Best Documentary, 2021 CAAMFest
Who is Lun*na Menoh? Performance artist, provocateur. A Los Angeles-based Japanese artist who’s called herself a “costume sculptor,” whipping found objects like sofas or soiled collars into lavish fashions of outlandish scale. If you’re lucky, you’ll also find her as the lead singer and nunchucker of the theremin electronica band Seksu Roba. Regardless of the medium, Lun*na is always camera-ready, her everyday regalia and alien yips a documentarian’s dream.
What is WHO IS LUN*NA MENOH?? A conceptual artist who orchestrates fashion shows about fashion shows deserves a documentary in the same spirit, and director Jeff Mizushima* crafts a witty, wily, and always-funny set of biographical nesting dolls that challenges textual boundaries and authorship statements. Let’s not forget that Mizushima once directed a soapy road trip drama about a hamster with a terminal illness (Etienne!, SDAFF ’09) which may or may not prepare audiences for this, his most complex gag to date. And let’s also not forget that said hamster movie co-starred Caveh Zahedi, whose serial jokesmanship and comic self-flagellation are as much an inspiration for WHO IS LUN*NA MENOH? as its titular prankster. The result, a film to the third power, may have destroyed the artist documentary altogether, but Lun*na Menoh and/or Jeff Mizushima wouldn’t have it any other way.