Tatsu Aoki - Filmography

experimental film maker

Tatsu Aoki first began making films in regular 8 gage in early childhood. His biological father, Wahei Hoshino was a movie producer at Shin Toho Movie Studio in the 60's and was the reason for Tatsu to get into small gage filmmaking. He studied experimental filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently an adjunct Associate Professor at the Film, Video and New Media Department, and teaches film production and history courses. He has made many experimental short films. As much as his musical activities, Tatsu Aoki's films are shown internationally. His super 8 diary films and experimental films with optical printing has always been the main attraction of his screenings around the world.

Visit: Tatsu Aoki Experimental Films @ vimeo.com


SELECTED FILMOGRAPHY & Digital Documentations


The Escape, Tatsu Aoki film 2013

2013, Tatsu Aoki, USA, 30 min.
THE ESCAPE is produced by dancer and choreographer Lenora Lee. The film is about the vulnerability of Chinese women upon their arrival to the United States in the early 20th century. It's a very unique dance movie with great music by Francis Wong and Jonathan Chen.
Chicago-based jazz musician and filmmaker Aoki documents a dance performance in a San Francisco Chinese landmark, featuring Lenora Lee Dance, Kei Lun Martial Arts, and more. Mini-DV video. (BS)

December 16, 25014 @ MCA Screen

MCA Screen
Tatsu Aoki
Tue, Dec 16, 2014, 6-8 pm
Museum of Contemporary Art
220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611
FREE with museum admission

Tsusaka Taiko director Tatsu Aoki has been creating experimental films for more than 30 years. He screens a selection of rare 16 mm prints from his archive and introduces a digital print from his ongoing collaboration with choreographer Lenora Lee.


3725, (1980) 11 min
Set in the late 1970s in North Chicago, 3725 traces the obsessions of a Japanese foreign student with the traditional Japanese toy kendama, jazz, and drugs, for an abstract portrait of Japanese culture’s transformation and the disastrous explosion of an individual’s inner life in the US.

Harmony, (1991) 9 min
Aoki employed the multiple exposure technique to film a busy intersection in downtown Chicago, where pedestrians pass each other, keeping to themselves, while inside they carry their own trails of history and discrete feelings.

Washed 1984, (2012) 8 min
This ongoing series draws from old, unexposed film accumulated and stored by Aoki over the past twenty-five years. Periodically, he randomly selects a batch of film rolls to expose and hand process, recording his present life onto the outdated celluloid. This process mirrors Aoki’s journaling, writing daily, present-life observations into non-chronological notebooks.

Puzzle 2000, (2000) 20 min
A day trip to Lincoln Park Zoo turns into a colorful journey of light and shadow, evoking traveling spirits and obscure moving images.

The Detached, (2014) 12 min
Aoki’s collaboration with choreographer Lenora Lee was filmed at Angel Island, popular for its expansive views of the San Francisco skyline and the former site of a US Bureau of Immigration inspection and detention facility, where officials detained, inspected, and examined approximately one million immigrants under the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The Detached features Lenora Lee Dance performing in the restored barracks, where many of the detained Chinese, from 1910 until a fire in 1940 closed the site, carved poetry into the walls.

The Silent Minority

Origins of Now: Stories of the Chicago Nisei

By Ed M. Koziarski, Chicago Reader
April 2, 2009

Jazz musician Tatsu Aoki is making a documentary film about the experience of Chicago’s nisei, many of whom settled here after the internment camps of World War II - "Origins of Now: Stories of the Chicago Nisei".

[read the article]