Where to Aim, When to Shoot

Film as a weapon in a time of war: Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival coverage.

As for his own six-month tour of the film-fest circuit, Eberhardt hopes to finalize deals with cable TV companies to broadcast Long Gone in the U.S. and Europe, and to publish that long-planned book of his train-hopping photographs.

"The road trip will let me get some of that itch out of my system," says Eberhardt, who has no intention of giving up his nomadic ways. "By spring of next year," he reports, "I'll be down in New Orleans to follow this houseboat of punks up and down the river."

 

David Eberhardt will appear at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 18 at Oak Street Cinema to introduce a screening ofLong Gone and answer questions afterward.

 

In Full Bloom

'Lily Festival' finds Japanese 'Pink Film' director Sachi Hamano turning a new leaf

By Melissa Maerz

If there's one thing in this world that makes life worth living, it's death. In Sachi Hamano's film Lily Festival, the narrator, an old woman who recently died, hints from beyond the grave that the more we're aware of the limited time we have to experience everything fully, the less apt we are to take our days on earth for granted. But because this particular angel gleans most of her knowledge from overseeing the carnal activities of senior citizens, one gets the sense that there might be another way she'd like to phrase the idea. For instance: Our proximity to the grave is inversely proportional to our joie de vivre--so why can't elderly women be out having free-love orgies in the streets?

It's a damn good question, and one that Hamano is doing her best to answer. "Japan is fast approaching the time when it will have far more older people than any other country in the world," explains the middle-aged Japanese filmmaker, speaking on the phone from Tokyo via interpreter. "There seem to be many more women in their 60s and 70s than men, and many women feel that after menopause, sex is over. I'm trying to break through that concept. Sex shouldn't be dominated by physical changes. What matters is your mind, your attitude, your feelings about how you make love. You have to put the mind over the body."

Or maybe it's just a matter of putting the body on your mind. A brainy master of erotic fantasies, Hamano has been making softcore Japanese porn--or "pink film," as it's known--for more than three decades. She directed her first film when she was a mere 21 years old. "At the time, Japanese porn was very different from American porn," she says with a laugh. "Even a woman's nipple wasn't allowed to be shown in the film." Hamano recalls that, back then, major Japanese film companies told her they would only hire male college graduates. (Things aren't much better today: Hamano estimates that, out of 600 Japanese directors, only five are women.) Ironically, in a country known for its conservative sex and gender roles, the pink genre became the only field in which a young woman could easily make her own films.

Since those early days, Hamano has made more than 300 low-budget pink films, raising the funds by herself from independent (and mostly female) donors. Without much help from government grants (notoriously outspoken Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara insisted, "I don't have any tax money to waste on old women having sex"), Lily Festival has become the second of Hamano's projects to reach the international art-house circuit. The film follows septuagenarian Casanova (Mickey Curtiss), a semi-sleazy romantic who sports a ponytail and beret as he seduces a group of women in a senior housing community. But although the 75-year-old lover incites much giggling when he fiddles with their locks at night, two of these women (Kayoko Shiraishi and Kazuko Yoshiyuki) end up using him as little more than a key to unlatch Pandora's box: Later, they discover that, without this ladies' man, they can make each other giggle just as easily on their own.

Hamano hopes that the pink film audience will eventually be filled with as many of these giggling women as men: She notes that it's just as important to change men's attitudes about women's sexuality as it is to change women's minds about their own libidos. Recently she has been showing Lily Festival in community centers around Japan, to audiences filled with elderly women who are thrilled to find sex-positive depictions of themselves. But when Hamano watches her protagonists, she doesn't see her next 20 years reflected in the rendezvous: Rather, she sees her childhood. "My mother was always very supportive of my work," she says proudly. "She was a widow at 35 years of age, and she met a man after her husband died, but Japanese society didn't really allow her to have sex again, or even to think about sex, or to get married. As a daughter, I was very upset about that. I felt that it was extremely unfair, and I was angry. But that anger became my energy for producing these movies."

In her mother's past, Hamano found her future. As Lily Festival's narrator might say: Life always makes sense in hindsight. It's a shame we can't live it backward. But we can always push things forward.

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