Visual Underground: Theatre Scorpio & Japanese Experimental Cinema of the Sixties

Over the past few years the legacy of the Japanese cinematic and artistic experiments of the 1960s has received renewed international attention in academia in Japan, Europe and North America. Visual Underground: Theatre Scorpio & Japanese Experimental Cinema of the Sixties presents and reflects on a body of rarely screened experimental Japanese films from this decade. Visual Underground is a uniquely conceived event, comprised of three days of film screenings and a one-day academic symposium, both of which are open to the general public.

Visual Underground will screen a series of experimental films associated with the legendary Theatre Scorpio (Sasori-za), as well as with Japan’s first art-house distributor and production house, the Art Theatre Guild (ATG). Theatre Scorpio was founded in 1967 and was located beneath the main ATG theatre, Shinjuku Bunka. Theatre Scorpio was a singular art space that functioned as one of the epicenters for underground film culture and avant-garde performance.

In celebration of this exciting retrospective on Japanese experimental cinema of the 1960s in Montreal, we are featuring a special video interview with the internationally renowned filmmaker, theorist, and video artist Toshio Matsumoto. Concurrent to Visual Underground, the Cinémathèque québécoise ( will host a large retrospective of ATG films as part of its special program on Japanese independent cinema, running throughout September 2011.

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Acknowledgments: Visual Underground: Theatre Scorpio & Japanese Experimental Cinema of the Sixties was made possible through the generous support of Japan Foundation. Additional support was provided by the Department of East Asian Studies at McGill University and the Dean of Arts Development Fund as well as Suntory Foundation, Marc Steinberg (Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Concordia University) and Livia Monnet (Department of Comparative Literature, Université de Montréal).

Collaborators: Gô Hirasawa (Columbia University/Meijigakuin University; curator of the film program for Visual Underground), Karine Boulanger (Cinémathèque québécoise), Marc Steinberg (Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Concordia University).

Special thanks to: Kawasaki City Museum, Fukuoka City Public Library, Munenori Yamakawa, Ryan Cook, Katie Gilkes (De Sève Cinema), Livia Nardini (Department of East Asian Studies, McGill University), Vincent Tao, Francis Guérin and Brian Bergstrom.


Dates: September 16-18, 2011

Venues: De Sève Cinema at Concordia University & LEACOCK 232 at McGill University