Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on July 2014
With Blu-ray quickly overtaking DVDs and 4K Ultra HD TVs creating the need for yet another format, most people hardly remember VHS tapes. Not so the fanatical collectors in Rewind This!, a documentary on the cultural impact of the invention that allowed people to watch movies at home and control their own TV schedules. It was a worldwide revolution that started in Japan. “I wanted to have an international element to the film, and Japan seemed the best place to go,” director Josh Johnson told Metropolis after the Tokyo premiere. The doc uses archival ads to recount the history of two Japanese companies, Sony and JVC, as they fought the war of Betamax vs. VHS (for those who missed it, Sony lost). After a Kickstarter campaign to raise airfare to Tokyo, Johnson interviewed Tom Mes, a writer for the Japanese film site Midnight Eye. Mes recounts how Japanese filmmakers embraced direct-to-video films, called “V-Cinema.” “It is interesting that Japanese directors would go back and forth between V-Cinema and major films,” Johnson says. “In America, if a film goes directly to video that is a real stigma.” Prolific performer Shoko Nakahara, who’s interviewed in the doc and attended the premiere, made a more personal statement: “If it weren’t for VHS, I would never have been an actress.” Rewind This! will screen at at Uplink in Shibuya from July 27.