|Special Invitation Films|
Material & Memories
JAPAN / 2009 / Japanese / Color, B&W / 8mm / 145 min / Three-screen multi-screen, with live music and live narration
Director, Photography, Editing, Music, Producer: Hara Masato
Live screening: Tomori Eitaro
Live music: Kaneko Yu (Base), Maori (Vocal), Hara Kobou (Percussion) and others
Source: Hara Masato web.kyoto-inet.or.jp/people/hara-mov/
Inspired by Henri Bergson’s assertion that the world is comprised of images, Material and Memories is a live-screened film that ventures into uncharted territory. Using three 8mm projectors—the only device capable of projecting images at various speeds—radiant, dreamlike images unfold on a CinemaScope screen, rocking the viewers’ memories like a music performance.
The title is taken from Bergson’s book Matière et Mémoire, which was written at the time of the birth of film in the late 19th century and discusses issues important to film in philosophical terms. I return to the origins of film to reexamine the roots of film history.
- The entire work is projected in original 8mm film. At a time when digital formats have become the standard, 8mm film is the medium that preserves most strongly the memory of the birth of film.
- Projected at four frames per second, the film keeps time in slow motion. The movement of the grain of the film synchronizes with the body, sustains, and becomes generative time.
- The different temporal rhythms of the three separately projected images allow viewers complete freedom of perception.
The prologue, “Bell Journey: Exploring Bergson,” weaves together images of the birth of film in the 19th century when the growth of railroads spurred development.
In “Journey to the Original Country,” restored footage from the legendary The First Emperor, whose 8mm film was damaged by fire, is projected in three frames to form three-dimensional strata of time, as if memory itself had been split on a vertical axis.
Images of the Berlin Wall and the hippie mecca, Marrakesh, are interspersed with the abstract art images of footage transformed by the heat of the fire in “Tokyo, Berlin, Marrakesh ’74.”
In “Kyoto Life 2003” and “Nostalgia 2009,” scenes from my daily life unfold in three different temporal frames and, liberated, overlap with the memories of the audience to create a dense personal and universal flow of time.
Comprised of these chapters, this live-screened series, with live narration and musical performance by the Hara Masato Cinema Band, spans two and a half hours (including intermission). Specially organized for Yamagata, this live performance is not to be missed!
Born in 1950 in Tokyo. As a student at Azabu High School, Hara made the film A Sad Yet Funny Ballad (1968), which won the Tokyo Film Art Festival’s grand prize and the ATG Prize, launching him as a pioneer in Japanese independent filmmaking. He co-wrote the script and made the trailer for Oshima Nagisa’s film The Man Who Left His Will on Film (1970), and made The First Emperor (1973–1993, YIDFF ’93), which he presented in live screenings. After these experiences, he explored the origins of cinema, resulting in a definition of the mythology and physical structure of film. His other works include a haiku movie The Eternal Traveler (1993, YIDFF ’95), his first commercially released fiction film 20th Century Nostalgia (1997, winner of the New Directors Award from the Directors Guild of Japan), and a live-screened film MI-TA-RI! (2002, Audience Award at the Frankfurt International Film Festival). He recently completed a feature film, I Wish You Were Here, and is now exhibiting the live-screened Material & Memories. A live screening of Never Ending Summer was held at YIDFF ’97.