Satoshi Kon: Beyond Imagination, June 27 – July 1

Animator joins the Film Society onstage for complete mid-career retrospective

NEW YORK, May 30, 2008––The Film Society of Lincoln Center will welcome Satoshi Kon to the stage at the Walter Reade Theater during Satoshi Kon: Beyond Imagination, a complete retrospective of the acclaimed director and animator's work, June 27 – July 1. The series will highlight all four of Kon's feature films, as well as the animator's cult-favorite television series Paranoia Agent, presented on the big-screen in its entirety. Kon will join in an onstage conversation with Film Society program director Richard Peña following a screening of his most recent film, Paprika, at the Walter Reade Theater on Friday, June 27, at 6:15 p.m.

Widely known for his spectacular visual inventions and a consistent blending—if not total destruction—of the lines between dream, hallucination and reality, Kon first made his mark on the anime scene in 1998 with Perfect Blue. The unsettling, psychological thriller loosely based on a novel by Yoshikazu Takeuchi was a unique take on the animation form, following a pop music star who agrees to remake her image and is then stalked by both external threats and internal demons. The film, often described as “Hitchcock does anime,” won Kon both international recognition and the opportunity to expand his range.

“Satoshi Kon has emerged as one of the world's most remarkable cinematic talents,” says Peña. His films “develop a contextual fluidity that allows people and things to inhabitant several different planes of meaning at the same time. The visual style is deceptively simple; it's only over the course of a film that its depths, layers and traps are revealed.”

Kon's follow-up projects, many made through the innovative animation company Madhouse, both augmented and diverged from the themes of identity and representation he developed in his debut. Millennium Actress is a boldly imagined anthology of Japanese cinema. Tokyo Godfathers, a contemporary social melodrama that remakes John Ford's Three Godfathers while re-imagining John Wayne as a transvestite. And 2006's Paprika, a dreamlike meditation on the fragmentation of Japanese life, screened at the New York Film Festival and was nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

The Film Society's retrospective also offers New Yorkers the rare opportunity to see Kon's acclaimed 2004 television series Paranoia Agent on the big-screen. The 13-episode series captures a varied set of seemingly unrelated characters in modern-day Japan, each of whom is attacked by a young boy wielding a golden baseball bat. A sharp questioning of reality against the story created by media, technology, film and the Internet, Paranoia Agent is “the clearest, fullest expression of the Kon-ian Universe yet realized,” says Peña.

Additionally, to coincide with the series, the Film Society's Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery will host a special exhibition of the animator's artwork for and alongside his films, June 27 – July 15. Kon recently presented a 12-day exhibit of his works in Tokyo, drawing 2,000 fans internationally. The Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery is adjacent to the Walter Reade Theater. It is open daily 1:30 to 6:00 p.m.

Satoshi Kon, born in Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan, in 1963, studied at the Musashino College of the Arts and worked with noted artist and director Katsuhiro Ôtomo as both a manga illustrator and, later, key art animator on Ôtomo's 1991 science fiction comedy Rôjin Z. Four years later, Kon wrote the “Magnetic Rose” segment of the omnibus animated feature Memories. A story of astronauts who become trapped within ghostly reenactments of the life of an entombed opera singer, the script—and its more literally translated title, “Her Memories”—“succinctly summarizes the entirety of Kon's oeuvre,” wrote author and Japanese film scholar Tom Mes in Film Comment in 2007. “Memories, like dreams, become directly accessible environments for his protagonists to explore and get lost and found in.”

Satoshi Kon: Beyond Imagination was organized by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and programmed by Richard Peña. Special thanks to Taro Morishima and Madhouse for their help in arranging this series. Generous support has been provided by the Japan Foundation and ANA All Nippon Airways.

Admission for the June 27 screening including the conversation with Satoshi Kon is $15; $12 for Film Society members and students. Tickets for all other Satoshi Kon: Beyond Imagination screenings are $11; $7 for Film Society members, students and children (6-12, accompanied by an adult); and $8 for seniors (62+). They are available at both the Walter Reade Theater box office and online at A series pass admitting one person to a total of five titles in the series can be purchased at the Walter Reade Theater box office (cash only) for $40; $30 for Film Society members.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center was founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international cinema, to recognize and support new directors, and to enhance the awareness, accessibility and understanding of film. Advancing this mandate today, the Film Society hosts two distinguished festivals. The New York Film Festival annually premieres films from around the world and has introduced the likes of François Truffaut, R.W. Fassbinder, Jean-Luc Godard, Pedro Almodóvar, Martin Scorsese, and Wong Kar-Wai to the United States. New Directors/New Films, co-presented by the Museum of Modern Art, focuses on emerging film talents. Since 1972, when the Film Society honored Charles Chaplin in person, the annual Gala Tribute celebrates an actor or filmmaker who has helped distinguish cinema as an art form. Additionally, the Film Society presents a year-round calendar of programming at its Walter Reade Theater and offers insightful film writing to a worldwide audience through Film Comment magazine.

Please note: Due to construction work taking place around Lincoln Center, access to the Walter Reade Theater is at 165 West 65th Street close to Amsterdam Avenue. Once there, take the escalator, elevator or stairs to the upper level.
Prepared by Arthur Ryel-Lindsey

Jeanne R. Berney, (212) 875-5416, [email protected]
Gabriele Caroti, (212) 875-5625, [email protected]

Satoshi Kon: Beyond Imagination
Schedule at a Glance (Detailed Program Information Follows)

Friday, June 27
2:30 pm Perfect Blue, 80m
4:15 pm Millennium Actress, 87m
6:15 pm Paprika, 89m, followed by A Conversation with Satoshi Kon

Saturday, June 28
2:30 pm Tokyo Godfathers, 92m
4:30 pm Perfect Blue
6:15 pm Millennium Actress
8:15 pm Paranoia Agent, Part One (Chapters 1-7), 175m

Sunday, June 29
1:00 pm Paranoia Agent, Part One
4:15 pm Paranoia Agent, Part Two (Chapters 8-13), 150m
7:15 pm Tokyo Godfathers
9:15 pm Perfect Blue

Monday, June 30
2:00 pm Tokyo Godfathers
4:00 pm Paprika

Tuesday, July 1
2:30 pm Paprika
4:20 pm Millennium Actress
6:15 pm Paranoia Agent, Part Two
9:10 pm Paprika

Satoshi Kon: Beyond Imagination
Detailed Program and Schedule Information

Millennium Actress / Sennen joyû
Satoshi Kon, Japan/South Korea, 2001; 87m
Winner of several international awards, Millennium Actress established director Satoshi Kon (who co-wrote the screenplay with Sadayuki Murai) as one of the most thrilling cinematic storytellers of our time. Video documentarian Genya Tachibana sets off with his cameraman Junichi to record an interview with a living legend of cinema, the reclusive Chiyoko Fujiwara, once Japan's most famous actress. As she opens up about her life—recounting when, as a girl, she helped an anti-government artist escape the military draft—her career is revealed to be a sustained effort to re-unite with this one true love. Meanwhile, Genya and Junichi are transformed from recorders to participants in Chiyuko's life and films—which range from Ozu to Godzilla—as the lines between the tale being told, those that have been told in the movies, and those which should have been told blur. An extraordinary tribute to both the history of Japanese cinema and the power of love.
Fri Jun 27: 4:15pm
Sat Jun 28: 6:15pm
Tue Jul 1: 4:20pm

Satoshi Kon, Japan, 2006; 89m
No other filmmaker tackles the anxiety and fragmentation of contemporary Japanese life with more wit and sophistication than Satoshi Kon. His most recent film, Paprika, “plays like a head-on collision between Hello Kitty and Philip K. Dick. The plot starts with a machine, the DC-Mini, that lets therapists enter patients' dreams. When it's stolen, all hell breaks loose, and only a woman nicknamed Paprika seems able to stop it. Kon is a brilliant director by any standard, and as the characters shuttle from dream to dream, nightmare to nightmare, Paprika becomes a thrilling tour-de-force of visual invention—every frame is packed with imagination. This delightful movie is bursting with ideas about Japanese repression, multiple identities, collective dreams and the dark side of the country's love of Cute.”—New York Film Festival 2006.
Fri Jun 27: 6:15pm*
Encore Screenings:
Mon Jun 30: 4:00pm
Tue Jul 1: 2:30pm and 9:10pm

*A Conversation with Satoshi Kon. The acclaimed Japanese writer/director will join us for a conversation and onscreen highlights of his work following the screening of Paprika on Friday, June 27, at 6:15 pm. Admission for this June 27 screening is $12 member/student; $15 public. Encore screenings of Paprika are regular price.

Paranoia Agent / Môsô dairinin
Satoshi Kon, Japan, 2004
This 13-chapter TV mini-series is the clearest, fullest expression of the Kon-ian Universe yet realized. It marked Kon's first collaboration with the innovative animation company Madhouse, and the result was a sensation in Japan—and a cult item just about everywhere else.
Tsukiko Sagi, a successful toy designer, labors to invent a new creature that will be loved (and purchased) by millions of kids. Ichi—top student, star athlete, and Boy Most Likely to Succeed—worries that his privileged position is being challenged by a nerdy new transfer student. Victim of a multiple personality disorder, sober-minded Harumi Chono is trying to keep her sensuous alter ego Maria under wraps and out of sight. The characters are seemingly unrelated—until each is attacked by a young boy wearing in-line skates and wielding a golden baseball bat. Dubbed Lil' Slugger by the tabloid press, this mysterious assailant is thought by some to be an urban legend, by others to be a decoy for the real culprit. For detectives Keiichi Ikari and Mitsuhiro Maniwa, he's an increasing headache as pressure mounts to arrest somebody, anybody, before the city explodes.
Part One: Chapters 1-7; 175m DVD
Sat Jun 28: 8:15pm
Sun Jun 29: 1:00pm
Part Two: Chapters 8-13; 150m DVD
Sun Jun 29: 4:15pm
Tue Jul 1: 6:15pm

Perfect Blue
Satoshi Kon, Japan, 1998; 80m
Pop singer Mima Kirigoe leaves her girl group at the urging of her agent to take a stab at a career in acting, beginning with a part on the psycho-thriller TV series Double Blind. The show's writer devises a scheme to change the public perception of Mima, but the new persona doesn't sit well with at least one loyal fan, who seems bent on bringing back the old Mima by any means necessary.
For his first film as a director, Satoshi Kon avoided the usual fantasy or science fiction plots that make up so much of Japanese anime, opting instead to create a modern-day thriller with clear overtones of Hitchcock. The animation style, at first simple and straightforward, gradually reveals hidden depths and deceptions. The growing confusion between Mima's own life, her role on Double Blind and her existence on a fan's blog introduces the idea of identity as commodity, a theme that Kon continued to explore in his later films.
Fri Jun 27: 2:30pm
Sat Jun 28: 4:30pm
Sun Jun 29: 9:15pm

Tokyo Godfathers
Satoshi Kon & Shôgo Furuya, Japan, 2003; 92m
Never content to merely repeat his successes, Satoshi Kon ventured into yet another entirely new direction for his third film, Tokyo Godfathers. This darkly comic melodrama captures three homeless drifters huddling together on a cold, icy Christmas night. Miyuki, a young girl, ran away from home after arguing with her father. Gin, a middle-aged alcoholic, lost his family after gambling away his savings. Their supposed leader is Hana, a no-nonsense transvestite who has just never fit in anywhere. As the three amble towards their makeshift cardboard hut, they discover an abandoned baby girl. This unlikely trio must decide what they should do—especially when it seems that a gang of yakuza are looking for the child. Clearly a tip of the hat to John Ford's Three Godfathers, in which three cowpokes led by John Wayne (here re-imagined as a transvestite) rescue a baby, Tokyo Godfathers presents astonishingly rich, well-developed characters whose back stories become more resonant as the group faces further dangers and challenges. Kon and co-screenwriter Keiko Nobuwata have created a new Christmas Carol for our times.
Sat Jun 28: 2:30pm
Sun Jun 29: 7:15pm
Mon Jun 30: 2:00pm

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