the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Space Museum on November 11 and at the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Science Museum from November 10 to 15.

Presented by the Film Programmes Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and curated by Mr Law Wai-ming, "Repertory Cinema 2006" introduces world film classics to local audiences. "Terayama Shuji" is the third series, following the screenings on New German Cinema of the 60s and works of Italian film master Bernardo Bertolucci.

To accompany the screenings, a poster exhibition of Terayama Shuji's works will be held from October 23 to 30 in the foyer of the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and during the screening periods at the Hong Kong Film Archive and Hong Kong Science Museum.

A seminar entitled "Discovering Terayama Shuji" to be conducted in Cantonese, is scheduled for November 12 at 4pm at the Lecture Hall of the Hong Kong Science Museum.

Born in 1935 and passing away in 1983, Terayama enriched the art of the avant-garde and perspectives of modernity. He was very active in literature and art during his youth days in Aomori, his homeland. He established the internationally acclaimed theatre group Tenijo Sajiki in 1967, with famous productions including "Jashumon", "Shintokumaru" and "Mojin Shokan".

On the cinematic front, Terayama never stopped creating since his embarkation on experimental films in 1964. While his experimental and feature films intertwined to form an eerie, magical world of image, his films and dramas also echoed his favourite themes: triangular relationships inside big families, the nihility of memory and liberation. His works are a constant debate on hypocrisy of the truth and fabrication of the imagination.

His opulent life can most aptly be depicted by his renowned remark: "My occupation is being Terayama Shuji".

The opening film "Farewell to the Ark" (completed in 1982) was shot when Terayama was dying, making the film all the more touching. The film depicts the life of two cousins who get married. As it is rumoured that close relatives will have a baby with a pig-like birthmark, the wife has to wear a chastity belt. The film won the Grand Prize of Japan Arts Festival 1984.

His first feature film "Throw away Your books, Lets Get into the Streets" (1971) has the same title of a play and a book. The movie revolves around the young male protagonist who is modelled after the teenage Terayama inextricably entangled with the past, the present and the future. All kinds of peculiar characters turn up in the film including a little sister who loves rabbits and a perverted middle-aged man, weaving Terayama's world of wonder. The film won the Grand Prix of San Remo Film Festival, Italy 1971.

"Pastoral Hide and Seek" (1974) is Terayama's most important masterpiece, which also gained him a worldwide reputation as one of Japan's most innovative filmmakers. It tells how life is just a show and his ultimate pursuit of revolt. The first half of the film abounds with familiar visual elements while the second half aims at erasing the boundary between reality and memory. The film won the New Talent Award, Japan Arts Festival 1974.

Terayama's passion with boxing is not only featured in his novels but he finally puts it into the film "The Boxer" (1977), his only commercial work. A young man who is crippled begs an ex-champion boxer to be his coach. One of them has lost all hope in life and the one is aspiring to become a boxer and make a fortune.

"Fruits of Passion" (1981) is developed from Pauline Reage's famous novel "The Story of O - Return to the Chateau". A young girl in Shanghai falls for a rich old man yet he sells her to a brothel. The film was made in Shochiku's studio at Oofuna, yet its outdoor scenes were shot in Hong Kong. In early years, this was the only Terayama film of which the video was available in Hong Kong.

The medium-length production "Labyrinth in the Field" (1978) was made for a French investment known as the Private Bed Collection. Akira, the protagonist, sets off on a mysterious journey where devilish beautiful girls form the axis.

Not to be missed are the "Theatre Works of Tenjo Sajiki on Video" which includes the performances on "Shintokumaru" (1978) and "The Lemming, the Man Who Walks through Walls" (1983) as well as 11 short films.

Other than "The Boxer" and theatre video, all other films have been classified as Category III and only aged 18 and above ticket holders will be admitted. Other than theatre video, all films are with English subtitles.

Tickets priced at $50 (film) and $20 (theatre video) are available at URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. There will be a 10% discount for Friends of LCSD venues or for each purchase of 6 to 10 tickets and a 20% discount for each purchase of 11 or more tickets.

For programme information, call 2734 2900 or visit . Reservations can be made by phone on 2734 9009 or on the internet at .

Ends/Tuesday, October 24, 2006
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