Wim Wenders in Tokyo

German filmmaker and photographer Wim Wenders will be in town later this month for a couple (perhaps more?) events that those in the Tokyo area might be interested in.

At the new Omotesando Hills building there will be an exhibition entitled Journey to Onomichi, featuring photos by Wenders and his wife Donata, which will run from April 29 – May 7. The series came about in part because of Wenders’ long-term desire to visit Onomichi, which figures prominently in one of Wenders’ favorite films, Ozu’s Tokyo Story. (Interesting to note that just a month or two after the Wenders visited Onomichi, I did too for much the same reasons).

On May 1st, Wenders will be lecturing and presenting some short films of his at the Ikebukuro campus of Rikkyo University (poster here). The event is free. I believe he’ll be speaking in English with a Japanese interpreter but I’m not sure.

There was a time when I was a huge Wenders fan, starting from when I first saw Paris, Texas (in Texas, appropriately enough, in 1985). Later that year I would see his documentaries Chambre 666, Reverse Angle, and Tokyo-ga, the latter of which still to this day I can see reverberating around in my head (as I wrote briefly about here). The “back catalogue” so to speak — particularly his first “road” film, Alice in the Cities, was also very influential to me at the time. But then for some reason, the wheels fell off; blame it on Wings of Desire, which I could never “get”. They all seemed to get progressively more pretentious after that.

Maybe it’s nostalgia, but I’m keen to get re-in-touch with Wenders again.

UPDATE: Another Wenders’ event I’ve come across is a May 2nd “all-night” screening of three of Wenders’ films (Paris, Texas; Buena Vista Social Club; and Land of Plenty) at the Shin-bungeiza movie theater in Ikebukuro. According to the listing, Wenders will be there to introduce the film screening.

Hiroo Kikai’s “Persona”

If you’re in Tokyo then you really should try to catch the Hiroo Kikai photo exhibition of some of his “Persona” series, portraits taken over the last 10 years in Asakusa, showing at the Nikon Salon in Ginza (free, until March 11). I’m not usually a big fan of portraiture but this work has something. The photos are also accompanied by lovely, somewhat wry captions.

If you’re going to be in the area this week then you should also see the medecins sans frontieres photo exhibit Democratic Republic of Congo: The Forgotten War,featuring photos of Congo taken by 5 members of Project VII, including James Natchwey, Antonin Kratochvil, and Ron Haviv. This is at the Shinwa Art Museum (also free, until the 5th). Particularly striking were the color photos of an MSF run clinic for sex workers by Joachim Ladefoged, which somehow managed to straddle a dangerous line between the sensuousness of the color and tragicness of these womens’ situations.

UPDATE: Peter Evans tried to post the following comment but my comments were broken (my apologies):

I second your recommendation of Kikai’s show.

The longer I look, the more fascinating these photos become. This lady who started photography when close to 80 — and on whom an Olympus OM looks as big as a Pentax 67 would on me — appears in a different photo in the book _Ya-Chimata_. And she’s not alone: Kikai doesn’t simply recycle the photos he has already displayed, but digs up variants. That aside, these are photos that really benefit from size.

Kikai’s books have short print runs. (Just 5000 even for the new and very reasonably priced _Perusona_, I hear.) I guess people prefer to pay for and thumb through the prettily vapid (in color).

Peter also sent along this well-annotated Wikipedia entry on Kikai.