Fresh off the success of Eiichi Yamamoto’s BELLADONNA OF SADNESS, Cinelicious Pics and SpectreVision are teaming up once again to restore and re-release another underground classic of Japanese cinema, Toshio Matsumoto’s 1969 queer epic, FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES (BARA NO SÔRETSU). Long unavailable in the U.S., this shattering, kaleidoscopic masterpiece is one of the most subversive and intoxicating films of the late 1960s: a headlong dive into a dazzling, unseen Tokyo night-world of drag bars and fabulous divas, fueled by booze, drugs, fuzz guitars, performance art and black mascara. No less than Stanley Kubrick cited the film as a direct influence on his own classic A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.
“It’s taken over two years of negotiation to get the rights to restore FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES,” says Cinelicious Pics E.V.P. of Acquisitions & Distribution, Dennis Bartok. “But the effort is completely worth it: FUNERAL PARADE is one of the greatest unseen Japanese films of the late 1960s and a landmark work of queer cinema.” “Toshio Matsumoto’s experimental docudrama stands unique amongst other Japanese New Wave films released by ATG (Art Theatre Guild),” adds Distribution Coordinator Ei Toshinari. “FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES is a fascinating reflection on post-war Japan and a compelling overture to an underground lifestyle. It’s a cinematic experience that reverberates in the mind.”
An unknown club dancer at the time, transgender actor Peter (from Kurosawa’s RAN) gives an astonishing Edie Sedgwick/Warhol superstar-like performance as hot young thing Eddie, hostess at Bar Genet — where she’s ignited a violent love-triangle with reigning drag queen Leda (Osamu Ogasawara) for the attention of club owner Gonda(played by Kurosawa regular Yoshio Tsuchiya, from SEVEN SAMURAI and YOJIMBO). One of Japan’s leading experimental filmmakers, Matsumoto bends and distorts time here like Resnais in LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, freely mixing documentary interviews, Brechtian film-within-a-film asides, Oedipal premonitions of disaster, his own avant-garde shorts, and even on-screen cartoon balloons, into a dizzying whirl of image + sound.
“We’ve had a tremendous experience working with Cinelicious recently on the restoration and re-release of Eiichi Yamamoto’s animated masterpiece BELLADONNA OF SADNESS,” notes SpectreVision Partner/Director of Development Daniel Noah. “FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES seems like an ideal follow-up, another brilliant, subversive and long-lost Japanese film that’s slipped through the cracks of movie history. Rediscovering films like this is a true joy.” “Toshio Matsumoto ranks amongst the great multi-hyphenate artists of the Japanese New Wave movement, having produced groundbreaking work across a host of genres and mediums,” comments Cinelicious Pics’ Acquisitions Director David Marriott. “FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES stands as Matsumoto’s best-known work, and almost certainly his masterpiece.”
Featuring breathtaking black-and-white cinematography by Tatsuo Suzuki that rivals the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe, FUNERAL PARADE offers a frank, openly erotic and unapologetic portrait of an underground community of drag queens. A key work of the Japanese New Wave and of queer cinema, FUNERAL PARADE is being beautifully restored in 4k from the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements for re-release in 2017.
The deal was brokered by Dennis Bartok, Ei Toshinari, and David Marriott of Cinelicious Pics and Hirofumi Sakamoto of the Postwar Japan Moving Image Archive on behalf of director Toshio Matsumoto, utilizing film materials stored at the National Film Center – The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (MOMAT).