The Japan Cultural Institute in Paris
French film connoisseurs often say "Japanese Cinema is still an unknown continent." Among a variety of programs presented by the Japan Cultural Institute in Paris (Maison de la culture du Japon a Paris (MCJP)), the screening of Japanese films is always one of the most popular program. From summer to autumn in 2010, MCJP offered retrospectives of three Japanese film directors.
Started in July was a tribute to Sadao Yamanaka (1909-1938), whose career as a leading filmmaker in the pre-war Japanwas cut short by his premature death. Thanks to the Festival Paris Cinema, MCJP was offered an opportunity to show all of his three existent films: Tange Sazen and the Pot of One Million Ryo, Kochiyama Soshun, and Humanity and Papers Balloons. Each screening attracted a wide audience, young and old, that filled almost the seats.
The program for September was the complete film screening of Kohei Oguri first ever held in France. We invited Mr. Oguri, one of the most prominent Japanese directors today, to Paris for this occasion, and he had public discussions with Antoine Barraud, the director of The Forest of Dreams, a documentary film of interviews with Mr. Oguri. The film was also shown during the event. With many relevant events including commentary and talk sessions by French critics, this program received favorable reviews from the French media for promoting the understanding of the art and story of Oguri's films.
Our regular program, the Unknown Masters of Japanese Film, featured Yasujiro Shimazu (1897-1945) in October. It was also the first retrospective of the director in France. A famous film magazine Cahier du cinema run an article entitled "Discover Shimazu" that praised the modernity in his films. Moreover, for this retrospective, his grandson Mr. Yoichi Kankura sent us a letter stating "if his works have found common grounds with all of you and the people of today, then surely Yasujiro and his children up in heaven are happy that it has touched many". At the screening of Okoto and Sasuke, a film based on Junichiro Tanizaki's Shunkinsho (A portrait of Shunkin), we could feel that the audience was following the story of the leading characters with breathless interest. Some of the viewers commented that a literary novel of high caliber has the borderless charm.
In November at the contemporary Japanese film festival KINOTAYO, we had a successful screening of The Last Ronin as the world premier prior to the release in both Japan and the United States in December.
MCJP will keep introducing new, old, and unknown Japanese films to French film connoisseurs to let them explore this treasury of great films and great directors.