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Japanese 'pink' film - or pinku eiga - is in the international eye now as never before. Scholars such as Jasper Sharp have been the driving force towards early critical examination of the genre - Sharp having written a book on the topic and organized a traveling retrospective of landmark pink films - while recent productions such as the Tribeca-selected Underwater Love have given some mainstream traction. And now the genre is getting the documentary treatment.

Director Yves Montmayeur already boasts documentaries about Johnnie To, Christopher Doyle, yakuza eiga and more to his credit. His work is well enough respected that he has received the retrospective treatment at international festivals - Fantasia did one a few years back - and his latest is Pinku Eiga: Inside the Pleasure Dome Of Japanese Erotic Cinema.

Inside The Pleasure Dome Of Japanese Erotic Cinema focuses on one of the most famous branches of japanese filmmaking, the erotic Pink film genre, known as pinku eiga, and the closely related Roman Porno cult films series produced by notorious Nikkatsu studios from 1971 to 1988.

Films of this genre first appeared in the early 1960s, and dominated the Japanese domestic cinema for decades, dealing constantly with local censorship. Major studios and independent companies started to blend in violence element into the pinku eiga, creating sub genres such like SM bondage. For the first time this film documentary takes the viewer on a wild journey into the backyards of Japanese culture and society, where the weird and wonderful world of sex films mingled with radical politics and pop culture. Many key figures from this popular cinema talk here about their involvement in this unique adventure.
Already confirmed to premiere at the Paris Cinema International Film Festival before moving on to San Sebastian, the film includes interviews with notable figures such as Tani Naomi, Arisue Go, Takahasa Zeze, Oniroku Dan, Ryuichi Hiroki, Konuma Masaru, Aoyama Minami,
Makoto Nara, Asakura Daisuke (Sato Keiko), Kurosawa Kiyoshi, Christopher Doyle, Ogawa Kinya, Koda Riri, Sugimoto Aya, Nabeshima Takaoki, Yoshiyuki Hayashida, Maeda Yonozo, Nishimura Shogoro, and Wakamatsu Koji.

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Yves MontmayeurGô ArisueChristopher DoyleYoshiyuki HayashidaMasaru KonumaDocumentary
Greg ChristieJune 2, 2011 12:52 PM

Now, unless they really discuss and evaluate issues of violence and rape in pink films, particularly roman porno/ Ero guro which really began as pseudo intellectual faux snuff films based on real serial rapist/murder cases before evolving into Pinky Violence with big time films starring Meiko Kaiji, then I'm not interested. And from their press release, sounds like more naive Otaku Asianphile bullshit. Most of these quote on quote "radical, politcally transgressive" porn films of the 60's are not really transgressive or progressive as they are fascist, xenophobic, and horrifyingly mysoginistic. The themese and issues are far from weird and wonderful. Pissed off teachers kidnapping underage students to rape and murder while spouting right wing political manifestos out of rage from a democratized Japan. Yeah.... Japanese erotica is unique from the rest of the world and is undeniably interesting, but I am tired of it being festishized, and romanticized for western consumption. Even the American museum of sex ran a huge exhibit on Japanese erotica a few years back that was pure orientalist garbage praising how progressive the Japanese are. There's a very very dark underbelly within the soft-core pink world that leads into some supremely fucked up shit in the actual hardcore porn underworld. As with everything else in Japanese culture, the two are intrinsically linked together.. Jasper Sharp's book is an invaluable and staggeringly well researched historical text, but it's suprisngly too objective. There’s nothing cute or funny about titles like Groper Train, not when Chikan culture is actual problem/epidemic.

fergus1948June 2, 2011 3:31 PM

Thank you Greg Christie…

As someone who has had a long-time love affair with Japan and its culture (both traditional and popular) I have tried never to be blind to the malaises within that culture.

While I bow down in awe to the magnificent response of the Japanese people to their recent tragedies, I am also aware of the problems inherent in Japanese family life, the demands placed upon people by their work culture and the apparent loneliness and disconnected-ness of so many Japanese people.

They are not alone in that of course but it does seem to be magnified by the social demands of repressing outward displays of emotion. And of course, any kind of internal repression inevitably leads to occasional and sometimes horrifying bursts of violence.

From Mizoguchi onwards, Japanese film makers have highlighted the sorrow and tragedy of the female role in a patriarchal society and the cruelty (physical, sexual or emotional) which can be visited upon them.

Other film makers have taken the alternative route of suggesting that women either deserve, desire or enjoy sexual congress which involves pain and/or humiliation. Too many of the latter for my taste.

I am always suspicious of people who attempt to make their sexual peccadilloes respectable by cloaking them in some garbled pseudo-philosophical or political theory which attempts to give it intellectual and artistic validity when the truth is they just simply like the stuff that turns them on.

Greg is right to point out that though there are artistic nuggets among the dross, the bulk of pinku stuff is (like western porn) exploitative and misogynistic.

These arguments would be worthless if I portrayed myself as someone who lived in a utopian society where all women were free from male oppression but I don't. My own society is fractured and dysfunctional enough but let's not pretend that the 'exoticness' of pinku inherently makes it artistically legitimate.

hgullicksonJune 2, 2011 6:48 PM

its easy to forget that the films were not made by theorists but by mostly men who were for the most part looking to get their rocks off, as well as the viewers rocks off... the films excited men, and women, for the better or worse... and continue to... japan is an extreme place.
Now the wests reaction to japan, I often find disgusting, as well... but also, we must realize, that with the west comes our puritan moral values... which demonizes sexual nature... which the west more or less imposed on to places like japan... if you remove the lens of your subconsious puritan value system... from the right and wrong of these films.. it changes the equation... a lot. Does it make everything "right"? no, but it does allow the men and woman ACTING in these films a more honest expression of there own story... one which doesnt involve western shame... and blaming.
If you want to see fucked up sociality... take a look at america...
we hide our dismal social situation... and imagine a place of freedom... our world is full of extremely disfunctional roles... that these films pale in comparison to... really. And hollywood, back-up the lies... for real.
so there films depict violence against women?
where in the world is there more rape? america or japan?
well for starts lets just ask REPORTED rapes...
america is 9 on the list... japan 54 on the list....
japan is know for showing extreme situations... american... lives them out....
which is better?

Greg ChristieJune 3, 2011 2:02 PM

Ok... You're argument fails on a multitude of levels, so many, I don't even know where o begin.

As far as REPORTED rapes are concerned, that's irrelevent. If you know anything at all about Japan, you know that a suspected 90 some % of cases are not reported since the judicial system is mostly against women. Going back to talking about cultures based on shame, Japan is all about shame. Women who are raped are generally shamed into believing that it was their own fault. That happens in the U.S. too, it happens everywhere. But it's almost a rite of passage to becoming a woman for a young girl to be raped in Japan. Hell, that's actually a pretty popular theme even in mainstream film, literature, and art. This is really too big and complicated of an issue to go into here, that's mostly why I ended spending over a year in Japan working on a documentary about this, so it's first hand knowledge which is why my ears perk up when I see another film/book exploring this issue. But I don't want to start a Japan bashing thread here. This is a very specific issue within the culture. We all have our dark sides.

For the most part, Pink films ARE simulated with ACTORS. But not always, and more importantly, there's a lot of Yakuza ties with Pink films, and those same ties are what drive the hardcore industry. There is a lot of overlap and it's pretty damn amazing actually. What needs to explored and discussed are the motives or origins behind the fantasies being protrayed in the films. It's about honesty?

Interesting enough, there was a short fad of pink/porn made by Japanese women featuring Japanese women......I'm gonna dig myselt into a horrible, horrible hole here. But it mostly featured foreigners, and didn't have ANY rape. So I don't think these pink films reflect women's interests or desires.

And again, if women have to have their own fucking train car specifically to prevent rape, there's probably a problem, and trivalizing that or feeding into that in porngraphy is something that should and needs to be looked into. If someone were to make a hardcore porn re-enactment of Sharon Tate murders or maybe something more recent, something still in the news, and released theatrically as masturbatory material, I think it's safe to assume people would have a problem with that. That's how the pink industry of the 60's really got its start. Making jerk off material based on real cases of rape/murder.

I like a lot of pink films, it's not some sub-concious American puritan judgement. Sex is one thing, violence and rape is another. And your cheap anthropoligical assessment is silly with the sub-concious puritan values. Very sophmoric really. And by that argument, I guess child trafficking and pornography is ok, cause you know, in some areas of the world, it's pretty well accepted. I don't want to relate japanese pink films with child sex slaves... but.. actually, I can.

Most grauve models are actually undergage. Many idols are 13-15, they're mostly bikini videos that don't feature nudity and therefore skirt most anti child pornography laws. But it's still strictly masturbatory material featuring late middleschoolers/early highschoolers. ANd it's really just training for the porn they'll do when they are legal. Many hardcore AV idols are blackmailed into doing porn by the yakuza, if you've ever been to Tokyo, I'm sure you've see the "scouts" running around. Many are raped for real on set. Even with harmless, tongue in cheek, softcore pink films, many actresses are gang raped by crew members on set.

There are popular publications that can be bought at any 711 on any street corner in Tokyo which showcase pictures of real men raping real women that they met and drugged at bars and photographed with their cell phones. The faces are blurred out, and you could possibly argue that it's still fake, or simulated. But as someone who lived in Kabuki-cho with Yakuza connecions, I can tell you, many times, it is not.Obviously, that's not the same as Female Yakuza tale, or something fun and awesome like Sachiko Hanai or most other Roman Pinku stuff. But, if we're looking at Pink film as a collective whole, there's crossover. And if I'm a puritan for having a problem with that, well so be it, the French and whoever else can kiss my hairy Greek ass if they think that's sexually progressive.

hgullicksonJune 14, 2011 1:30 AM

hey... I dont like getting into internet cock fights... Honestly... sorry, you missed my pretty even keel points,,, maybe not clear... maybe you're just looking to argue.
why u rambling on about all this.. I already know first hand everything you mentioned.. u trying to impress someone w your deep knowledge of fucked up situations? I'm there w you... I"ve been around... so you got yakuza connections? I dont even know why we're bring that up if youre really down. You down for real? you down?
2 xgirlfriend of mine were hooked up so I know too... the lasting scars etc.
Japan is fucked up. I agree...
I think, you want to fight for real? or throw words around. um, imo puritans do a lot of judging and are very self righteous in their opinions. ? not looking for a fight...