Janus Films has acquired “Ryuichi Sakamoto | Opus,” a concert film centered around the late, great performer that premiered recently at the Venice Film Festival and is set to make its North American debut at the New York Film Festival.
Janus Films will release the film theatrically, followed by a streaming premiere on The Criterion Channel and a home video release on the Janus Contemporaries label, a new imprint of Criterion (its first releases come out next month).
Sakamoto was a singular musical force, from his early work with Japanese electronic pop band Yellow Magic Orchestra to his solo work and collaborative albums to his unforgettable work on film scores, from “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” to “The Last Emperor” to Brian De Palma’s “Snake Eyes.” (He also composed the score to “The Revenant” with Alva Noto and The National’s Bryce Dessner.) Sakamoto additionally worked on multiple television shows and video games.
Sakamoto died in March after a lengthy battle with cancer. But before he died, in late 2022, the composer put on one final concert – just him and a piano. And that concert forms the basis for “Ryuichi Sakamoto | Opus.”
“The 20 pieces performed in the film wordlessly narrate his life through his music,” the official synopsis reads. “Intimately filmed in a space he knew well, surrounded by his most trusted collaborators, Sakamoto bares his soul through his music, knowing this may be the last time that he can present his art.”
“Ryuichi Sakamoto | Opus” was directed by Neo Sora and produced by Norika Sora and Eric Nyari, Albert Tholen and Aiko Masubuchi. The film is executive produced by Academy Award-winning producer Jeremy Thomas who worked with Sakamoto on projects like “The Last Emperor” and “Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence.” No release date has been set yet.