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Toshiro Mifune is shown in this undated photo from director Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai." The film will play during Focus on Japanese Cinema at noon on April 11 at the Starz FilmCenter.

 

Focus on Japanese Cinema, Art and Culture schedule announced

Four-day Japanese cinema, art and culture showcase will take place April 8-11 at the Starz FilmCenter

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Focus on Japanese Cinema

Dates

April 8-11

Place

Starz FilmCenter

900 Auraria Parkway

Denver, CO 80204

Price

• Opening night: $20/general; $15/DFS member or patrons of the Japanese consulate

• "Hausu": $9.75/general; $7.25/senior; $7/DFS member

• Other movies: $12/general; $10/DFS member or patrons of the Japanese consulate

For more information about the festival or to buy tickets, go to www.denverfilm.org.

DENVER – The Denver Film Society and UC-Denver's College of Arts & Media announced the lineup for Focus on Japanese Cinema, Art and Culture, a four-day festival about Japan taking place April 8-11 at the Starz FilmCenter.

 

Twelve films, from legendary director Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" to Satoshi Kon's animated feature "Millenium Actress," will be showcased, as well as other activities during the weekend.

 

"Asian film is very popular here," said Tom Botelho, executive director of the Denver Film Society. "We've done Asian film fests in the past ... but we've never done just a focus on Japanese cinema."

 

A main focus will be a spotlight on director Mikio Naruse, a pioneering Japanese filmmaker with an extensive filmography spanning from the 1930s to the 1960s.

 

"He's kind of a forgotten master of Japanese directors," Botelho said.

 

The idea for a spotlight on Naruse originally came from the consulate general of Japan at Denver, he said.

 

"He screened a Naruse film for us," Botelho said. "He seriously asked us to consider his work. It has been screened in film form in New York and some other places, but it's really gone unseen here. ...

 

"The more we got into it, the more excited we got."

 

There will also be several lectures in addition to the movies, including an overview of Japanese film called "Japanese Cinema 101" and a look at the the music from "Seven Samurai." San Francisco-based artist Kota Ezawa will also lead a lecture regarding his work. All the lectures are free and open to the public.

 

"It's more of a cultural exchange," Botelho said.

 

Focus on Japanese Cinema, Art and Culture is sponsored by the Japan Foundation in partnership with the Consulate-General of Japan at Denver, UC Denver Live!, Japan America Society and Asian American Student Services at UC Denver.

 

The schedule for Focus on Japanese Cinema:

Captions provided by the Denver Film Society

 

Wednesday, April 7

 

11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

Japanese Cinema 101

Free to public

An overview of the film series, placing the work in context to historical and contemporary Japanese film makers, narrative styles and themes, by Howie Movshovitz, Director of Film Education at the UC-Denver College of Arts & Media and Colorado Public Radio Film Critic.

 

Thursday, April 8

 

4 p.m.

Master Class: Traditional Culture and Japanese Cinema

A talk on how the traditions of Japanese culture form the foundation for the work of the great masters: Mizoguchi, Ozu and Kurosawa. Hosted by David Desser: Film historian, author and Kurosawa scholar.

 

7 p.m.

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Onna ga kaidan wo agaru toki)

(Japan, 1960)

Director: Mikio Naruse

Run time: 111 minutes
Genre/Subjects: Asian, Women's Issues
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
A modern geisha has reached the age where, for the sake of her future security, she believes she must either marry or find the money to open her own bar. As good a film as there is about the lives of women in male-dominated society.

 

9 p.m.

Opening Night Reception

Reception included with price of ticket to "When a Woman Ascends the Stairs."

Place: Domo Restuarant

 

Friday, April 9

 

Noon to 2 p.m.
Master Class: "Deja Vu" with visual artist Kota Ezawa
Place: Auraria Campus,Technology Building Rooms 125-27
Description: Internationally acclaimed visual artist Kota Ezawa will present an overview of contemporary artists who use appropriation to illuminate social and cultural issues.  Participants in the class will have an opportunity for hands-on learning. Using image clips from Hitchcock’s thriller "North by Northwest" Ezawa will guide participants through the development of images and ideas centered upon strategies of appropriation.

 

5 to 6 p.m.

Visual artist Kota Ezawa – Public Lecture

Free to public

World famous artist Kota Esawa's animations deal with abstraction and mediated perceptions of reality through reconstructions of existing films and videos. In this lecture, Ezawa will present his work in the context of 20th century avant-garde animation. A reception will be held immediately following the lecture.

 

7 p.m.

Late Spring (Banshun)
(Japan, 1949)

Director: Yasujiro Ozu

Run time: 108 minutes
Genre/Subjects: Asian, Family Issues
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
A widower tells his daughter that it’s time for her to marry, rather than staying dutifully with him. She resists. No one observes the nuances of shifts in family life better than Ozu, with a blend of transcendant beauty and an occasionally silly sense of humor.

 

9:30 p.m.

Yearning (Midareru)
(Japan, 1964)

Director: Mikio Naruse

Run time: 98 minutes
Genre/Subjects: Asian, Drama
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
A childless war widow lives with her husband’s family and helps run the family grocery. Then, a supermarket opens nearby. A film about the profound social and economic changes in post-World War II Japan.

 

10 p.m.

House (Hausu)

(Japan, 1977)

Director: Nobuhiko Obayahshi

Run time: 87 minutes

Genre/Subjects: Foreign, Horror

Language: Japanese with English subtitles

How to describe Nobuhiko Obayahshi’s 1977 movie "House?" As a psychedelic ghost tale? A stream-of-consciousness bedtime story? An episode of Scooby Doo as directed by Dario Argento? Any of the above will do for this hallucinatory head trip about a schoolgirl who travels with six classmates to her ailing aunt’s creaky country home, only to come face to face with evil spirits, bloodthirsty pianos, and a demonic housecat. Too absurd to be genuinely terrifying, yet too nightmarish to be merely comic, "House" seems like it was beamed to Earth from another planet. Or perhaps the mind of a child: the director fashioned the script after the eccentric musings of his 11-year-old daughter, then employed all the tricks in his analog arsenal (mattes, animation, and collage) to make them a visually astonishing, raucous reality. Never before released in the United States, House is one of the most exciting genre discoveries in years.

 

Saturday, April 10

 

2 p.m.

Lightning (Inazuma)

(Japan, 1952)

Director: Mikio Naruse

Run time: 87 minutes
Genre/Subjects: Asian, Drama
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
An example of the shomin-geki, films about lower middle class life, Lightning looks at the daily lives of a family of half-brothers and -sisters born to a mother who’s had a series of husbands. They’re rough kids, except for the heroine.

 

4 p.m.

Cure (Kuya)
(Japan, 1997)

Director: Kiyoshi Kurasawa

Run time: 111 minutes
Genre/Subjects: Asian, Horror
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
A series of murder victims are each marked with an X carved on their chests. The killers themselves turn out to be entranced and with no memory of the crimes. Someone else must be behind these bizarre events.

 

7 p.m.

After Life (Wandâfuru raifu)

(Japan, 1998)

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Run time: 118 minutes

Genre/Subjects: Asian, Drama

Language: Japanese with English subtitles

As a line of people proceed into a non-descript building, you slowly realize that they are people who have just died. In this place, they are given several days to choose one memory from their lives, which they will take with them into their eternity. It’s more complicated than that, and also both sad and magnificent.

 

7:30 p.m.

Millenium Actress (Sennen joyû)
(Japan, 2001)

Director: Satoshi Kon

Run time: 87 minutes
Genre/Subjects: Animation, Asian
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
A beautiful example of Japanese anime. The story is about an actress who becomes the subject of a documentary, but the film as a whole is also an effusive tribute to the Japanese cinema since World War II.

 

10 p.m.

House (Hausu)

(Japan, 1977)

Director: Nobuhiko Obayahshi

Run time: 87 minutes

Genre/Subjects: Foreign, Horror

Language: Japanese with English subtitles

How to describe Nobuhiko Obayahshi’s 1977 movie "House?" As a psychedelic ghost tale? A stream-of-consciousness bedtime story? An episode of Scooby Doo as directed by Dario Argento? Any of the above will do for this hallucinatory head trip about a schoolgirl who travels with six classmates to her ailing aunt’s creaky country home, only to come face to face with evil spirits, bloodthirsty pianos, and a demonic housecat. Too absurd to be genuinely terrifying, yet too nightmarish to be merely comic, "House" seems like it was beamed to Earth from another planet. Or perhaps the mind of a child: the director fashioned the script after the eccentric musings of his 11-year-old daughter, then employed all the tricks in his analog arsenal (mattes, animation, and collage) to make them a visually astonishing, raucous reality. Never before released in the United States, House is one of the most exciting genre discoveries in years.

 

Sunday, April 11

 

Noon

Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai)
(Japan, 1954)

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Run time: 203 minutes
Genre/Subjects: Asian, Epic
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
One of the great masterpieces of the cinema – a dazzling blend of the epic and the intimate. Villagers in 16th century Japan hire seven unemployed samurai to defend them against bandits.

 

4 p.m.

Tampopo (Dandelion)
(Japan, 1985)

Director: Juzo Itami

Run time: 114 minute

Genre/Subjects: Asian, Comedy
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
Known as “the noodle movie.” A truck driver and his friend help a young widow make a go of her noodle shop. A comedy about food, which critic Roger Ebert says, “exists in no known category.”

 

5 p.m.

Lecture – David Bondelevitch "The Music of Seven Samurai"

Free to the public

 

6 to 7:30 p.m.
Closing Night Reception
Free to the public

 

7 p.m.

Zatoichi

(Japan, 2003)

Director: Takeshi Kitano

Run time: 116 minutes

Genre/Subjects: Action/Adventure, Asian

Language: Japanese with English subtitles

In medieval Japan, the blind Zatôichi restores order to a corrupt village. This character has been the center of more than 25 movies as well as many television shows. The film is wild and bloody – and typical of the work of the actor and director also known as Beat Takeshi.

 

7:30 p.m.

Flowing (Nagareru)

(Japan, 1956)

Director: Mikio Naruse

Run time: 120 minutes
Genre/Subjects: Asian, Women's Issues
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
Many times in his career, Naruse looked at the complex of social and economic events and conditions that circumscribe the lives of women. Flowing is about the economic lives of prostitutes, and was made in the same year that Japan made prostitution illegal. And, of course, the film is about women as individual human beings, not a class.

 

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