Tamura in Chicago

Abe-Nornes amnornes
Thu Jan 7 17:17:16 EST 1999


I am writing to inform you about a unique film retrospective organized by
Japanese Cinema Workshop at the University of Chicago that features the
cinematographer Masaki Tamura (1939-). The series runs at Doc Films on
Sundays from January 10 to March 7.  Many of these films are not available
in the US but are extremely important in the history of Japanese film and
very interesting in themselves.  We are also lucky enough to have Mr.
Tamura come to introduce one film in the series, and give a talk with
Professor Tom Gunning to be followed by screening of yet another film that
couldn't be included in the series.  Finally, there will be a symposium in
conjunction with the series that will feature two well-known documentary
filmmakers and several scholars.  The focus of the symposium will be
political activism through documentary film.  We hope that you will
consider writing or assigning an article about these events.

Our series focuses on a cinematographer rather than a director or genre
because Mr. Tamura's career intersects with many
important trends in recent Japanese film.  First, Tamura started his career
as a cinematographer by collaborating with Shinsuke Ogawa,  arguably the
greatest documentary filmmaker in Japanese history.  The ten films Tamura
made with him are Ogawa's best-known works. Since Ogawa's films have rarely
been shown in the US, it will be a great achievement and honor to be able
to introduce three of his films to the Chicago audience.  Our series begins
with the three most important of these films.

Second, since the early 1970s, young independent film directors in Japan,
moved by Tamura's cinematography in Ogawa's films, began asking Tamura to
work with them. His work with young directors, especially since the
mid-1990s, has spawned a number of compelling and highly-acclaimed films,
notably the 1997 Cannes prize winner, Naomi Kawase's Suzaku (1997), and
Shinji Aoyama's controversial Helpless (1996). Tamura's filmography itself,
therefore, and not simply his association with Ogawa Productions, has
garnered him an unparalleled reputation among critics and fans of
Japanese film.

Our primary goal is to present Japanese films which have seldom been
screened in the US.  Further, by presenting the lifework of a
cinematographer, we hope to shed light on less understood facets of
contemporary Japanese film such as the aesthetics of camerawork, the roles
of production team members, the dynamics of the industry, and more.
Ogawa's films often address the relation between nature, modernization, and
human life in Japan, and subsequent directors working with Tamura have
likewise consciously investigated similar themes.   American audiences will
find these themes recognizable and compelling.

Information about related events follows the description of the series below.
Film Series:
Japanese Cinema After the Economic Miracle: A Retrospective of Masaki
Tamura, Cinematographer

Sundays, 7:00 p.m.
January 10-March 7, 1999
At DOC Films, UC Max Pavlesky Theater, Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 East 59th Street
Tickets $3.  Street parking available.

1/10/99 Narita: The Peasants of the Second Fortress (Shinsuke Ogawa, 1971)
1/17/99 Narita: Heta Village (Shinsuke Ogawa, 1973)
1/24/99 A Japanese Village, Furuyashikimura (Shinsuke Ogawa, 1982)
1/31/99 The Assassination of Ryoma (Kazuo Kuroki, 1974)
2/7/99  Farewell to the Land (Mitsuo Yanagimachi, 1982)
2/14/99 Untamagiru (Tsuyoshi Takamine, 1989)
2/21/99 Helpless (Shinji Aoyama, 1996)
2/28/99 Duo (Nobuhiko Suwa, 1997), with a brief introduction by Masaki Tamura
3/7/99  Suzaku (Naomi Kawase, 1997)

Related Events:
1) A Conversation with Cinematographer Masaki Tamura and Professor Tom Gunning
6:30 to 10:00 p.m., February 26, Friday
University of Chicago, Cobb Hall, Room 307 5811 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago IL 60637
Followed by a screening of the acclaimed film, Himatsuri (Fire Festival).

2) Symposium: The Activist Camera: Class, Sexuality, Ethnicity in Films of
February 26-27.
Featuring Nakata Toichi, director of Osaka Story, and Barbara Hammer,
director of many documentaries of gay and lesbian life, including Nitrate
Kisses.  These two films will be screened in the morning, followed by a
panel discussion in the afternoon.  Please see the website [being revised]
or contact me [Chris Perrius, capperiu at midway.uchicago.edu]
for detailed information.


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