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Celluloid Dreams grabs Wakamatsu Collection

Blaq Out to release Japanese New Wave helmer titles

Hengameh Panahi’s Paris-based Celluloid Dreams has acquired international rights to cult movies by Koji Wakamatsu, the bad boy of Japan’s ’60s New Wave whose latest film, “The Millennial Rapture” plays today in Venice Horizons.

In a first deal, Blaq Out, a homevideo distributor in which Celluloid Dreams has a stake, will release the 16-movie Wakamatsu Collection in three DVD packs in France.

The collection takes in Wakamatsu’s breakthrough, the voyeuristic “Secrets Behind the Wall,” his 1965 study of radical politics and sexual excess; 1967’s “Violated Angels”; 1970’s “Sex Jack” and his 2007 comeback “United Red Army,” about real-life far-left terrorist factions, which took the Japanese film award at the Tokyo Festival.

Wakamatsu also was executive producer on Nagisa Oshima’s “The Realm of the Senses.” He was the subject of a retrospective at Paris’ Cinematheque in 2010.

Blaq Out plans to distribute more director-driven collections, while there are sales opportunities for the Wakamatsu Collection outside France, Panahi said.

“I think this is a way of promoting directors with an impressive body of work that is still not yet well-known,” she added.

“Rapture” adapts Kenji Nakagami’s allegorical fantasy novel about young men in an isolated community who give in to the temptation of seducing women, and are so cursed to die.

The parable-like “Rapture” is a far cry from the violence of his first films.

“The position of woman is completely different,” Panahi said. “Before, they were victims, sexual objects. Now they are guardian figures, protecting men.”

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