Light Industry: Onishi Kenji's A Burning Star
Tuesday, July 13, 2010 , 19:30, 7$
177 Livingston Street, Brooklyn, NY, USA
- A Burning Star (Onishi Kenji, 16mm, 1995, 95 mins)
One of the most notorious yet unseen works of Japanese experimental cinema, Onishi Kenji’s A Burning Star operates with an emotional and physical intimacy reminiscent of both the confrontational style of Hara Kazuo and the radically subjective camerawork of Stan Brakhage. Made when Onishi was in his early 20s, the film documents his father’s funeral and cremation through subtle Super-8 lensing and a rigorous sense of real-time. At the funeral site, Onishi undresses and manipulates the corpse, scrutinizing it with his camera, then later records the act of cremation through the furnace’s portholes. This last sequence is the morbidly compelling heart of the film, presenting unearthly images reminiscent of an alien planet's gaseous surface, with flames licking over quasi-organic landscapes that look increasingly less like a skull, a ribcage or a hip bone.
Of A Burning Star, Onishi writes, “my inner conflicts find a cruel form." By fixing with unsettling intensity on his subject, but only briefly focusing on himself, Onishi evacuates his own emotions from the event’s depiction. Instead, he creates a film that speaks through its relentless examination of mute objects—what remains of his father—by capturing the very moments of their inexorable disappearance.