12 April 2011

Nishikata’s Fifth Anniversay and Noburo Ofuji Award Pledge Update

On March 31st, the 5th anniversary of Nishikata Film Review slipped by without any fanfare. I had planned on doing a few special posts in celebration of the occasion, but with the earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku it just did not seem appropriate. I will save those posts for another time, and will instead mark the occasion by reaffirming my pledge to watch and write about as many of the Noburo Ofuji Award winners as possible before the year is out. An update follows below.

I wish to take this time to give my thanks and appreciation to the numerous friends, colleagues and family members who have supported me and Nishikata Film Review. In particular, I have appreciated the kind words and supportive actions of Jasper Sharp and Tom Mes of Midnight Eye, Chris MaGee and everyone at Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow, CDJapan, Jon Jung, Josh Samford and Rufus de Rahm of VCinema, Animations: Creators & Critics, Wildgrounds, Martin Vieillot of  EigaGoGo!, Ben Ettinger of Anipages, Cartoon Brew, Naomi Hocura of Angura!, the guys at Schöner Denken, Maria Roemer and Asian Hot Shots Berlin, Japan Woche Mainz, John Berra, Electric Sheep, Shinsedai FilmFest, Intellect Books, Bettina Lockemann, Ellen Zykmund Painter, Ushka Wakelin, Ari Grief, Jan Caspers, Hiroshi Sagae, Franco Picollo of Sonatine, the Soga family, Aaron Gerow, the Deutsches Filmmuseum Frankfurt am Main library staff, Image Forum, the National Film Center, my former students at Kanagawa University, and others too numerous to mention here. 

Special thanks to Ted Goossen, whose Japanese literature and film class at York University was responsible for my going to Japan in the first place.

My kids discovering the work of Tomoyasu Murata on Hongo Dori (November 2006)
Many artists/artists’ representatives have been generous to me by sending me samples of their work or answering questions in person or by e-mail. Thanks in particular to Tomoyasu Murata and his staff, Akino Kondoh, CALF (Nobuaki Doi, Atsushi Wada, Mirai Mizue, Kei Oyama, Tochka), Aico Kitamura, Maya Yonesho, Shiho Hirayama, Anido, Geneon Universal, Ufer, Robot, Hiroko Namba of Digista (NHK), Jeff Chiba Stearns, and Keiichi Hara.

An extra-special thanks to the folks at Nippon Connection – organizers (esp. Marion Klomfass, Alex Zahlten, Petra Palmer, Dennis Vetter & Gary Siemund), guests, and audience members – for their support of Nishikata Film Review since my family and I moved to Germany in 2007. The wonderful films that are shown at the festival every year have inspired me to continue my research into alternative animation from Japan. I am especially proud to have been invited as a guest this year.  I look forward to seeing everyone soon!
Noburo Ofuji's Mura Matsuri (1930)

When I wrote about the Noburo Ofuji Award in December, I made a pledge to review all the winning films during 2011. I must admit that I have a little bit of a head start on this because most of the films are already in my DVD collection. Also, during the past few years I have already reviewed: Koji Yamamura’s adaptation of Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor (2007), Masaaki Yuasa’s Mind Game (2004), Kihachiro Kawamoto’s Briar Rose or the Sleeping Beauty (1990), Tadanari Okamoto’s The Magic Ballad (1982), Makoto Wada’s Murder (1964), Yoji Kuri’s Chair (1965) and Hayao Miyazaki’s films Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979) and My Neighbour Totoro (1988). In February, I wrote about the most recent winner: Hideto Nakata/Sovat Theatre’s Elemi (2009) and my most recent Ofuji review was of Isao Takahata’s Gauche, the Cellist (1982).

In the coming months, I will delve into my collections of the complete works of Osamu Tezuka, Yoji Kuri, Taku Furukawa, Tadanari Okamoto, and Kihachiro Kawamoto and save works that I need to acquire like The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon (1963), The Ugly Duckling (1968), The Kindly Lion (1969) until later in the year. A few of the films will be difficult to come by, such as N&G Production’s Rusuban (1996), Video Tokyo’s Tenma no Torayan (1971), and Tatsuo Shirogumi’s independent shorts (1998).

It is rather optimistic of me to pledge to watch all of the Noburo Ofuji prize winners in the coming year as I know it is unlikely that I will be able to see them all. Hayao Miyazaki’s The Whale Hunt (2001), for example, may be impossible unless I am lucky enough to visit Tokyo this year. I believe it only plays at the Ghibli Museum. I will do my best. . . and perhaps throw in a few more reviews of the work of Noburo Ofuji (大藤 信郎, 1900-61) himself, whose innovative films have been so inspirational for so many.

Tadanari Okamoto Zensakuhin Shu / Animation

© Catherine Munroe Hotes 2011