BAD FILM (Japan, 2012)
North American Premiere
161 minutes, HD CAM, in Japanese with English subtitles
Co-Presentation with Japan Cuts
Directed by: Sion Sono
Starring: Tokyo Gagaga
Eighteen years ago, Japan’s reigning enfant terrible Sion Sono (best known to NYAFF audiences for Love Exposure, and Suicide Club) was the leader of Tokyo GAGAGA, a 2000 member-strong guerrilla performance art collective. Together, they created a new kind of cinematic lifeform: 150+ hours of a post-apocalyptic GLBT gangster saga shot on raw Hi-8 video, set on the eve of the impending Hong Kong handover. It was a punk rock scream to the future, but the world wasn’t ready for it. Life intervened, Sono’s career blossomed, and the endless hours of footage were left on the cutting room floor. Until today. Now BAD FILM is here. It has awakened. And it is very, very angry.
In an alternate history 1997, Tokyo is a gangland war zone, divided between feuding factions from the Chinese Baihubang and the Japanese Kamikaze. The Kamikaze prowl the streets in a campaign bus, spewing vitriol from a loudspeaker; their leader is a bald lunatic whose only abiding passion is for a severed pig’s head he keeps in a plastic bag. The hyperactive narrator tells us that ancient race hatred is the war’s driving force. But when one Kamikaze girl meets a beautiful Chinese junk dealer, a lesbionic Romeo & Juliet story blossoms. Soon, they and the other closeted queers, freaks, and cripples of the rival gangs band together to form a more perfect, omnisexual union. The day of destiny is fast approaching, and it appears that the years of old grudges and mutually assured destruction are at an end. Nothing could be stronger than love. Except hate.
BAD FILM is not something you follow or objectively critique, it’s a beast you wrestle with and try to hold onto for dear life. With a cast of thousands (including Sono himself, reprising the role of a gay thug from his film Bicycle Sighs) and a relentless underground aesthetic, its savage rhythms, melancholy loops and emotional outbursts are far more integral to its whole than any single plot point or character. A thematic soul sister to experimental cinema like Derek Jarman’s Jubilee and Lizzie Borden’s Born in Flames, it is an epic meditation on love, hate, pride, youth, bigotry, and sexual freedom. It is everything to everyone at once, a frenzied blast of projectile vomit in the face of Japanese gentility, and it has come to destroy everything and everybody. If it cannot change you, it will annihilate everything in its path to make a new world, saving the last holocaust for itself.
Friday July 12, 6:00PM Japan Society Buy Tickets