Film featuring Ryuichi Sakamoto’s final performances to premiere at Venice Film Festival

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Ryuichi Sakamoto’s final performances will be premiered as a film at Venice Film Festival next week.

Opus has been directed by the late musician’s son Neo Soro and produced by Sakamoto’s wife and manager Norika Sora the film includes 20 of his compositions.

Leading up to the musician’s death, Sakamoto was unable to perform due to his battle with cancer however delivered one final performance for the film.

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The Oscar and GRAMMY-winning Japanese composer and electronic pioneer died aged 71 on March 28

The film includes live performances of works by the Yellow Magic Orchestra and some excerpts he created for films such as The Last Emperor and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.

Premiering on September 5 at the film festival, Deadline has shared a posthumous statement from Sakamoto about his work on the film.

Sakamoto explains: “The project was conceived as a way to record my performances – while I was still able to perform – in a way that is worth preserving for the future. We borrowed the NHK Broadcast Center’s 509 Studio to record in, which is a place that I think offers the finest acoustics in Japan.”

“I played every piece at home which we recorded on an iPhone to construct the overall composition of the concert that will express the progression of time from morning into night. Everything was meticulously storyboarded so that the camera positions and the lighting changed significantly with each song,” he adds.

Read this next: Ryuichi Sakamoto’s ‘Ongaku Zukan’ gets first international reissue

The production crew included around 30 people and was headed by cinematographer Bill Kirstein, who shot Opus using three 4K cameras.

“I went into the shoot a little nervous, thinking this might be my last chance to share my performance with everyone in this way. We recorded a few songs a day with a lot of care,” says Sakamoto. “In some sense, while thinking of this as my last opportunity to perform, I also felt that I was able to break new grounds. Simply playing a few songs a day with a lot of concentration was all I could muster at this point in my life.

“Perhaps due to the exertion, I felt utterly hollow afterwards, and my condition worsened for about a month. Even so, I feel relieved that I was able to record before my death – a performance that I was satisfied with,” he concludes in the statement.

Becky Buckle is Mixmag’s Multimedia Editor, follow her on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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