Film School · Classic Japanese Cinema
Building on the success of last year’s 50th-anniversary celebration of the French New Wave, the Calgary Cinematheque is pleased to announce its newest season of Film School, this year highlighting the seminal works of Post-War Japanese Cinema. Weathered masters like Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, and Kenji Mizoguchi honed in and polished their signature styles while newcomers like Nagisa Oshima forged new themes and practices that directly challenged existing traditions. Be it through innovation, poetry, fantasy, meditation, action, or revolt—the resulting strand of films all but forecast the best of Japanese filmmaking for decades to come.
Beyond the opportunity to screen some of cinema’s greatest accomplishments, Film School is a unique and valuable chance to learn about what's going on behind the scenes—both technically and contextually. Each month, one film is screened twice: first on Tuesday night, then again at Noon the following Saturday. The repeat screening is accompanied by a guest speaker who introduces the film (with an informative look at the director, the film’s context, and its artistic merit) then hosts a discussion to explore ideas audience members may have developed during the screening. Talking with fellow cinephiles is certainly one of the most rewarding elements of theatrical moviegoing, so the Cinematheque is proud to play host to such consideration of cinema as an art form.
Brimming with action while incisively examining the nature of truth, Rashomon is perhaps the finest film ever made about the philosophy of justice. Through an ingenious use of camera and flashbacks, Akira Kurosawa reveals the complexities of human nature as four people recount different versions of the same story: the murder of a man and the rape of his wife.w/ 'Film School' lecture & discussion
Kurosawa returned two years after Rashomon with his caring and poignant rendition of personal struggle to find meaning in life. The sad protagonist in Ikiru (1952) is "an aging widower, a petty government official who has done nothing but shuffle papers and pass the buck for thirty years." (Crowther, 1960) Struck with cancer, the man determines to redeem himself for his past inaction by wholeheartedly …w/ 'Film School' lecture & discussion
Even Kurosawa looked up to Kenji Mizoguchi. Born in 1898, Mizoguchi was already experienced in directing by the time the War was over, and was heralded by Cahiers du cinéma writers like André Bazin and Jacques Rivette because of his expert usage of objective-reality-championing long-takes and mise-en-scène. He had previously perfected his (self-explanatory) shooting style: 'one shot – one scene,' …w/ 'Film School' lecture & discussion
This remains one of the most approachable and moving of all cinema's masterpieces.Wally Hammond, 2010, Time Out London
Of all the Japan-born directors of the Post-War period, Yasujiro Ozu is most often cited as having the most 'Japanese' style. In truth, this actually held back his films from being released in the Western world, since distributors were afraid his work would be too poorly received. …w/ 'Film School' lecture & discussion
Quite the change of pace, Kurosawa's Seven Samurai harnessed the action genre like no-one in 1954 had before. By alternating between multiple cameras, and casting Toshiro Mifune as the comical seventh samurai, the pacing is fresh, rapid, and involving—despite the 207-minute runtime. As the largest Japanese production of its day, Kurosawa was able to exploit vast custom built sets (like a purpose-built …w/ 'Film School' lecture & discussion
There are few color prints being shown in our first-run theaters that are as rich as this one.Vincent Canby, 1984, New York Times
Last in the series—and least only in age—is Nagisa Oshima: the audacious youngster who pushed the formal and social limits of existing Japanese cinema to the point of utter rejection. He challenged audiences with attacks on every kind of zeitgeist, rebelled …w/ 'Film School' lecture & discussion