The Japanese artist Sumito Sakakibara’s enigmatic short film Iizuna Fair drifts through the mental space of a man lost in memory, seemingly after his car has careened off the road. With Sakakibara describing the barely seen protagonist as ‘buried under memories full of inhibition and promises that never kept’, the window into his inner world seems tinged with both nostalgia and regret. A slow drift in perspective reveals a surreal swirl of images, with the action centred on the bustle of a fair in the small town of Iizuna, Nagano Prefecture. The vibrant colour and bustle of fair rides, ice skaters and food stands is given a haunting quality by the shifting human figures and faces that move through the scene, and a plaintive piano-and-string score that occasionally gives way to the crackle of a bonfire.
Commissioned by the Nagano Prefectural Art Museum, where it plays on a loop on a massive screen, themes of circularity and repetition permeate Sakakibara’s work. The rotating perspective gives the impression of a complete 360-degree turn across the film’s duration, and toy trains, people and fair rides appear to endlessly repeat their paths throughout. Perhaps embedded in this motion is an expression of the futility of fixating on regret. But, regardless of artistic intent, the resulting work contains a peculiar, poignant beauty, engrossing despite its pace due to the fine details that continue to reveal themselves as this small, self-contained world slowly turns.
Director: Sumito Sakakibara