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Queer Japan is a documentary about artists, activists, and everyday people from across the spectrum of gender and sexuality in Japan.
Queer Japan is a documentary about artists, activists, and everyday people from across the spectrum of gender and sexuality in Japan.
822 backers pledged $47,193 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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The Queer Japan Project is a multimedia documentary providing portraits of a diverse group of individuals from across the spectrum of gender and sexuality in Japan.

Artists, activists, community leaders, and everyday people will share an intimate look into the everyday triumphs and struggles of being a sexual minority in modern Japan. Through in-depth interviews and slice-of-life vignettes, Queer Japan will celebrate queer expression in Japan in many of its dazzling, prismatic varieties.

Vivienne Sato (ヴィヴィアン佐藤)
Vivienne Sato (ヴィヴィアン佐藤)

So far, director Graham Kolbeins and co-writer Anne Ishii (who are also collaborators at MASSIVE GOODS) have shot one week of interviews in Tokyo with artists like gay manga master Gengoroh Tagame, drag queen and renaissance woman Vivienne Sato, and controversial manko [pussy] artist Rokudenashiko. We also sat down with groundbreaking HIV activist, writer, and magazine editor Hiroshi Hasegawa, visual artist Nogi Sumiko, dancer Atsushi Matsuda of the renowned butoh group DAIRAKUDAKAN, and bar owner Masaki C. Matsumoto

Atsushi Matsuda (松田篤史) and the Butoh group DAIRAKUDAKAN
Atsushi Matsuda (松田篤史) and the Butoh group DAIRAKUDAKAN
Nogi Sumiko (ノギ スミコ)
Nogi Sumiko (ノギ スミコ)

Now, we’re raising funds for a five month shoot (from April to August 2016) in locations across Japan. We’ll follow up with our existing subjects while expanding the scope of The Queer Japan Project to tell even more stories of LGBTQ+ (and beyond) people in Japan. The project will manifest over multiple media including online videos, gallery exhibitions, and a book of photography with extended interviews. The main component of the project is the feature-length documentary Queer Japan, which will be submitted to 2017 film festivals in Japan, the United States, and around the world.

Thanks to a Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship awarded by the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, director Graham Kolbeins will be able to stay in Japan for five months on a cultural visa, working on this project. With housing and basic living expenses covered by the JUSFC grant, funding raised by Kickstarter will go directly to:

  • Travel expenses: it's important for us to tell the stories of queer people all across Japan, in places like Osaka, Kobe, Sapporo, and Hokkaido, as well as small towns where queer communities are hard to come by. 
  • Equipment: Memory cards, hard drives, cinema lenses, monopods, stabilizers, microphones, and hardware for editing in 4K.
  • Crew: Cinematographer, editors, sound department, on-set interpreters, translators, and on-set photographers.
  • Original score: new music for the documentary composed by Will Wiesenfeld (Baths, Geotic).
  • Print publications: As mentioned in the Kickstarter rewards, we'll be producing a black and white zine and a color photo book in addition to the feature length documentary.  
HIV activist and writer Hiroshi Hasegawa (長谷川 博史) with renowned manga artist and historian Gengoroh Tagame (田亀源五郎). Longtime friends and co-founders of G-men magazine.
HIV activist and writer Hiroshi Hasegawa (長谷川 博史) with renowned manga artist and historian Gengoroh Tagame (田亀源五郎). Longtime friends and co-founders of G-men magazine.

Rokudenashiko (ろくでなし子)
Rokudenashiko (ろくでなし子)

 日本語の映画の説明 

「クィア・ジャパン」は、アーティストや活動家、演者、コミュニティーの指導者、そして一般人を紹介するドキュメンタリーです。 インタビューや実生活の一片の描写を通して様々な当事者が自分の独特なストーリーを知ることができます。  

こちらのブログでは 「クィア・ジャパン」の影響や、この映画に出会う人たちやイベントなどをご紹介します。このドキュメンタリーで取り上げられている多くの物語は、LGBTコミュニティーでポジティブな変化をもたらした人たちを注目しながら、ゲイ、レズビアン、バイセクシャル、トランスジェンダーなどのセクシャル・マイノリティー の当事者に立ちはだかる難事を取り上げるものです。  

「クィア・ジャパン」の製作は、グレアム・コルベインズが獲得した、日米友好基金(JUSFC)による「日米芸術家交換プログラム」のフェローシップにより可能になりました。

Co-writer Anne Ishii and director Graham Kolbeins working on their Eisner-nominated anthology, "Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It"
Co-writer Anne Ishii and director Graham Kolbeins working on their Eisner-nominated anthology, "Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It"

Check our Kickstarter updates for more video content, and follow us on Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @QueerJapan. Use #QueerJapan and #クイアジャパン to help spread the word!

Some of the rewards available from Gengoroh Tagame, Rokudenashiko, and MASSIVE GOODS
Some of the rewards available from Gengoroh Tagame, Rokudenashiko, and MASSIVE GOODS

Risks and challenges

For The Queer Japan Project the succeed, we need full-time crew members in editing, sound, cinematography, and production coordination. Translation, transcription, and on-set interpreting will also be crucial to the film's production. To expand the project beyond Tokyo, we'll need a transportation budget to shoot in locations around the country, from Kyoto to Sapporo to Okinawa. Additionally, we'll be using the production budget to secure equipment including lenses, microphones, memory cards, and hardware to edit the film in 4K resolution.

Aside from the feature-length documentary, this project will include art exhibitions, a series of web videos, photography, and printed publications. The interviews we've already conducted are so rich and detailed that it's evident we'll need to publish extended interviews online and in print. A full color Queer Japan photo book will include excerpts from these interviews and information that won't fit into the film's running time. The book will also include on-set photography by a variety of talented photographers from Japan and the U.S.

Beyond the financial challenges of putting together this multimedia documentary project, logistically, we'll need to build a robust network of queer people and allies within Japan to secure subjects and crew members for the documentary.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Shout out on social media! Whether you're on Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr, we'll tag you and express our gratitude for your contribution.

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    Online screener! You'll get a private streaming link to the completed film. Plus a shout-out on social media!

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    Postcard from production! We'll make an exclusive postcard using a photo from The Queer Japan Project and mail it to you anywhere in the world. Plus an online screener and a shout-out on social media!

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    Your Name in the Credits! You'll receive the above rewards (postcard, screener, social media shout-out), plus your name in the Special Thanks section of the credits.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    The Queer Japan Zine! You'll receive the above awards, plus a 16-page limited edition zine with exclusive photos, texts, and interview excerpts from the project.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    DVD or High Def Download! Add Queer Japan to your collection permanently. Your choice between a hard copy of the film on DVD or an HD digital download.

    + Shout-out on social media, streaming screener, postcard, your name in the credits, and the Queer Japan zine!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    MASSIVE GOODS Logo Tee! Get a logo T-shirt from queer Japanese art brand MASSIVE GOODS, brought to you by Graham Kolbeins and Anne Ishii. Plus all of the above rewards!

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    NEW - "Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It" Anthology!

    Big, burly, lascivious, and soft around the edges: welcome to the hypermasculine world of Japanese gay manga. The Eisner-nominated "Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It" is the first English-language anthology of its kind: an in-depth introduction to nine of the most exciting comic artists making work for a gay male audience in Japan. Featuring Gengoroh Tagame, Jiraiya, Takeshi Matsu, Seizoh Ebisubashi, Kazuhide Ichikawa, Kumada Poohsuke, Inu Yoshi, Fumi Miyabi, and Gai Mizuki. Edited by Anne Ishii, Chip Kidd, and Graham Kolbeins. Published by Fantagraphics Books.

    + Social media shout-out, streaming screener, production postcard, your name in the credits, zine, and your choice of DVD or HD download!

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    NEW - "Free Manko" Tee! Rokudenashiko's adorable vagina mascot, Manko-chan, in stark black and white with the bold slogan "FREE MANKO." Support an artist jailed twice in Japan on obscenity charges, and take a stand against censoring creative expression and the human body.

    + Social media shout-out, streaming screener, production postcard, your name in the credits, zine, and your choice of DVD or HD download!

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Gengoroh Tagame Pack! Get a T-shirt and a 16-page manga by internationally renowned gay manga artist and participant in The Queer Japan Project, Gengoroh Tagame. Because of the content of the manga, this reward level is for adults only.

    + Shout-out on social media, screener, postcard, your name in the credits, and Queer Japan zine!

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    NEW - "Best Couple" Sweatshirt! Jiraiya's iconic "Best Couple" artwork are emblazoned on this comfortable crew neck sweatshirt produced by MASSIVE GOODS. Your choice of the classic "Blue Sky" colorway or "Pink Sunset."

    + Social media shout-out, streaming screener, production postcard, your name in the credits, zine, and your choice of DVD or HD download!

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    "What Is Obscenity?" by Rokudenashiko. Get a SIGNED copy of the controversial manko artist's manga memoir about her arrest for making 3D-printed vagina art. English edition published by Koyama Press and produced by MASSIVE GOODS.

    + Shout-out on social media, screener, postcard, your name in the credits, and Queer Japan zine!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    NEW - Hardcover edition of "The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame" SIGNED by Gengoroh Tagame!

    Yet to be released beautiful hardcover reprint of gay manga master Gengoroh Tagame's first English-language anthology, edited by Anne Ishii, Chip Kidd, and Graham Kolbeins, published by Bruno Gmunder. The first edition of this book in paperback sold out its initial run in 2013 and has since been selling on Amazon for $150+. The new hardcover edition is revised and expanded with a new cover by Chip Kidd and a portfolio of Tagame's color illustrations. Comes signed by the master himself!

    + Social media shout-out, streaming screener, production postcard, your name in the credits, zine, and your choice of DVD or HD download!

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    Pledge $105 or more About $105

    NEW - Rokudenashiko Bundle! Get the artist's "Free Manko" tee plus a SIGNED copy of her book "What Is Obscenity?" from Koyama Press.

    + Social media shout-out, streaming screener, production postcard, your name in the credits, zine, and your choice of DVD or HD download!

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    Queer Japan Photo Book! Get a limited edition, signed and numbered full color book featuring photography and extended interviews from the documentary.

    + Shout-out on social media, screener, postcard, your name in the credits, and Queer Japan zine!

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    NEW - Gengoroh Tagame Book Bundle

    Get FIVE English-language books by Gengoroh Tagame from Bruno Gmunder!

    - The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame (New hardcover edition, SIGNED)
    - Gunji
    - Endless Game
    - Fisherman's Lodge
    - The Contracts of The Fall

    + Social media shout-out, streaming screener, production postcard, your name in the credits, zine, and your choice of DVD or HD download!

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    Limited edition art print! Get an exclusive, signed and numbered print of a still from The Queer Japan Project.

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    Pledge $275 or more About $275

    NEW - Bruno Gmunder Gay Manga Bundle

    Get all EIGHT books of gay manga that Bruno Gmunder has published, from Gengoroh Tagame, Takeshi Matsu, and Mentaiko Itto!

    - The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame (New hardcover edition, SIGNED)
    - Gunji (Gengoroh Tagame)
    - Endless Game (Gengoroh Tagame)
    - Fisherman's Lodge (Gengoroh Tagame)
    - The Contracts of The Fall (Gengoroh Tagame)
    - More and More of You (Takeshi Matsu)
    - Dr. Makumakuran (Takeshi Matsu)
    - Priapus (Mentaiko Itto)

    + Social media shout-out, streaming screener, production postcard, your name in the credits, zine, and your choice of DVD or HD download!

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    Signed risograph print by Gengoroh Tagame! You'll get a limited edition, signed and numbered print from the master of Japanese gay art, Gengoroh Tagame.

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    NEW - Huge Jiraiya print! - Rare 24"x36" archival-quality Giclee prints.

    These giant, extremely limited edition prints of Jiraiya's beautiful photorealistic male pin-ups were made for the artist's first U.S. Tour and only a handful remain. Your choice of "Caveman Guu" or "Peace" - see updates for visual reference. Signed and numbered. Get them while they last!

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    Associate Producer! Get your name in the credits as "Associate Producer" and listed on IMDB.

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    Co-Producer! Get your name in the credits as "Co-Producer" and listed on IMDB.

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    Executive Producer! With this reward level, your significant contribution will get you Executive Producer status in the credits and on IMDB.

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    VIP Treatment! In addition to Executive Producer status, you'll get flown to a premiere screening of Queer Japan in Los Angeles, NYC (North American Backers); Tokyo (Japan Backers); or TBD film festival screenings in your country.

    + Shout-out on social media, screener, postcard, zine, Queer Japan Photo Book, and Executive Producer status!

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Funding period

- (33 days)