JFF: We Are X

X Japan might not be a household name in the West, but they’re one of the most successful and iconic heavy metal bands of all time. The band - originally known simply as X - was formed by drummer Yoshiki and lead vocalist Toshi while they were still in school. After the band enjoyed some success with independent labels in the late 80s, mainstream success beckoned. By the early 90s, they had established themselves as one of Japan’s biggest bands - and even started making some waves internationally. By 1997, however, the band had disbanded. Despite a tragedy and Toshi’s ‘brainwashing’ by a cult, X Japan eventually reformed in the late 2000s. We Are X follows the surviving members as they prepare for a major performance in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Stephen Kijak’s stylish and fascinating documentary recounts the extraordinary history of an extraordinary band. It’s a story that is at times hilarious & ridiculous, and at other times surprisingly dark & tragic. Kijak expertly captures the band’s unique energy and character, while also exploring the sheer passion of the band’s legion of committed fans. At the centre of it all is the friendship between Yoshiki and Toshi, and the many ups-and-downs they have experienced over the decades. The story of X Japan is strange, dramatic and often inspiring - and that makes for one hell of a documentary. The music, by the way, is pretty great too.

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