London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF) 2007 is delighted to be celebrating 100 years of Japanese animation with the special screening of three landmark films. Curated by author and specialist in Japanese cinema, Jasper Sharp, it includes Santoshi Kon’s award-winning Millennium Actress (2001)along with the premieres of two overlooked classics that have rarely been screened in the UK :Maasaki Yuasa’s hallucinatory cult fantasy Mind Game (2004), and Osamu Tezuka and Eiichi Yamamoto’s provocative Cleopatra: Queen of Sex (1970). In addition, there are two panel discussions in London and Bristol looking at the history and impact of animation.
MIND GAME (2004) – Director: Masaaki Yuasa/ Japan/ 103min
Comic book artist Nishi in the course of one night meets his ex-girlfriend and her fiancé, gets involved in a yakuza deal and ends up being shot dead. Unwilling to accept his life end lik this, he he journeys to heaven and back, intending to rewrite history and embarking on a psychedelic experience of self-discovery. Based on Robin Nishi’s popular manga, it was a multi-award winner at Canada’s Fantasia Festival and has subsequently developed a cult status, much praised by Santoshi Kon.
Screening: Thursday 26th October, 6pm, London Film School
Followed by special anime panel discussion with programmer Jasper Sharp, anime authority Helen McCrory and London International Animation Festival founder Nag Vladermersky , 8pm.
CLEOPATRA: QUEEN OF SEX (1970) – Directors: Osamu Tezuka and Eiichi Yamamoto / Japan/ 112min
When Earth is threatened by an alien invasion in the far-flung future, three intergalactic travellers are mentally whisked back in time to ancient Egypt hoping to learn from Cleopatra’s court how to thwart the aliens’ plan and seducing the Queen of the Nile in the process. Originally released simply as Cleopatra, this is an erotic comedy but co-directors Tezuka, known as ‘the God of Manga’, and Yamamoto are best remembered for the TV series Astro Boy and Simba the Lion that formed the basis for Disney’s The Lion King.
Screening: Sunday 22nd October, 7pm, Picturehouse Central
MILLENNIUM ACTRESS (2001) – Director: Satoshi Kon/ Japan/ 87min
A TV interviewer and his cameraman meet a former actress and travel through her memories and career. The film’s lasting legacy is reflected in its many international awards and serves as a fitting tribute to Santoshi Kon, who died in 2010, as one of the creative masters of anime after making an impact with his first feature Perfect Blue(1997).
Screening: Wed 25th October, 6pm, London Film School.
A panel discussion with Jasper Sharp, animator Ben Mitchell and Kieran Argo, animation programmer for Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival, takes place on 25th October at UWE Bristol University, 12pm.
All these films reflect LEAFF’s overarching theme this year of Time and the perception of time. Building on the success of last year’s first edition, LEAFF is showcasing enchanting stories, insightful discussions, and diverse filmic voices from South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, China, and Southeast Asia. This includes 7 international premieres, 7 European premieres and 13 UK premieres, which are screening around central London including ODEON Leicester Square, Picturehouse Central, Regent Street Cinema, Empire Cinema Haymarket, ODEON Panton Street, and East London’s Rich Mix.