living national film treasures ?

Jonathan M. Hall jmhall at
Mon Jun 23 22:36:00 EDT 2008

Dear KineJapanners.

Earlier in the year, I had the good fortune again to attend a  
katsuben performance by Sawato Midori in Monzen-nakacho, Tokyo.  The  
main feature was von Stronheim's Foolish Wives. After the  
performance, the crowd surged up against Sawato-san and one man  
exclaimed excitedly that Sawato should be covered by the Washington  
Convention (... presumedly because she is an endangered species.)    
This suggestion made me think of Ningen kokuho, or the Japanese  
system of Living National Treasures.  Leaving aside the question of  
whether Sawato is a living national treasure  (I personally think she  
is ...), I began to  wonder  if there ever was a movement to include  
more contemporary arts within the category of National Treasures and   
nominate a Japanese director for the honor of Ningen Kokuho.  I  
suspect Kurosawa would have been the most likely candidate, given the  
late recognition of film arts and his longevity.  As we know, he was  
not so nominated, but I wonder if anyone is aware of an effort to  
broaden the categories ...


Jonathan M. Hall
Japanese Film, Media, and Modern Literature

Visiting Assistant Professor (Spring 2008)
East Asian Languages & Cultures
UC Berkeley

Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature / Film & Media Studies
320 Humanities Instructional Building
UC Irvine, Irvine CA 92697-2651 USA
office: 1-949-824-9778
fax: 1-949-824-1992

Co-Chair, Caucus Coordinating Committee, Society for Cinema and Media  
Co-Chair, Queer Caucus, Society for Cinema and Media Studies

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