Japanese Film Noir and Parque Via at San Sebastian 2008


This year the San Sebastian Film Festival was an interesting mix of new cinema and nostalgia.

The festival hosted a retrospective of Japanese Film Noir or Japon en Negro. A complex genre born out of imported American detective films, Japanese film noir is essentially American film noir digested by the Japanese post-war psyche. It even has its own nationalistic spin. The retrospective was thorough, beginning with the first post-war Japanese detective movies, tracing the genre through the Yakuza films of the 1960s. Even more recent works from directors like Takashi Miike of the 1990s were featured—Miike was one of the main influences on the "Splat Pack" filmmakers like Eli Roth and Rob Zombie. Rarely do you see a film festival trace a genre back so thoroughly.


Outside of the Japanese Film Noir genre, one of the new films receiving the most buzz at the festival was the simple and slightly odd, "Parque Via" directed by 28-year-old Enrique Rivero. The story follows the tedious daily routine of Beto, a repressed caretaker whose life is thrown off at the prospect of losing his job. It was a bit tedious to watch 94 minutes of how this slight rupture affected Beto's life. Nevertheless, "Parque Via" holds its own as a contender in this new era of Mexican film next to the likes of "Y Tu Mama Tambien" and "Amores Perros" which deal with cinematic reality in a similar manner. All the seat-shifting that may have occurred during the film was worth it to see the jarring ending that undoubtedly helped win this film the Horizontes Special Mention at San Sebastian.

More information on the Film Festival and all the winners at San Sebastian Film Festival.