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1. Banzai for low Budgets & Internationalisation: creative Solutions in Contemporary Japanese Cinema
door Luk van Haute

If by Japanese cinema we mean “films made by Japanese in which there are Japanese on the screen speaking Japanese,” then does Japanese cinema actually exist? Veteran director OSHIMA Nagisa posed this question in 1992, in an essay called Perspectives on the Japanese Film. In the year 2005 it has become all the harder to answer it affirmatively. Just like with Japanese society as a whole, people insisting on talking about ‘Japanese cinema’ as if it were some homogeneous concept with common characteristics, would have serious trouble defending what exactly those common characteristics might be, especially thematically and stylistically. For each example, one could give an example of the contrary. more

2. Japanese Film, Producer’s Medium
door Tom Mes

Blame it on the auteur theory, but the balance of chronicled Japanese film history has long been firmly tipped in favour of the director. However, just as that paragon of director-led filmmaking called the French Nouvelle Vague needed a Georges de Beauregard to get its projects off the ground, so does the history of Japanese film – and not in the least that of the past fifteen years or so demonstrate a crucial role for producers. more

3. West Views East
door Ivo Smits

The recent success of Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2004) suggests that Japan in film still is a place where we as Westerners are confronted with ourselves. Her film does not claim to be “about Japan,” and to take it as such would be a mistake. It is a beautiful study of two Americans lost in an alien world that, by its very exclusive strangeness, brings them together for an intimacy that is as erotic as it is platonic. For that, the film might just as well been set on Mars (or Venus). A cruder version of this pattern is provided by Edward Zwick’s The Last Samurai (2003), in which the nineteenth-century hero played by Tom Cruise redeems himself by siding with samurai fighting to retain a traditional way of life. Cruise’s character had lost himself when he participated in massacring Native Americans; now ‘samurai’ became a substitute for Indians, giving him a second chance. Japan is explained in this film only to provide a backdrop that will give relief to what occupies the mind and eyes of the Western protagonist. more

4. Korean Cinema’s Relationship with Japanese Film: Moving Images Back and Forth.
door Roald Maliangkay

In recent years, it has become possible again to relate and compare the Korean and the Japanese film industries. Even though both took shape at the time of the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945), trade in and public display of Japanese pop culture was ruled illegal on either side of Korea’s 38th parallel in 1945. From 1945 to 1998, when the South Korean government decided to loosen their ban on Japanese pop culture, South Koreans could always gain access to Japanese films abroad, but after stringent censorship was implemented in the 1960s they did not have much influence. Korean filmmakers produced a number of interesting films, but financial difficulties and censorship for many years thwarted the free expression of ideas, and self-censorship remained an issue even after the censorship became less stringent in the 1990s. more