enpaku 早稲田大学演劇博物館


3 The 1980s and 1990s: Before and After the AIDS panic and the “Gay Boom”

  The Japanese film industry in the 1980s faced the demise of the organized system of film production by major film companies. The Japanese film industry in the post-studio period experienced significant changes on various fronts including who was making films, who was watching or “consuming” them, and media fusion. After the collapse of the economic bubble in 1989, Japanese cinema appeared to enjoy a renaissance thanks to the global success of Takeshi Kitano, Naomi Kawase, and Hayao Miyazaki in 1997. However, harsh conditions in fact persist, and even in the new millennium, radical change is still required in terms of the shape of production, distribution, and screening.
  How were sexual minorities and deep intimate relationships between people of the same sex portrayed in films and television dramas during the film industry upheaval of the 1980s and 1990s? At the beginning of the 1980s, Barazoku films were screened at adult film cinemas (Section 2), and the period from the mid-1980s until the 1990s saw the rise of independent cinema culture showing mainly overseas queer films and the birth and development of LGBT film festivals (Section 4). Japanese filmmakers were not satisfied with a situation in which sexual minorities were only portrayed in adult films and overseas productions. New independent post-studio era filmmakers began to depict intimacy between girls and homosexuality.
  As filmmakers who emerged in the 1980s, this exhibition looks at Ryousuke Hashiguchi and Shiori Kazama, who came to light at the Pia Film Festival. The works of Kazama, who specializes in the—sometimes extreme—portrayal of girls, depict relationships that awaken the desire of gay men and lesbians. Meanwhile, Hashiguchi, who released A Touch of Fever in 1993, along with his contemporary Hiroyui Oki, is one of the few filmmakers who has been openly gay since the beginning of his career.
  Kazama and Hashiguchi were not the only filmmakers to depict homosexuality in their films in the 1990s. While the AIDS panic of the 1980s and the “Fuchu Youth House incident” of February 1990 were clear signs of prejudice against homosexuals in Japan, from 1991 to around 1995 a “gay boom” occurred, in which relevant issues had a high profile in the media and in the arts. This was sparked by the “Gay Renaissance 91” special feature in the February 1991 edition of the women’s magazine CREA. Currently, although there is some criticism of the commoditization of homosexuality, we are in an era in which a steady stream of Japanese-made narrative films, documentaries, and television dramas depicting homosexuality and HIV/AIDS are being released. As the “gay boom” offers visibility to homosexuality and intimacy between people of the same sex on the big or small screen, whose existence has it simultaneously been rendering invisible?