North American Premiere
145 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles
Friday, July 13 @ 8:40pm (buy tickets)
(NOTE: your ticket to Let’s Make the Teacher Have a Miscarriage Club entitles you to admission for all three movies. It’s just a quirk of the ticketing system that it only names LMTTHAMC.)
Three short films that might just be the most extreme, challenging, and jaw-dropping films we’re showing this summer, all wrapped up in one breathless package that we could only call THE ATROCITY EXHIBITION.
LET’S MAKE THE TEACHER HAVE A MISCARRIAGE CLUB
(Japan, 2012, 60 minutes)
Directed by: Eisuke Naito
Starring: Aki Miyata, Kaori Kobayashi, Hiromu Takara, Nanase Takemori, Suzuno Aiba, Sawaki Muroga, Yuriko Onuma
Coming in at a cool 60 minutes, and loosely based on a true story (no, really), MISCARRIAGE CLUB is exactly what it sounds like and like nothing you’d expect. And it may be one of our most important films of 2012, for all the right reasons. Not for the faint of heart, the movie opens on five bored junior high girls staring into a rabbit hutch. Mizuki, the dead-eyed ringleader, grabs one of the rabbits, climbs to the top of a nearby playground slide, and punts the animal to the ground, killing it instantly. The other girls giggle, but Mizuki doesn’t see what’s so funny. Their teacher, Sawako (Aki Miyata) is four months pregnant, and stronger than the rest of her impotent, ineffectual colleagues. She wants to help her Village of the Damned students, but she can’t get their parents on the phone, and she’s becoming increasingly concerned for her safety and the safety of her unborn child.
Written and directed by independent filmmaker Eisuke Naito, the nano-budgeted LET’S MAKE TEACHER HAVE A MISCARRIAGE CLUB plays like a super-compressed version of NYAFF 2010’s smash hit Confessions, only rawer, less stylized, and with an alternate, but no less unflinching, view of the human condition, and the tension of its harrowing game of cat and mouse eats away at you like vintage Hitchcock. Opposite a collection of eerily effective non-professionals, Aki Miyata gives a ferociously courageous performance in what could’ve been a thankless role, making Sawako iron-willed and deeply layered. The score features a nerve-jangling carnival calliope that turns electronic and atonal before devolving into rhythmic, throbbing pulses, and when the bravura finale comes, it’s light-years beyond the dime-store Western psycho-thrillers that talk big but can’t deliver – and contains at least one absolutely horrific shot which made even the hardened NYAFF staff gasp.
Why do the girls want to kill their teacher’s child? There are no easy answers, no pat rationales, no acceptable framework to apply. Children can be terrible and cruel. People do things they can never take back. And sometimes, just sometimes, everything changes. Here’s the deal: LET’S MAKE TEACHER HAVE A MISCARRIAGE CLUB is a truly great film. It’s a genuinely traumatic,and enlightening voyage through a waking nightmare (and beyond) which demands to be seen – especially when no one else will show it.
(Japan, 2012, 54 minutes)
Directed by: Hajime Ohata
Starring: Kazunari Aizawa, Aki Morita
It’s time for some good, old-fashioned nightmare fuel. HENGE (“Metamorphosis”) is the twisted by-product of one really fucked-up night where David Cronenberg, Andrzej Zulawski and Shinya Tsukamoto got together, drank a lot of Four Loko, then exhumed Franz Kafka’s corpse and made sweet love to it – then got out the webcam. It ain’t right, and after you watch it you won’t ever be right again, either.
Yoshiaki and Keiko are a normal couple except for one small problem: Yoshiaki suffers from violent, terrifying full-body seizures. Under hypnosis, he speaks in an unknown, alien language, and his uncontrollable episodes have shattered the young couple’s suburban existence. His doctor wants to institutionalize him, but Keiko refuses to give up on her husband. Unfortunately, the bugs that live in Yoshiaki’s mind are growing insatiable, and soon he begins to transform into an insectoid horror. The men in white coats come to take him away, but no cell can contain him and no amount of blood can slake his hunger. A monster is stalking the streets, dogs are howling in the night, and something so much more than human is rapping its talons against Keiko’s front door. How far would you go in the name of love? And what does it mean to become the bride of the monster?
The first long-form feature from newcomer Hajime Ohata, HENGE grossed out the ever-game audience at the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival, and it wasn’t even finished at the time. Made for pennies, it highlights suggestion over expensive effects and mood over sustained action, slowly infusing you with dread until your lungs are choked with bile and you can’t even breathe. Ohata’s theme is unconditional love versus disease, and his gruesome vignette packs hours of psychological terror and glorious homemade gore into 54 mins before taking a turn into another classic genre altogether (you wouldn’t believe us if we told you), and his bravura Michael Bay-with-50-cents finale is a mighty roar of underground filmmaking brio.
THE BIG GUN
(Japan, 2008, 31 minutes)
Directed by: Hajime Ohata
Starring: Takahiro Ono, Hiromi Miyagawa
A lyrical ode to metal work and hand-crafted death, this is the award-winning first short film from Hajime Ohata, director of Henge. A rundown, family-owned iron works in the middle of nowhere gets a quick, lucrative job. Their client wants them to disassemble a revolver and make at least ten copies. Ikuo agress, because he really doesn’t have any choice, and what follows is a beautiful essay in metalsmithing. It turns out, however, that the client is the yakuza, and once Ikuo turns in his job, his shop will become nothing more than a production facility for death, never allowed to take on any other work by its new yakuza masters, who have them by the short hairs. And so Ikuo fights back the only way he knows how: by building another gun. But this time he’s building The Big Gun.