The pioneering film director and video artist Toshio Matsumoto has died, aged 85. He passed away on April 12th in Tokyo from intestinal obstruction, local media has reported.

Matsumoto was well known as the director of such films as Demons (Pandemonium) (1971) and Dogura Magura (1988).

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After graduating from the University of Tokyo and initially working in documentary cinema, he was a major figure in the 1960s avant-garde scene. His strange Oedipal tale, Funeral Parade of Roses (1969), is a classic of the counterculture in Tokyo at the time.

He was part of the burgeoning video art scene in Japan. While he is famous for his feature-length movies, his short films such as For the Damaged Right Eye (aka For My Crushed Right Eye) (1968), Atman (1975), Phantom (1975), and Shift (1982). Mothers (1967) won the Grand Prix at the Venice Film Festival. He also participated in the 1970 World Expo in Osaka.

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Matsumoto was also a film educator and trailblazing theorist who helped establish the concept of eizo (“film”, “image” and “video”). He received the Special Achievement Award at the 17th Japan Media Arts Festival.

Matsumoto’s generation of avant-garde and taboo-breaking artists is slowly fading away. In recent years we have lost Koji Wakamatsu, Nagisa Oshima, Genpei Akasegawa and, last month, Seijin Suzuki.

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