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ISSUE 119 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/24/2006

Grant brings Japanese films

By Andrea Horbinski
Opinion Editor

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Midwest Japanese Film Festival is taking place in Northfield every Tuesday this month at the South Gate Cinema.

The festival is being sponsored by a variety of St. Olaf College organizations, including the Asian Studies Department, Interdisciplinary and General Studies (IGS), Luce, Community Life and Diversity (CLD) and Multicultural Affairs and Community Outreach (MACO).

Each film begins at 7 p.m. and is free of charge and open to the general public as well as St. Olaf and Carleton community members.

The festival has been sponsored by a grant from the Japan Foundation, which is supported by the Japanese government with the aims of promoting Japanese language and culture in the United States. The foundation's New York branch sponsors yearly film festivals in the Midwest and the South and provides the films that will be shown.

Rika Ito, assistant professor of Japanese and Asian studies, submitted an application to host the festival because, she said, "it’s free."

However, since St. Olaf does not have a 35mm projector, the festival wound up costing money for the South Gate cinema and the transportation to it. These costs were picked up by CLD and MACO.

But, according to Ito, the fact that the festival could not be held on campus "turned out to be better" because local resident, rather than thinking that it is “just a college event,” have made up about 50 percent of the audience so far. The festival has been promoted with posters around Northfield as well as on both college campuses.

The four films in the festival were all made in Japan since 2000. The first film, "Go," was directed by Isao Yusikada, and is based on the book of the same title by Kazuki Kaneshiro.

On Valentine’s Day, the festival showed "Dare mo Shiranai [Nobody Knows]," directed by Hirokazu Koreieda. This film starred Yuuya Yagira, who, at 12 years old, was the youngest person ever to win best actor at the Cannes Film Festival.

"Akarui Mirai [Bright Future]" was shown Tuesday. Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, the movie tells the story of two young men working in a moist towel factory and attempting to deal both with their inexplicable rage and their strange pet jellyfish.

The final film, "Kao [Face]," will be shown Feb. 28. "Face," directed by Juunji Sakamoto, stars Naomi Fujiyama

The festival organizers provide a bus to the South Gate Cinema. It leaves Buntrock Commons at 6:30 p.m. and Carleton’s Sayles Hall at 6:45 p.m. and drops riders back off after the film.

Ito provides a short introduction to each movie and asks attendees to respond to a short evaluation sheet which can be found online via the St. Olaf homepage.

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