Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Contest: "Tatsumi" @ TIFF

Contest: Tatsumi @ TIFF

Eric Khoo's Tatsumi, which had its local premiere at last year's Reel Asian festival, is returning for a short run at the TIFF Lightbox, January 25-29, 2013. It's specifically recommended to anyone with an interest in manga, documentary, post-war Japanese culture or, well, grimness — but taking the wider view, anyone who wants to be introduced to a master storyteller would do well to check this out. In my original review (read the whole thing here), I said:

This animated biopic recounts the life and times of Japan's Yoshihiro Tatsumi, who was at the forefront of transforming manga from simple kid-centric comics to an artform with both a cinematic visual sweep and a psychological depth to appeal to adult readers. Tatsumi has recalled the story of what he prefers to be labelled "gekiga" in his sprawling autobiography A Drifting Life, which gets bogged down in places with minutiae surrounding Japan's comic-book publishing industry in the 50's and 60's. Although a little unfocused at first (the film launches with Tatsumi's homage to his mentor, manga legend Osamu Tezuka without providing any context), this does an admirable job of winnowing out the extraneous material to get to the heart of the story.

Ultimately, the film's aim to is weave together three mutually-supportive strands: some contextual history about life in postwar Japan, Tatsumi's biography and a selection of his stories. It's that final element that really elevates the film, bringing Tatsumi's clean lines to life in a way that respects his visual style while reflecting and amplifying the historical and biographical themes — and expressing the melancholic despair that underlies them all. Thus "Hell" gives a sense of some of the broader post-Hiroshima political feelings while "Occupied" tells the tale of a struggling manga artist. And toward the end, "Good Bye"'s tale of a superannuated office worker nearing retirement reflects on Tatsumi's own feelings of mortality.

Thinking back on it a few months after the fact, I can definitely say that the animated versions of Tatsumi's stories stuck with me. We're lucky to live in a city where movies like this re-appear after festival screenings, and hopefully word will get out to those diverse groups listed above to see this.


Thanks to the good folks at TIFF, I have two pairs of tickets to give away, good for the screening of your choice.

To enter, shoot me an email (to with "Tatsumi" in the title and your name in the body. I'll draw two winners on Wednesday, January 23rd.

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