Ryuichi Sakamoto to be Honored by Locarno Festival

Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, who has worked with David Bowie in various guises and scored movies by greats such as Bernardo Bertolucci, Pedro Almodovar, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, will be honored by the Locarno Film Festival.

Sakamoto, an electronic music pioneer whose Yellow Magic Orchestra, formed in 1978, anticipated both techno and rap music debuted in film in 1983. That year he worked on Nagisa Oshima’s “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” for which in addition to writing the score, which won a BAFTA, he played Captain Yonoi alongside the character played by David Bowie named Major Jack “Strafer” Celliers.

Four years later Sakamoto won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for scoring Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Last Emperor” (1987) in which he also appeared on screen.

Three years later, in 1990, Sakamoto won a second Golden Globe for another Bertolucci film “The Sheltering Sky.”  Other highlights of his long distinguished film career comprise collaborations with Almodovar on “High Heels,” with Brian De Palma on “Snake Eyes,” and with Abel Ferrara for “New Rose Hotel.”

Sakamoto’s score in 2015 for Inarritu’s “The Revenant” earned him Golden Globe and Grammy nominations.

He more recently wrote the music for Alice Winocour’s “Proxima” (2019) and Andrew Levitas’ “Minamata,” starring Johnny Depp, which is among gala premiers at the 2020 Berlinale.

Locarno artistic director Lili Hinstin in a statement praised Sakamoto for “successfully combining minimalism with extraordinarily dense emotional impact, bringing sound into existence through silence and, in his film scores, contradicting – and thereby enhancing – the obvious intentions of entire sequences.”

Sakamoto will receive Locarno’s Vision Award dedicated to talents whose intuitions and skills have left their mark on film history on August 6 during a ceremony at its open-air Piazza Grande venue. He will perform a live improvised piano score for Yasujiro Ozu’s 1933 silent drama “Woman of Tokyo” and hold an onstage conversation the following day.

The 73rd edition the prominent Swiss fest dedicated to indie cinema will run August 5-15.


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