Sanguivorous Live Performance at the Smithsonian

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On April 4/3/2013, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a live screening of silent vampire film, Sanguivorous at the Meyer Auditorium located in the Freer Gallery. Courtesy of friend of the site, Tetsuki Ijichi of Tidepoint pictures, I was treated to a one of a kind experience as the film was presented with live jazz accompaniment with saxophone player Edward Wilkerson Jr. and percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani.

As the film has already been reviewed on the site, and I don’t want to step on that reviewer’s toes; here are my general feelings on the presentation. Filled with stark and visceral imagery, the film is highly reminiscent of 1930’s horror, particularly from Germany. Owing quite a lot to that era’s use of perspective and lighting, director Naoki Yoshimoto crafts a somewhat confusing but guttural and brave film chronicling a woman’s descent into madness or transformation to a monster. A very high concept film, I would certainly not say that the film is not for a general audience, for a more adventurous filmgoer. As I have not seen the theatrical version yet, I cannot comment on that version, but there is definitely a lot of symbolism in the images and I found myself rewinding scenes mentally for the rest of that evening. It is a film that requires active participation on the part of the viewer and is unapologetic in its breadth.

The live music was an amazing part of the evening. Both accomplished musicians used their traditional instruments, but also a toolbox’s worth of re-purposed and alternative materials to create unique sounds to go with the startling images onscreen. Almost like a live foley session, it was performance art. It was a wholly unique experience and an event I truly recommend taking part in should it come to your area.

This is the type of cinema/event that most people will never see or experience. I applaud Tidepoint Pictures and distributor Tetsuki Ijichi for taking the risk to distribute this film and others like it. Their selection and choices of film to expose to a wider audience are commendable and truly demonstrate a love of cinema.

About Author

Long time film lover and occasional writer. I watch anything and everything though I have massive love for the works of Shunji Iwai, Jackie Chan, Johnnie To, and Kinji Fukasaku. POP! POP!

1 Comment

  1. They definitely need to present more films this way. I’ve been lucky enough to see a few films presented with live accompaniment from either the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra or the Alloy Orchestra, and it’s always been a delight. Nice review, Cesar!

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