Wild Japan: Sex in Japanese Cinema of the 60s and 70s

Date: 1 December 2008 – 30 December 2008
Venue: BFI Southbank

The sexual preoccupations of Wakamatsu’s movie were indicative of a rising and unstoppable tide. The first Japanese screen kiss came late (in 1946) but only a decade later a cycle of taiyozoku (or ‘Sun Tribe Films’), which centred around the decadent generation of post-war Japanese teens, would push the boundaries of screen eroticism beyond anything seen in American cinema of the same period. In the mid-1960s, against a backdrop of ever-increasing independent pink film production, highly regarded film-makers Kaneto Shindo and Hiroshi Teshigahara would produce two masterpieces – Onibaba and Woman of the Dunes – which shocked international audiences with their sexual candour.
Later in the 1960s, as independent sex film production threatened to swamp the Japanese film market entirely, the Nikkatsu studio launched its glorious roman porno (softcore ‘romantic pornography’) strand of movies. A slew of highly talented directors – Noboru Tanaka, Masaru Konuma and Tatsumi Kumashiro included – used reasonable budgets and Nikkatsu studio stars to create some of the most memorable and artistic sex films in cinema history.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Japanese filmmakers produced a series of films of unprecedented sexual candour. Returning to this legendary period of ‘pink films’, BFI Southbank celebrates the aesthetic achievements of these erotic masterpieces. Highlights of the thirteen films in the line-up include, Nagisa Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses and Koji Wakamatsu’s Secrets Behind the Wall. The Japan Foundation has supported this season through the loan of six films.

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