Oscar-winning Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto’s final performance is captured in posthumous documentary “Opus,” directed by his son Neo Sora.
Sakamoto, who was behind the scores of films like “The Last Emperor” and “The Revenant,” died in March at age 71 after a years-long battle with cancer. His last piano performance was staged for “Opus,” which is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
More from IndieWire
In the concert film, Sakamoto performs 20 compositions; the teaser trailer shows Sakamoto playing the score of Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Sheltering Sky.”
Sakamoto issued a statement about “Opus” prior to his passing, saying that the film 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.”
“Opus” is filmed at the NHK Broadcast Center’s 509 Studio, which Sakamoto said had the “finest acoustics in Japan.” Cinematographer Bill Kirstein shot the film using three 4K cameras, with Sakamoto first recording his pieces on an iPhone from his home to “construct the overall composition of the concert that will express the progression of time from morning into night.”
He added, “Everything was meticulously storyboarded so that the camera positions and the lighting changed significantly with each song.”
Sakamoto said, “I went into the shoot a little nervous, thinking this might be my last chance to share my performance with everyone in this way. 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.”
“Opus” is produced by Sakamoto’s manager and wife Norika Sora, along with Albert Tholen, Aiko Masubuchi, and Eric Nyari. Jeremy Thomas serves as an executive producer. Film Constellation is handling international sales.
“Opus” will premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Check out the teaser below.
Watch the teaser for Neo Sora's RYUICHI SAKAMOTO | OPUS, making its North American Premiere in the Spotlight section of #NYFF61 on October 11 & 12!
Full schedule 🗓️: https://t.co/krP1xM5oJw
Passes 🎟️: https://t.co/HLUwEsfkDo pic.twitter.com/p5rU1JTjb2
— 61st New York Film Festival (@TheNYFF) August 29, 2023
Best of IndieWire