Flash Forward Panel Discussion

A lot has been going on recentl, which I will be announcing in the next coming weeks. 

To start with, I wanted to let everyone know about an interesting film series being screened online though the Japan Society in New York entitled “Flash Forward: Debut Works and Recent Films by Notable Japanese Directors” that will run from December 3 to 23, 2021. It is co-presented by Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs in conjunction with the Visual Industry Promotion Organization. The series is quite unique in that it presents the work of six filmmakers lesser known in the United States by showing their debut films and then a more recent film. Some of the six are better known than others: Kawase Naomi is well-known in Europe and Suo Masayuki had a hit in the USA with Shall We Dance?. But even Kawase has had little exposure in America. The other four directors are Sakamoto Junji, Shiota Akihiko, Nishikawa Miwa, and Okita Shuichi. Since I’ve had Sakamoto and Shiota come to my classes before—here’s an old report on one of Sakamoto’s visits—and since I’ve known Kawase since her debut, the selection was a bit like a stroll down memory lane. One could argue about the selection (for instance, Suo’s debut is not Fancy Dance, but rather the pink film Abnormal Family), but it is an interesting selection of films.

My contribution to the event was to moderate a panel discussion on the six filmmakers and their twelve films. It was recorded and will be made available online for free viewing. It was my pleasure to discuss the films along with Jasper Sharp (Arrow Films), Junko Yamazaki (UCLA), and my old student Takuya Tsunoda (Columbia). We really had a in-depth discussion, ranging from specifics about the films and filmmakers to broader issues such as the problems of women filmmakers and the state of Japanese cinema from the 1980s to the present. That is one benefit of the series format: even with the same director we can compare the past with the present in filmmaking.

The event features two interesting sidebars: first, the screening of restorations of two films by Yamanaka Sadao, one of Japan’s greatest filmmakers who died during the war at age 28; and second, online screenings of six “Filmmakers on the Rise,” all available for free. The Yamanaka films will only be screened for an in person audience. The Flash Forward films are available online for a fee. 

Here is a link to the panel, which is now online. (I hope they keep it online after the event.)

Here is the trailer for the event:

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