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London Barbican Osamu Tezuka Season

Date: 2008 July 17 15:37

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We've received some exciting news from the London Barbican about a special Osamu Tezuka Season they'll be running from Thursday 18th to Wednesday 24th of September 2008.

The season is curated by anime expert Helen McCarthy (who's written tons of good books and articles on anime and manga). The line is up a great showcase of Tezuka's work, with The Film Is Alive: Osamu Tezuka Filmography looking especially interesting, as it we're certain Helen will bring an informative take on the panel with the event.

Osamu Tezuka is the granddaddy of anime and manga, without doubt the most influential and inspiration artist, as always with these events we suggest you book early to avoid disappointment.

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Press release as follows:

barbican film
Thursday 18 to Wednesday 24 September
Cinema Hotline: 0845 120 7527

One of Japan's most influential animators, Osamu Tezuka revolutionised the comic and cartoon industries, having created hundreds of comics and dozens of films and television series during his extensive career. Remaining a major influence on Japanese popular culture to this day, Tezuka's creations include Astro Boy and Jungle Emperor Leo.

Barbican Film marks the 80th anniversary of the birth of Tezuka with a major season of feature films, short films and television episodes curated by Helen McCarthy, many of which will be screening in the UK for the first time. Alongside this, Barbican Film is also delighted to present anexhibition of Tezuka's drawings which, combined with his stunning cinematic offerings, celebrate the work which has inspired generations of successors and earned Tezuka the title "God of Manga".

Thursday 18 September
7.30pm - Short Film Showcase (PG*)
A remarkable showcase of shorts made between 1962 and 1987, revealing Tezuka's energy, originality and clarity of vision as he employs music and imagery to render dialogue unnecessary. These films show Tezuka the art house animator at his inventive best.

Tales of the Street Corner (Aru Machikado no Monogatari) (1962 38 min)
The first film from Tezuka's Mushi Productions. Drawing apparently unrelated elements towards a single tragic climax, Tales of the Street Corner is profoundly anti-war.

Mermaid (NIngyo) (1964 9 min)
Troubled by increasing conformity imposed by Japanese society, Tezuka examines the power of dreams and the consequences of betraying them.

Drop (Shizizu) (1965 4 min)
In this highly personal film, even the simple backgrounds are drawn by Tezuka. A thirsty man on a raft tries desperately (and fruitlessly) to get a precious drop of water.

Pictures at an Exhibition (Tenrankei no E) (1966 39 min) Opening with a literal, live-action walk into a gallery, Mussorgsky's music becomes a jumping-off point for a series of ten visually distinct and stylish segments.

Jumping (1984 6 min)
One of the most technically dazzling achievements of its day, shot in a single cut with 4,000 images showing a skipping boy gradually striding higher and higher until he leaps across war torn countries, looking down on human activity like a god.

Broken Down Film (Onboro Film) (1985 6 min)
A heroic cowboy fights not only a conventional villain but also a film so old that it breaks down. Tezuka's affection for the conventions of silent film fills every frame.

Push (1987 4 min)
In a world where every necessity can be had from vending machines, a man goes to see his creator and demands to be shown where to buy a brand new Earth.

Muramasa (1987 9 min)
A magic sword is found stuck into a straw figure. The samurai who finds it keeps cutting at more straw figures to test its sharpness; but every time he slashes one apart, it turns into a human being.

Friday 19 September
5.45pm - Tezuka on the Telly 1 (PG*)
A programme featuring the first episodes in each series of Tezuka's television works: Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom) Tezuka's first black and white TV series, later remade in colour as Astro Boy: The New Adventures (Shin Tetsuwan Atom), along with Kimba, the story of a white lion cub claiming his heritage.

Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom) (1963 24 min)
Tezuka's first TV series, designed for fast, low-cost production, enjoyed success in Japan and America. The tale of a childlike robot whose good heart far exceeds his super-powered armaments supported stories so dark that some had to be modified for American release.

Astro Boy: The New Adventures (Shin Tetsuwan Atom) (1980 25 min)
Almost 20 years on, Tezuka remade Atom in colour. Despite more expensive animation, some critics feel this version has less powerful pacing than the original, but Tezuka felt able to include some of the manga's more philosophical elements, originally left out in favour of superheroics.

Kimba the White Lion (Jungle Taitei/Jungle Emperor) (1965 23 min)
The story of a white lion cub claiming his heritage, Kimba was the first animated colour TV series made in Japan, and proved so powerful that twenty years later Americans seeing Disney's hit movie The Lion King recalled the white lion from their childhood viewing.

Friday 19 September
7.30pm - Marine Express (Kaitei Chotokkyuu Marine Express/Undersea Supertrain Marine Express) (12A*) (1979 Dir. Dezaki Tetsu 91 min) plus
introduction by Mr Yoshihiro Shimizu
Set in the near future of 2002, the tale of skullduggery and smuggling on an undersea train is set against a backdrop of environmental degradation and destruction of indigenous cultures, and interwoven with a time-travel fantasy. Barbican Film is delighted that Mr Yoshihiro Shimizu, General Manager of Tezuka Productions, will speak about the relation between Story Manga and TV animation in the works of Osamu Tezuka before the screening.

Saturday 20 September
11.00am - Family Film Club: Jungle Emperor Leo (Jungle Taitei/Jungle Emperor) (PG*) (1997 Dir. Takeo Takeuchi 99 min Dubbed)
The most recent movie based on Tezuka's 1950 manga returns to his original ending, darker and more reflective than the version for American TV. Leo is king of the jungle, and a father, but he is still striving to live in harmony with the world. Humans driven only by profit invade his fragile kingdom, bringing infection, destruction and death. Can Leo's nobility and heroism transcend their greed and save the jungle?

Saturday 20 September
1.15pm - Childrens' Programme: Astro Boy: The Brave In Space (Tetsuwan Atom: Uchuu no Yuusha) (PG*) (1964 Dir. Atsushi Takagi, Eiichi Yamamoto & Shigeyuki Hayashi 87 min) ^
Three episodes of the original black and white Astro Boy TV series were re-edited into this colour movie, packed with action and quirky design. It's easy to see why Walt Disney expressed admiration for Astro Boy when he met Tezuka at the 1964 World Fair.

Osamu and Musashi (PG*) (2005 Dir. Rintaro 18 min) ^
A charming fantasy based on Tezuka's accounts of his childhood, showing him learning how to deal with life through his fascination with and respect for the natural world, especially the insects from which he took his pen name.

Saturday 20 September
3.45pm - The Film Is Alive: Osamu Tezuka Filmography 1962-1989 (PG*) (1990 42 min)
A documentary made for the Tezuka Osamu Exhibition at the Tokyo National Museum the year after Tezuka's death, this film boasts probably the most over specified title card in the world. Each of the ten letters has been handwritten by one of his friends, all superstars of the manga and anime community. It provides a thumbnail introduction to his work and records its diversity and energy, as well as featuring live footage of Tezuka himself.

Panel discussion: Being Osamu Tezuka
Season curator Helen McCarthy discusses Tezuka's work with a panel of experts.

Legend of the Forest (Mori no Densetsu) (PG*) (1988 Dir. Osamu Tezuka & Kouji Ui 30 min)
Set to Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, Tezuka planned to review the history of animation in four episodes, though only two segments were completed. Animals and fantasy creatures warn humans about the danger of destroying natural habitats, while Tezuka warns of cheap, limited TV animation decimating the art's rich heritage.

Saturday 20 September
6.00pm - Phoenix 2772/Space Firebird (Hi no Tori 2772: Ai no Cosmozone) (PG)
(1980 Dir. Suguru Sugiyama 122 min)
Tezuka's tale of the transformations required to be truly free and truly human, set against a panoramic science fiction backdrop. Also featuring robot heroine Olga, one of the most enchanting and covetable boys' toys ever created. With input from friends including SF writer Sakyo Komatsu and translator Frederik L. Schodt, Tezuka created a blend of action, Disneyesque whimsy and Buddhist philosophy that won two US awards on release and remains thoroughly enjoyable.

Saturday 20 September
8.30pm - The Phoenix: Chapter of Dawn (Hi no Tori: Reimei Hen) (PG) 1978 Dir. Kon Ichikawa 138 min)
Tezuka's original re-imagining of Japan's legendary prehistory is the basis for Kon Ichikawa's film. One of Japan's most respected directors, Ichikawa aims to bring narrative coherence to Tezuka's mythos at the same time as satirising samurai movies. Animated inserts enrich live-action in this diverse and intriguing film. Look out for Astro Boy's cameo.

Sunday 21 September
12.00pm - Jungle Emperor Leo (PG*) (1966 Dir. Eiichi Yamamoto 75min) ^
Tezuka felt this film was a more accurate expression of the themes of his manga than the TV series that preceded it. Only two minutes of TV footage was used in this version, which won the Silver Lion award at the 1967 Venice International Film festival.

Sunday 21 September
1.45pm - Fantastic Adventures of Unico 1 (Unico) (PG) (1981 Dir. Toshio Hirata 90 min Dubbed)
Based on a manga Tezuka created for Sanrio's Ririka magazine, this is the story of a little unicorn who is born with the power to make anyone he meets happy. The jealous gods condemn him to wander endlessly, with no home and no memories, but Unico's cheerfulness and kindness provide lessons in living in the moment in this heartrending but uplifting fable.

Sunday 21 September
3.45pm - The Lion Books (12A)
The Lion Books contain Tezuka's short sci-fi and suspense manga, providing scope to develop themes that would not fit his longer works as well as acting as a kind of notebook to mine for other ideas. In 1983 he decided to try animating them as 26 stand-alone episodes, from which comes this selection:

Akuemon (1993 Dir. Macoto Tezuka 25 min)
The otherworldly beauty who marries a human is a mythic staple, so Tezuka gave it a poignant twist by marrying the fox spirit to a foxhunter, and watching love grow between them as he kills her people.

Adachigahara (1991 Dir. Hisashi Sakaguchi 25 min)
A freedom fighter is captured by the dictator he seeks to bring down and sent to a prison planet where a strange old woman teaches him the true meaning of love.

The Green Cat (Midori na Neko) (1983 Dir. Osamu Tezuka 24 min)
The first Lion Books story to be animated, in which an alien plots to conquer mankind through its vices and invade by stealth.

Lunn Flies Into The Wind (Lun wa Kaze no Naka) (1985 Dir. Osamu Tezuka 24 min)
Teenager Akira sees a girl on a poster and falls in love. With the confidence of adolescence, he sets out to track her down.

Rain Boy (1983 Dir. Osamu Tezuka 24 min)
A young boy makes a promise to a ghost in exchange for three wishes, but grows up to forget his promise until one day he happens to remember the Rain Boy.

Sunday 21 September
6.30pm - Tezuka On The Telly 2
More first episodes from Tezuka's later work for television.

Princess Knight (Ribon no Kishi/Knight of the Ribbon) (PG*) (1967 Osamu Tezuka & Sadao Tsukioka 23 min)
Tezuka's previous success fuelled a TV anime boom, so he created a pioneering manga for girls. Sapphire, with a boy's courage and daring in a gentle female heart, was hugely popular and the first in a long line of anime heroines who can easily beat the boys, but still want to join them.

Vampire (PG*) (1968 Dir. Ken Yamada & Kikuchi 22 min)
Toppei passes for human well enough to get work at Tezuka's studio, but is really one of a tribe of shapeshifters facing discrimination and hardship. Mixing animation, live action and Shakespearean plot elements, featuring the author as himself.

Marvellous Melmo (Fushigina Melmo) (PG*) (1971 Dir. Osamu Tezuka 23min)
Melmo and her two little brothers lose their mother in a road accident. Determined to help her children grow up in a harsh world, the spirit of her mother returns to give Melmo a gift ­ candies that make the eater older or younger.

The Three-Eyed One (Mitsumi ga Toru) (PG*) (1990 Dir. Hideki Hiroshima 25 min)
The first work based on Tezuka's manga to be planned after his death, this was bound to attract intense scrutiny. Tezuka's original story is diluted but nevertheless the mystical elements are well used and the on-off romance has its own charm.

Sunday 21 September
8.30pm - 1001 Nights (Senya Ichiya Monogatari) (18*) (1969 Dir. Eiichi Yamamoto 128 min)
Animal transformations, confused relationships and sheer rapacious sexuality merge with a heady eroticism in Mushi Productions' first specifically adult-oriented feature. Tezuka's story keeps faith with the mood and themes of the original legends, Yamamoto mixes styles like a DJ drunk on the sheer fun of it.

Monday 22 September
11.00am ­ Schools Screening: Tezuka on the Telly 1 (PG*)
(See Friday 19 September)

Monday 22 September
6.00pm - Prime Rose (Time Slip 10000-nen Prime Rose) (12A) (Japan 1983 Dir. Tetsu Dezaki 90 min)
A Japanese city and an American city are thrown into conflict by demonic intervention. Prime Rose is one of the warriors, but she has a personal motive. Time Patrol member Gai is trying to reverse the timeslip and defeat the demon. Aired before the manga of the same title was completed, this story is allegedly closer to Tezuka's original idea.

Monday 22 September
8.00pm - Baggy (aka Bagi, The Monster of Mighty Nature) (12A) (1984 Dir. Osamu Tezuka 90 min)
In 1984 the Japanese government approved gene recombination experiments. Baggy (after Bagheera, the panther in the Jungle Book) is Tezuka's response. A cute kitten escapes a lab, and is befriended by lonely child Ryosuke. Years later, he joins her in a quest that's part spaghetti Western, part contemporary adventure.

Tuesday 23 September
11.00am - Schools Screening: Baggy (aka Bagi, The Monster of Mighty Nature) (12A)
(See above)

Tuesday 23 September
6.00pm - Kamishibai theatre: Tezuka Osamu (Two stories introduced by Helen McCarthy and Paul Gravett. With soft titles. Location: Garden Room).
A live performance from artist Mr Yasuno of two stories including a Kamishibai based on episodes from Tezuka's life. Kamishibai (paper-theatre) evolved in Japan in the late 1920s from a long tradition of picture storytelling, performed on street corners. The form became so popular that television was initially referred to in Japan as denki kamishibai, or "electric kamishiba". As its popularity declined, Kamishibai artists turned to manga and Mr Yasuno's recreation offers audiences a rare opportunity to witness this street performance whose influence lives on in modern anime.

Wednesday 24 September
8.30pm - Cleopatra (aka Cleopatra Queen of Sex) (18*) (1970 Dir. Osamu Tezuka & Eiichi Yamamoto 112 min)
Mushi's second adult film is a summary of the visual, satirical and political tropes of the 50s and 60s, with hallucinogenic colour schemes and highly stylised animation. Tezuka can never resist comic asides at dramatic moments, and he emphasises the absurdity of sex alongside its risks and rewards in this experiment in time travel.

1. Screenings are in Japanese with English subtitles unless otherwise
2. ^ Subtitles will be simultaneously interpreted; headphones are available for pre-booking for those who wish to hear the original Japanese dialogue.
3. With thanks to Tezuka Productions.
4. Part of JAPAN-UK 150
5. Supported by The Japan Foundation, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation.

Ticket Prices:
Standard: £8.50 / £6.00 members and concessions / £4.50 Children (Under 15)
Special offer: Book for 3 or more programmes and each ticket is just £6.

Family Film Club screening: FFC Members: £3.50 in advance / £4.00 on the door / Non Members: £5.50

Anyone booking for 3 shows at the same time gets the tickets for £6 instead of £8.50, anyone booking for 7 or more at the same time will get them for £5 each. So anyone intending to come to most of the showings can still save over a third on the normal ticket prices, almost £25 on 7 tickets.

Source: Barbican
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