Japanese governmental agencies/film culture promotional policies

Mark D. Roberts mroberts37
Fri Sep 5 00:01:48 EDT 2008


I've been hoping you would weigh in on this.

On Sep 5, 2008, at 10:33 AM, Aaron Gerow wrote:
> The calls some have made on the list for the government to do  
> something are not quite on the mark because the government has been  
> doing things. The Agency for Cultural Affairs, especially when  
> Terawaki Ken was there (and Saeki-san is still there, by the way;  
> Aoki Tamotsu, the current chokan, is also not unsympathetic to  
> film), was engaged in a number of projects. The Film Center has been  
> the clearing house for several of these, which include promoting  
> subtitling and preservation.

Sounds good, but to what extent are these film promotion policies  
aimed at helping researchers? Do you think there's value in doing  
that? Do you see any link between that and the life/death of film  

I ask because, to be blunt, I don't really see strong evidence that  
research on film is supported by government policy. Consumption as  
high-brow entertainment, yes. As an object of research, no. For  
example, when I last inquired at the NFC, I was told: there is no  
facility for screening films without paying for a dedicated  
projectionist (way out of most budgets), there's nothing available on  
DVD/VHS for viewing, that all films must be ordered one month in  
advance so they can be trucked in from a storage facility in the  
countryside. At every raised eyebrow the response seemed to be "sorry,  
we don't have funds for that". The library has closed stacks, browsing  
is impossible, they lack a number of European and American journals  
that I'd expect to find in any serious film library, they want to  
examine my passport or gaijin card every time I ask to make  
photocopies, they restrict what I am allowed to bring into the reading  
area, etc. They've thrown up so many barriers to access, it's not  
surprising that the library is always nearly empty.

The NFC has a great retrospective program, but at this point it barely  
enters my consciousness as a research resource. It seems more like a  
vault, a kind of Fort Knox of film history. If I want to see films on  
demand, I look at Tsutaya and cross my fingers. If I want books, I go  
to other libraries. I hope the NFC has changes its policies since last  
I inquired, but this is the sort of thing that makes me wonder if the  
Japanese government has really "got it" when it comes to promoting  
film culture.

W.r.t. your thoughts about the economic bias in current policies on  
the "content industry", I've scanned all of my KineJapan e-mail but  
cannot locate the posts you mentioned (perhaps from before I joined).  
Could I trouble you to point me at any articles you've written on this?



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