News and Opinion

The Place of Oshima

The New York Film Festival is currently doing a quite substantial retro of the films of Oshima Nagisa, organized by James Quandt of the Cinematheque Ontario (James edited the nice volume on Ichikawa Kon for which I contributed a piece). Richard Pena, the director of the NYFF, invited me to be on a panel for the retro entitled "The Place of Oshima" that took place on October 1. My fellow panelists were Annette Michelson, who edited the valuable translations (via French, oddly) of Oshima's writings Cinema, Censorship, and the State; and David Desser, author of Eros Plus Massacre, a major work that I still make my students buy. It was a good event, with about 60 people in attendance. Annette talked about the place of Oshima in modernism (noting, quite interestingly, connections with Barthes, Sartre, and Bataille) and David did a great introduction to the reception of Oshima abroad, emphasizing in particular the sad fact that Oshima was mostly discovered abroad through In the Realm of the Senses, well past his peak in Japan (which may explain why no film before that work has come out on DVD in the USA). My talk was a bit too ambitious: I tried to take my research on the Ai no korida censorship case (published in the January 2000 issue of Yuriika) and combine it with an analysis of The Man Who Left His Will on Film via landscape theory (fukeiron), to consider the sexual body in Oshima as a physical form of theorizing, one that intimately ties production and reception and distances Oshima from the poststructuralist theory many Western scholars try to impose upon him. It didn't quite work, but the panel came together well during the discussion. Richard treated us to dinner afterwards, but I ended up getting back home at about 1:30 am. It's been a tiring week!

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