The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi and 27 Years Without Images
Joseph del Pesco is curator at Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco
Few artists have turned from creating revolutionary art into a commitment to true revolution like Masao Adachi, a collaborator with both the Japanese New Wave and the Japanese Red Army. A scriptwriter and colleague of Nagisa Oshima and Koji Wakamatsu, and a director of left-wing sex films, Adachi abandoned commercial filmmaking-and Japan-entirely in 1974 to join the extremist Japanese Red Army in exile in Beirut, where the group gained notoriety through deadly hijackings and bombings in support of a free Palestine and a worldwide communist revolution. Also in Beirut was the group's founder, Fusako Shigenobu, and her daughter, May, who lived incognito for years. A film on exile, revolution, landscapes, and memory, Anabasis brings forth the remarkable parallel stories of Adachi and May, one a filmmaker who gave up images, another a young woman whose undercover existence forbade keeping images of her own life. Baudelaire places Adachi and May's revelatory voice-over reminiscences over warm, fragile Super 8mm footage of Tokyo and Beirut, grounding their wide-ranging reflections in the solid reality of place. Anabasis provides a richly rewarding remembrance of a fascinating, now nearly forgotten era and reminds us of the power of cinema to both portray-and influence-its landscape.