Thursday, October 22, 2009

United Red Army (2007)

Jitsuroku: Rengo Sekigun - Asama Sansō E No Michi (a.k.a. United Red Army) - Directed by Kōji Wakamatsu
実録・連合赤軍 あさま山荘への道程 (監督:若松孝二)

As part of a three-week retrospective, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco has been showing a collection of films by director Kōji Wakamatsu, a number of which are being screened in the U.S. for the first time.

Wakamatsu is best known for his racy, provocative films in the "pink eiga" genre, most of which feature a liberal dose of sex, drugs and violence, amplifying the attitude of Japanese counterculture during the 1960s and 70s.

In the final piece of the series, United Red Army, Wakamatsu chooses to focus on the tragic demise of the Red Army Faction, a group of young Japanese radicals whose members proliferated a series of terrorist attacks throughout the 1970s. With the help of archival footage, the 2007 film recreates the events surrounding the Asama-Sansō incident. Largely unknown outside of Japan, this nationally televised event saw police involved in a standoff with the U.R.A. for over a week amidst a heated hostage situation.

"Wakamatsu brilliantly reconstructs the most troubling episode in the bloody history of Japanese student-radical extremism through the true story of the United Red Army faction, which had its roots in the '60s when Japanese students protested America using Japan as a staging base for its war in Vietnam. In 1972, 14 members of the United Red Army faction lynched each other during group “self-criticism” sessions, which quickly degenerated into a ten-day stand-off with the police that is one of the pivotal moments in Japanese history, as famous in Japan as Martin Luther King’s assassination is in America. This gut-wrenching docudrama is underlaid with electrifying psychedelic rock music by Jim O’Rourke." (Michael Prazan)

United Red Army runs for one day only, Thursday, October 29th at 7p, concluding Pink Cinema Revolution: The Radical Films of Kōji Wakamatsu at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

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