Osaka art-house theater under fire for ‘roman porno’ screenings

Shukan Jitsuwa Apr. 26
Shukan Jitsuwa Apr. 26
An art-house theater in a residential area of Osaka is engaged in a lawsuit over erotic films it sometimes unspools, reports Shukan Jitsuwa (Apr. 26).

Located in the ground floor of high-rise apartment building in the Kujo area, the 69-seat Cine Nouveau theater last year screened a selection of soft-core porn films, some from within the “roman porno” genre established by venerable studio Nikkatsu four decades ago.

“Most of the works shown at this movie theater are independent films, documentaries, projects reflecting social issues, or other pieces containing artistic elements,” says a reporter for a local paper. “A porn piece was shown as part of commemoration to a screen writer. The management association responsible for the building then objected when that screening was run in parallel with a project to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the porn genre created by Nikkatsu.”

“Porn movies are not appropriate for a residential area,” a resident of the apartment building is quoted.

“The theater should halt the showing of porn if it considers itself to really be dedicated to fine art,” says another tenant.

The theater’s management has been struggling to find a way to resolve the situation. “While the screening to commemorate the screenwriter didn’t attract any negative reaction,” manager Noriko Yamazaki says, “claims mounted when the word ‘porn’ appeared explicitly (as in the Nikkatsu features).”

It looked like both sides would reach a compromise, but that has not been the case.

Earlier this year, the issue was brought to the courtroom. While the plaintiff is clearly the building’s management association, the matter is complicated.

“Because I am also a member of the association, the cost for the lawsuit is coming from our rent,” says a staff member of the theater. “Therefore, money I am paying is being used to sue me. It’s nonsense.”

The plaintiff’s arguments demand that adult-oriented films not be shown, screenings cease by 9 p.m., and posters not to be visible.

Experts, however, question whether all factors are being considered. “Roman porno is a tool to learn the background of today’s leading movie directors as well as what social issues were pertinent in that particular time in history,” says film critic Satoshi Takahashi. “Some works actually among Japan’s best films. It may be too old-fashioned to simply judge all porn to be perverted.”

Can porn be a piece of art? Shukan Jitsuwa leaves that up to you, dear reader.

Source: “Jimoto ninki gekijo ga roman poruno joei ni hinan gogo,” Shukan Jitsuwa (April 26, pages 206-207)

Note: Brief extracts from Japanese vernacular media in the public domain that appear here were translated and summarized under the principle of “fair use.” Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the translations. However, we are not responsible for the veracity of their contents. The activities of individuals described herein should not be construed as “typical” behavior of Japanese people nor reflect the intention to portray the country in a negative manner. Our sole aim is to provide examples of various types of reading matter enjoyed by Japanese.

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