Golden Week is traditionally a time for movie studios to roll out the blockbusters, but if popcorn fodder like “Chihayafuru” and “Captain America: Civil War” don’t appeal, there are more esoteric options.
Viewers of a curious disposition should investigate the Image Forum Festival, which runs at the eponymous cinema and film school in Tokyo’s Shibuya district this week before embarking on a cross-country tour. Marking its 30th anniversary, the event is a reliable bastion of weirdness in an increasingly homogenous movie market. Though its program — a dense assortment of experimental film and animation, new and old — can appear forbidding to first-timers, you won’t need a Ph.D. in film studies to appreciate what’s on offer.
Highlights this year include Guillaume Nicloux’s “The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq,” in which the controversial French novelist stars as himself, and the late Mike Kelley’s lysergic masterpiece, “Day is Done.”
The main competition section showcases new work by Japanese filmmakers including Shinjiro Maeda and Yoshinao Satoh, whose animation “Finder” is created entirely from PC screenshots. Meanwhile, newcomers who are curious about what they’ve missed can catch up on highlights from the festival’s previous three decades in the “Unique Encounters” section — a snip at just ¥600 per screening.
Image Forum Festival in Tokyo runs from April 29 to May 6. Individual screenings cost ¥1,200. The festival then moves to Kyoto, Fukuoka, Nagoya and Yokohama. For details, visit imageforumfestival.com.
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