A Koichi Imaizumi Film
2017 / Japan, Germany / Colour / 123min. / Stereo / HDV / Japanese, English
Koichi is a Japanese man living alone in Berlin. He has no job and hardly any friends.
One night Koichi meets Ryota at a bar which is also a sex club.
Ryota came to Berlin to visit a German guy whom he had “met” on a dating app.
His high hopes for romance (and marriage?) were quickly crushed since the German was only interested in sex, not even letting Ryota stay for the night.
That is why Ryota ended up spending the night in the dark room of the sex club.
Koichi for some reason lets Ryota stay at his apartment.
They have sex.
Ryota goes out almost everyday to get laid by various local men and comes home to Koichi’s.
Increasingly caught up with a strange feeling that is akin to but not quite frustration or curiosity (needless to say, it is not even close to love),
Koichi gradually gives himself up to sex with Ryota.
Eight years since Hatsu-koi (First Love) was screened at the Panorama Section of the Berlin International Film Festival in 2008,
filmmaker Koichi Imaizumi was back in Berlin to shoot his latest feature Berlin Drifters in 2016.
Unlike Hatsu-koi that portrays a process in which a Japanese high school student gains a gay identity,
his new film depicts a story of grown-up men who drift from Tokyo to Berlin.
Gengoroh Tagame, the internationally renowned gay erotic artist from Japan, has written a screenplay for the first time.
How have the conditions surrounding male gay love and sex in Japan changed over the past ten years?
What conditions have remained unchanged?
Using “Berlin” as a reflecting mirror and a medium, Berlin Drifters addresses such issues.
This is the 21st–century version of “a (gay) ‘Last Tango in Paris,’” danced by the men who continue drifting.
Claude Kolz / Jochen Werner / Toby Ashraf
Christian Slaughter / Lupus / Bishop Black
Florian Hagen / Mark Bates / Col Daniels
Wieland Speck / Jürgen Brüning
Sophie Lindenau / Uwe Röttgen / Katharina Zettl
Masaaki Shiozawa / Mitsuaki Kishida / Fumio Sasaki / Ning Yu / Hiroshi Murakami
Arnold Wu / Samson Takahashi / Hiro Kitagawa / Ikko Masuda / Hiroki Iwasa
Kimihiko Abe / Ucchy / Teppen Matsunoki / Shinji Horie / Atsushi Matsuda / Yuzuru Ikushima
Mischka Kral / Petting Schmid / Ben König / Chrissy / Lorenz Michel / John Silver
Hiromi Imaizumi / Tokio Imaizumi / Koichi Imaiuzmi
Produced by habakari-cinema+records, Jürgen Brüning Filmproduktion & Claus Matthes
Screenplay: Gengoroh Tagame
Cinematography: Hiroki Taguchi & Hiroki Iwasa
Sound Recording: Hiroki Iwasa
Editing: Hiroki Iwasa & Koichi Imaizumi
Music and Sound Design: PEixe-elétrico
Vocalist: Masaki Kanamaru
Still Photography: Hiroki Taguchi
Title Calligraphy: Yasumoto Akaiwa
English Subtitles: Takao Kawaguchi
Subtitling Support: Jonathan M. Hall
Directed by Koichi Imaiuzmi
Special Thanks: Berlin
Roland Müller, Prinz Eisenherz Buchladen / Frank Redieß, FICKEN 3000 / Südblock
Björn Koll, Salzgeber / Andrés Pinto Álvaro, Agora Rollberg / Romeo und Romeo
Rainer Baumann / Uwe Röttgen & Katharina Zettl / Ikko Masuda / Akiko Nishimura
Special Thanks: Tokyo
Takashi Otsuka, Tac’s Knot / Toshikazu Hirano, kéivi! / Mitsuaki Kishida, Bar Bridge
Alicia, Bar Gingakei / Eiji Okada, A&O Art Factory / Akiko Mizoguchi / Edward Chan
Takuya Osuga / Emi Osuga / Keiko Fukuma
The Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival : 2017.0909-24
Queer Lisboa : 2017.0915-23
Porn Film Festival Berlin : 2017.1024-29
Porn Film Festival Vienna : 2018.0301-04
Wicked Queer: The Boston LGBT Film Festival : 2018.0329-0408
BerlinDriftersTokio : 2018.0811-12
You just have to get past all the sex to see it.
Berlin Drifters will also be hampered by its raw production values and hit-and-miss performances,
but even those can’t really disguise the film’s fundamentally sweet — and traditional — heart.
Imaizumi and Tagame are, ironically, meticulous in their use of sex, with the most emotionally rewarding segments
as blatantly free of full-frontal nudity as the rest of the film is chock full of it.
Koichi’s reunion with his old boyfriend Mioo and a farewell with Xiaogang are as affecting as they are pointed,
as is Ryota’s slow realization that he may be looking for true love all the wrong way — for him.
Alexanderplatz has never looked so lonely.
Elizabeth Kerr (from 'The Hollywood Reporter')
The beautiful streets of Berlin, beautiful actions of Mr Imaizumi, beautiful storyline in which meticulously crafted plots intertwine together...
Perhaps because of all these, I somehow didn’t find the endless chain of male-to-male sex promiscuous.
This film struck me rather emotionally because it made me recollect my experiences of having sex simply to go into ecstasy
and as a way of releasing myself from anxiety and trauma. By the end of the film, I found my brain lightly exhausted, my mind considerably healed,
and my eyes with a subtle trace of tears unnoticed whilst watching.
This movie is recommended for everybody who hopes to become emotionally aware of—rather than intellectually think about—what sex really is.
K Nomura (Translator)