Doc Films kicks off its spring calendar this Monday with Fritz Lang’s Scarlet Street, the first in a series titled “Women in Film Noir.” There are a number of obvious highlights over the next few months: a rare revival of Agnes Varda’s first feature La Pointe Courte (edited by Alain Resnais!), 35-millimeter prints of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, and an only-at-Doc double feature of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Repo Man. But the most impressive is the Tuesday-night series, “Art Theater Guild and Japanese Underground Cinema, 1962-1974.”
As programmers Junko Yamazaki and Daniel Johnson explain in their series notes, Art Theater Guild (ATG) was formed in the early 60s to distribute art-house movies from other countries but transferred to film production later in the decade. “While partially subsidized by one of Japan’s major studios, Toho, ATG was largely free of the commercial and artistic constraints imposed by these studios.” Their output included movies by some of Japan’s major directors, including Shohei Imamura (whose ATG production, A Man Vanishes, screened at the Siskel Film Center in January) and Nagisa Oshima (represented in Doc’s series with The Ceremony on April 16), subversive “pink” films (soft-core genre movies) by Koji Wakamatsu (whose Ecstasy of the Angels screens on April 9), and experimental work like Funeral Parade of Roses, which screens this week.