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Behind the Pink Curtain
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picture: Behind the Pink Curtain

Steamy, subversive, exotic and bizarre!

picture: pages from 'Behind the Pink Curtain'

Intro  |   Contents  |   Interview

Behind the Pink Curtain - The Complete History of Japanese Sex Cinema
The new book by Jasper Sharp

Behind the Pink Curtain takes the reader on a wild joy ride deep into the hinterlands of Japanese culture, society and radical politics by way of the weird and wonderful world of the Pink Film and Roman Porno genres.

In 416 lavishly illustrated pages, Behind the Pink Curtain focuses on the art and industry of one of the most notorious sectors of Japanese filmmaking, the erotic Pink Film, or pinku eiga genre, and the closely related Roman Porno films produced by Nikkatsu studios from 1971 to 1988. A phenomenon distinct from the cheaply-produced hardcore Adult Video (AV) market, from the early '60s onwards major Japanese film studios and independent producers alike have kept up a conveyor belt level of output of pornographic features intended purely for cinema release. Still today, just short of 100 such titles are shot on 35mm every year intended for screening in a specialist network of adult cinema across the nation. In recent years, many have found themselves released on DVD in the West or screened at international film festivals, while many of Japan's most noted filmmakers today have cut their teeth in this industry.

Just how close are the links between the arthouse and the grindhouse in Japan? Read about the ins and outs of Japanese censorship from the wartime onwards, and how topless deep sea diving girls came to woo local audiences in the '50s. Learn how a TV nature documentary maker ended up helming nude female Tarzan movies, and how '60s mavericks Koji Wakamatsu and Masao Adachi met up with John and Yoko at Cannes while on the way to the Golan Heights to make a film about Palestinian revolutionaries. How Deep Throat's Harry Reems wound up in Tokyo starring in a zany sex comedy about a penis transplant gone awry, and how one of Japan's most famous literary figures ended up the subject of the country's first gay porno movie. How one of Nikkatsu's leading directors went it alone to make a film about powerboat racing and ended up in the bad books of the yakuza, and how the anti-Bush sex farce Horny Home Tutor: Teacher's Love Juice came to be re-titled as The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai and became one of the most talked-about Japanese films of recent years, playing at over twenty international film festivals.

Based on extensive interviews with many of the leading figures in the field, Behind the Pink Curtain is a colourful and exhaustive trawl through Japan's most vibrant and prolific filmmaking sector.

About the author

Jasper Sharp is the co-editor of Midnight Eye and has curated for London's Raindance Film Festival and acted as an advisor for the Japan Foundation UK's annual touring season since 2005. His critically acclaimed book The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film, joint-written with Tom Mes, was published by Stone Bridge Press in 2003. His writing has appeared in numerous countries, including the USA, UK, France, Germany, Russia, Hong Kong and Holland. He contributes liner notes and audio commentaries to DVD releases of Japanese films worldwide, and has written chapters for several anthology collections including 24 Frames: Japan and Korea (ed. Justin Bowyer), Film Out of Bounds: Essays and Interviews on Non-Mainstream Cinema Worldwide (ed. Matthew Edwards), TokyoLife: Art and Culture (ed. Ian Luna) and Dictionnaire mondial des images (ed. Laurence Gervereau).

News and reviews

July 9 - 29, 2009 - Montreal's Fantasia Film Festival will be hosting a retrospective of pink and Roman Porno films curated by Jasper Sharp, who will be in attendance from 15-22 July.

July 2009 – Jouni Hokkanen reviews Behind the Pink Curtain in the Finnish magazine Bloody Ceremony, writing "This book is a must for everybody who is interested in the recent history and popular culture of Japan."

June 25 - 27, 2009 – Jasper Sharp will be signing copies of his book at the Cube Microplex in Bristol as part of Behind The Pink Curtain: An Introduction To The Japanese Sex Film, a series of screenings of some Pink Eiga classics.

June 2009 – Behind the Pink Curtain is "a raucous and fascinating picture of a still largely unknown cinema" writes Johannes Schonherr in the June issue of Kansai Time Out, while giving the lowdown on the region's pink theatres in an accompanying article cheekily titled 'Skin Peep'. "Sharp goes to great lengths to place the films in the social context of which they emerged, describing the relevant cultural/political background in vivid color and providing a look at the history of post-war Japan through the lens of porn... In short, Behind the Pink Curtain is easily the most authoritative work on pink cinema in the English language and will certainly remain the standard text on the subject for years to come."

June 2009 – Virginie Selavy writes in the June edition of the magazine Cineaste "Sharp's work represents an ambitious attempt to connect the dots, trace the evolution of pink film in a consistent way and provide a more complete picture in relation to its wider social and political, as well as filmic context....Behind the Pink Curtain is an engrossing read and a great addition to the meagre literature on pink film. Sharp is an engaging narrator and the book is full of piquant details... without doubt an essential addition to any film lover’s book collection."

May 6, 2009 – Jasper Sharp is interviewed about Behind the Pink Curtain by Ivan Denisov for the Russian website Cinematheque.

April 16 - 18, 2009 – Jasper Sharp is curating a program of pink films under the title Sexploitation and Experimentation: The Many Shades of Pink Film at the Deutches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt, as part of the Nippon Connection festival.

March, 2009 - Rodney Perkins provides an appraisal of the Behind the Pink Curtain Retrospective by Jasper Sharp and Marc Walkow at Fantastic Fest 2008 for Offscreen. "The range of films presented demonstrates that pinku eiga is more than just a form of erotic cinema. It is a platform for experimentation and free expression that can deal with a variety of topics in rare and interesting ways."

March 2009 - A glowing review on the EigaGoGo website (in French) by Martin Vieillot: "une riche iconographie illustre pertinemment le propos en proposant de nombreuses photos de films et de tournages, affiches et autres salles de cinéma dédiées".

March 26, 2009 - "Jasper Sharp provides an excellent introduction to pink films and to the Japanese sex film industry as a whole" writes Sarah Boslaugh on the PopMatters website. "The most thorough treatment this genre has received to date... valuable reference book as well as an excellent introduction to Japanese sex film in general and pink films in particular."

March 11, 2009 - "The book provides something more valuable than film-by-film reviews: context. It's the historicity of the thing that makes it invaluable to any fan of Japanese cinema" writes Eric Evans on Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow. "Sharp's humor is one of the book's charms... profusely illustrated, well designed, indexed and thoroughly annotated... Highly recommended."

March 11, 2009 - Leung Wing-Fai: "Sharp successfully narrates the social and cultural contexts for the development of Japanese soft porn. He also situates the pink industry alongside the mainstream and never loses sight of the parallel but intertwining larger film world in Japan and abroad."

September, 2008 - Some videos shot by Blake Etheridge of Jasper Sharp introducing a selection of pink films at Austin Fantastic Fest:

February 22, 2009 - Rob Schwartz writes in Metropolis "Jasper Sharp has penned a remarkably thorough, deeply researched and well-informed opus on Japanese sex cinema... Those interested in experimental culture or cutting-edge art will notice the connections to the larger Japanese avant-garde, as well as the transgressive nature of many of the films discussed. Sharp's probing research, momentous scholarship and dexterous prose make this a crucial work for anyone interested in contemporary Japanese society." Article reprinted online here.

February 8, 2009 - Mark Schilling gives Behind the Pink Curtain the thumbs up in the Japan Times, praising its “thoroughly researched, fluently written detail" and hailing it "a monumental work in a long-neglected field that no one will probably feel the need to expand on significantly for years, even decades. Behind the Pink Curtain is as close as a book comes to being a category killer."

January 11, 2009 - "A fascinating look at Japanese culture, society and radicalism through the prism of the sex film industry" writes Julian Ryall in an article entitled "Darker Shade of Pink" for the South China Post [reg required]. "Sharp’s exhaustive work will provide all the names, statistics and obscure details for those interested in pink cinema."

January 2009 - Reviewed in Shock Cinema no. 36: "The photos that fill this gorgeous, 416-page softcover are often lurid, but author Jasper Sharp delivers an intelligent, in-depth analysis of a genre that’s rarely covered by English-language publications... a dense, exhaustively-researched read... it’s an essential acquisition for any Japanese cinema connoisseur."

December 2008 - Calum Waddell at Impact magazine gives Behind the Pink Curtain the thumbs up: "You don't need to be familiar with any of these films to enjoy it... Highly recommended."

December 2008 - Spank the Monkey has a review of the BFI's Wild Japan season, tied in with "Jasper Sharp's copiously illustrated history of the Japanese sex film.""

December 4, 2008 - Article by Sharp for the Japan Times, published to coincide with the BFI's Wild Japan season.

December 2008 - The Wild Japan season, the erotic art of cult and classic Japanese cinema, at the BFI Southbank, London, before going on to tour other venues across the UK.

December 2008 - Sight & Sound Book of the Month. Alex Jacoby says "Sharp narrates the story of Pink ably. His writing has shaken off the occasional breathlessness visible in The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film, while retaining its customary zest and wit... This history is impressive for its scope and meticulous research. It is likely to remain the definitive word in English on its subject."

November 2008 - Jasper Sharp is interviewed by Mad Dog magazine.

November 20, 2008 - Jasper Sharp is interviewed by Chris MaGee on the Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow, who boldly states "With the release of Behind the Pink Curtain from Britain's FAB Press, I truly believe that Sharp has cemented his reputation as one of the most important Japanese film critics and historians working today."

September 16, 2008 - Twitch has the first review online.

Intro  |   Contents  |   Interview

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