• Directory of Taiwan

Japan festival screens uncensored sex films

Showing erotic movies seen as freedom of speech

Japan festival screens uncensored sex films

A rare festival of uncensored sexual films is screening in Tokyo this week in the latest bid by a Japanese distributor to test the country's restrictions on showing nudity.
Pornography is widely available in Japan for personal use, but bans are imposed on images of genitalia either being imported or being displayed in public places such as cinemas.
The "Extreme Love" festival, which opened Monday and runs until March 2, is the brainchild of Takashi Asai, head of the Uplink distribution firm who has long battled with censorship.
Just last week, Japan's Supreme Court handed him a significant victory by lifting a ban by customs officers who confiscated his personal copy of a book from late US photographer Robert Mapplethorpe that depicted male genitals.
"It's a pure coincidence that this cinema festival is coming several days after the ruling," said Asai, whose company, which was started in 1987, publishes artbooks and distributes films and documentaries.
"The constitution defends freedom of expression, so anyone should be able to look at erotic or pornographic pictures. But police understand this differently," he told Agence France-Presse.
The "Extreme Love" festival was put together with the support of the French embassy's cultural service, which said it was promoting two works being shown by French filmmaker Philippe Grandrieux.
The festival is also screening uncut versions of two French films that were previously censored when shown in Japan - "Baise-Moi" ("Fuck Me") by Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi and "Une Vraie Jeune Fille" ("A Real Young Girl") by Catherine Breillat.
Promoting cinema
The festival opened without hindrance, even though the same films would typically only be shown in Japan with footage of genitalia pixelated.
The four feature films and 24 short works at the festival feature graphic nudity including scenes of masturbation and sexual acts.
"Thank you France for having taken part in promoting cinema in Japan," Asai said. "France enjoys a freedom when it comes to eroticism that I very much appreciate."
"In cinema, we're still not free in Japan," he said. "It's a pity."
In one of the most famous cases of censorship, Japan edited parts of director Nagisa Oshima's acclaimed 1976 work "In the Realm of the Senses."
The film relates the case of Sada Abe, who became a celebrity in Japan in the 1930s for cutting off her partner's penis and carrying it in her handbag.
Asai said the restrictions on portrayal of genitals showed that Japan "is not an adult society."

Updated : 2021-08-01 18:55 GMT+08:00