REED: The Life and Works of Roy Kiyooka

REED: The Life and Works of Roy Kiyooka

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94 minutes


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Japanese subtitles available

Fumiko Kiyooka tells the story of her father, Japanese Canadian artist Roy Kiyooka (1926-1994). He was an internationally renowned artist who fascinated many, while remaining enigmatic to most. For Fumiko, making the film "...was about digging in deeper and trying to find out things that were not always accessible on the surface."

Roy Kiyooka was a seminal force in the New York school of painting in the 1960s, his hard edge works receiving critical acclaim. He abandoned painting at the peak of his career to become a poet in the tradition of the monk Basho. He joined the ranks of several writers in Toronto who worked with Coach House Press. One of them, Michael Ondaatje, remembers him this way: "Roy…was like a reed, receptive to every nuance in you." Roy Kiyooka directed his abundant creative energy to work in photography, sculpture, performance art and music.

Eric Volmers of the Calgary Herald, wrote, "A firm believer in art communities, Roy Kiyooka had a habit of becoming a central figure in whatever city he was in, whether it be in Regina, Vancouver, Montreal or Halifax. Using interviews with friends, contemporaries and members of her own family, Fumiko traces her father's life from his birth in Moose Jaw to his upbringing in Calgary and through his restless career as a student, teacher and renowned artist and poet."

REED: The Life and Works of Roy Kiyooka follows the radical times in which the artist lived, from the Beat Era to the turmoil of the 60s and redress for Japanese Canadians in the 1980s. It is an extraordinary tribute to a great artist, showing a broad spectrum of his work while revealing the personal and social history that inspired him.

"My great-grandfather was a samurai warrior nicknamed REED. My grandmother always said that my father, Roy, had the same spirit as her father. Of all her children, Roy lived by the Bushido, an unwritten Samurai code of conduct.

In this film I tried to capture the essence of who my father was by working with footage I shot of his friends, colleagues and family. I found this to be the most difficult journey I have ever undertaken.... and the most transformative. I had to learn how to read in between the lines; to listen to what was not said as well as what was. The unspoken was the primary path of this film."
             -Fumiko Kiyooka


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Director's Artistic Statement: Artistic_Statement_Reed.pdf

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