Friday, May 19 at 9:00PM
Directed by Katsuyuki Hirano
Japan 1986, DCP, color, 126 min. Japanese with English subtitles
A full-frontal attack on mid-1980s conservative Japan, Happiness Avenue features a rowdy cast (including Sion Sono) wreaking havoc on the town of Shizuoka. Kicking off with its countermodel—a disciplined right-wing group lined up and demanding the return of the Kuril Islands from the Soviet Union—Katsuyuki Hirano and his group counter with only loosely organized anarchy. Straddling the line between documentary, street performance art and juvenile provocations, the film culminates in an exploration of the town’s sewage system that becomes a health hazard for its participants. Nominally based on a manga by Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo, the film has no obvious relation to its supposed source material. Hirano continued into one of the more unconventional careers of Pia award-winning directors. Rather than enter mainstream filmmaking, he became notorious for shooting highly experimental pornography for the video circuit, as well as documentaries about his bicycle tours that showed widely at international film festivals, among them Yumika (1997) with his on-and-off lover, adult video star Yumika Hayashi.
Film descriptions by Alexander Zahlten.
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