11. MFFA Animator



Aoki, Tatsu


On animator festival in years:

2009 2008
Born in Tokyo, Japan. Composer, musician, teacher, producer and experimental film maker.
Avant-garde jazzman who is the most recorded Asian-American bassist in U.S. jazz history.
Tatsu grew up listening to traditional Asian music. Studied the shamisen and taiko as well as the piano and guitar before taking up the acoustic bass, and began playing in Tokyo clubs.

He dropped out of high school and at 19 left Japan to study filmmaking in the United States first at Ohio University, and then at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has a graduate degree in film from the School of the Art Institute. He is an adjunct Associate Professor at the School Film, Video and New Media Department, where he teaches film production and history courses. He has made more than 50 experimental short films.

Tatsu began keeping a daily film diary of his life in the mid-70s. “I carried Super 8 cameras everywhere I went and my house was surrounded by 13 different cameras, some were on tripods, some with time-exposure, time lapse, broken camera, hand cranked cameras...my life was on the roll and on the reel”. Films are usually presented with live film score performances by Tatsu and the violinist Johanthan Chen

Tatsu Aoki presented his films at the festivals: Chicago Filmmakers; Chicago Sound and Vision Show; Asian American Showcase; Retrospective in Sapporo, Japan; Asia Pacific Cultural Center, Oakland, CA. Each year 1988 – 1994 he organized in 10 American cities Jikken Eiga: The Annual Japanese Experimental Film Tour.
Films: 3725 (1980, 11 min); Bali (1991, 5 min); Local Color 1 (1987, 10 min); Solutions (1991, 25 min) Traveling Spirits (2006, 15 min) Decades Passed (2003, 25 min), Shape (1996, 8 min), Discovery (1991, 28 min). Super 8 and 16mm.

Aoki founded the Chicago Asian-Asmerican Jazz Festival. Jazz critic Neil Tesser wrote, "He has harnessed his technique to the yoke of clear communications." In addition he is a founder and Artistic Director of the Annual Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival and participates in several other local concert series. He's Executive Producer of Asian Improv Records in San Francisco.
Bassist Tatsu Aoki is a prolific and accomplished musician, composer and educator. He works in a wide array of musical styles, ranging from traditional Asian music to jazz to experimental music and is a much in-demand artist performing on both contrabass and the shamisen (Japanese 3-stringed lute). He has recorded over 100 albums featuring many of the musical legends of Chicago, including Fred Anderson, Von Freeman, Malachi Favors Maghostut, Don Moye and John Watson Sr.

2006 saw Aoki present his most ambitious work to date, "re: Rooted" a continuation of his "Rooted" composition cycle featuring the MIYUMI Project Big Band at Millennium Park's Pritzker Pavilion.