Kurosaka and His Dark Design

After the massive success of last years Japanese programming block, the 2011 Gold Coast Film Festival is reaching further and deeper into the archipelago’s cinematic offering with its freshly branded Cool Japan Gold Coast program. And Festival organisers have managed to secure some impressive and diverse delights this year including the bitter-sweet feature length anime Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below from multi award-winning director Makoto Shinkai (Three Centimeter Per Second); Takashi Miike’s brutal Edo period drama 13 Assassins; Anh Hung Tran’s seminal adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood and the metaphysical sci-fi action duet Gantz & Gantz: Perfect Answer staring the irrepressible Ken’ichi Matsuyama who also headlines the emotive Norwegian Wood.

However, one of the festivals more idiosyncratic draw cards has to be the Australian premiere of experimental animator Keita Kurosaka’s long gestating animated feature Midori-Ko, a dystopian and subjectively grotesque excursion into Japan’s psyche via a sublime, compelling and hypnotic dark fable. Running at satisfying 55 minutes, Midori-Ko is compiled from roughly 30,000 hand drawn sketches methodically created, single handedly, by Kurosaka over a ten-year period.

“One of the things that really surprised me…” explains the Tokyo based artist/director “Was that my daughter, who was born at the time we began production, and who was also the model for Midori-Ko, had turned 12 when we finally completed production.

“But while working on the film for so long a time, I often felt a sense of uneasiness with its progress. But looking back, the experience now revives itself as a purely bright memory for me.”

In fact, Kuroska’s previous works, which include the 2005 short animation The Face and the notorious Agitated Screams of Maggots music video for Japanese metal band Dir en Grey, have garnered the animator a certain infamy in the realms of Japanese independent cinema, a genre which Kurosaka respectfully acknowledges as his adoptive professional outlet, but which he openly admits serves as only a part of his personal tastes as a viewer.

“As a film goer, I enjoy watching commercial animation films and I even have some which are personal favorites.”

“But as a creator, I’ve never thought that they are in the same genre of the animation I’m aiming at. Take ‘sports’ for example; it’s a common word, but there are many genres such as tennis, baseball, sumo etc. Each with its own value.”

However, when asked to express his personal opinion toward the state and quality of Japan’s contemporary animation industry, Kurosaka, who currently holds a teaching position at Tokyo’s Musashino Art University, offers an intuitively decisive answer.

“I’m not a critic. And to be honest, as improving on my own creation is the extent of my ability right now, I can’t afford to spend time criticizing other filmmakers. In fact I’m not even qualified to do so.”

Midori-Ko will make its Australian Premiere on November 26 at the 2011 Gold Coast Film Festival as part of the Cool Japan Gold Coast program.

    J. Fletcher

    Based in Sydney, Australia. Entertainment Journalist. Critic. Photographer. Coffee Snob. Not necessarily in that order.

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