Since its beginning the Shinsedai Cinema Festival has been about changing the way audiences see Japanese film by introducing the work of Japan's emerging independent filmmakers; but in order to look to the future of Japanese film it's also important to understand its past. Now the Shinsedai Cinema Festival is offering you a unique opportunity to do just that.

Starting on February 5th and continuing for seven consecutive Tuesday evenings Shinsedai Cinema Festival co-founder and Festival Director Chris MaGee will be giving a series of 2-hour lectures on the University of Toronto campus which will trace the history of Japanese film. Starting from the very beginnings of motion pictures in Japan to the most recent film innovations, Japanese Film: 1897 to Today, is an exciting and involving look at the key films and major cinematic movements in the context of the past century of Japanese history.

Enrollment for this don't miss opportunity is now open, but space is limited so act quickly to secure your spot for the lectures of your choice, or all seven lectures at a special discount. *Please note that these lectures are non-credit and strictly for personal interest.

About Chris MaGee - Shinsedai Cinema Festival Director

Chris MaGee has spent the better part of the past decade writing about, programming and promoting Japanese film locally in Toronto, as well as across Canada and in Europe. Chris is the founder and editor of The J-Film Pow-Wow, the premiere Japanese film blog in Canada, plus he has guest curated programmes of Japanese films at The CanAsian International Dance Festival, Vancouver’s Pacific Cinematheque, and at the Nippon Connection Japanese Film Festival in Frankfurt am Main, Germany (where he also served on the 2012 Nippon Visions Jury). He also edited, World Film Locations: Tokyo, published in December of 2011 by Intellect Books.


Japanese Film: 1897 to Today A special 7-week lecture series

When: Between February 5th and March 19th, Tuesday evenings, 7:00PM to 9:00PM
Where: Bahen Centre, Room B025, 40 St. George Street (behind the University of Toronto Bookstore)
Cost: $12 per lecture ($9 for students & seniors) or all seven lectures for $75 ($56 for students and seniors)

Specific Dates:

February 5th - The Beginnings & The Silent Era: 1897 to the 1920’s
The first motion picture technology made its way to Japan from Lyon, France in 1897. The first week of our course traces this wondrous new technology from its first exhibitions in modernity-obsessed Meiji Era Japan through its spread helped by a series of Japanese entrepreneurs and finally to the very first film directors, superstar actors, actresses and the founding of the Nikkatsu and Shochiku Studios. We will also focus on the role of the benshi narrator in the early decades of the Japanese movie-going experience.

February 12th - Talkies, Early Masters & WW2: The 1930’s & 40’s
The 1930’s saw the death of silent films and the revolution of sound film takeover. It also saw the careers of such Japanese film luminaries as Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu and Mikio Naruse begin. The 1930’s also saw a group of filmmakers such as Sadao Yamanaka, Heinosuke Gosho, Masahiro Makino and others create what would amount to the first golden age of Japanese film. The 1930’s would also see the rise of militarism in Japan. For our second week we will look at how directors tried successfully and unsuccessfully to survive the years of WW2, the orders to create propaganda films and then the years of censorship under the post-war U.S. Occupation.

February 19th - Rashomon & The Golden Age: The 1950's
At the 1951 Venice Film Festival Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon was awarded the coveted Golden Lion. This win famously “introduced Japanese film to the world” and ushered in a decade that saw the production of some of the most iconic films in Japanese cinema history. Week 3 will dedicated to such master filmmakers as Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, Hiroshi Inagaki, Keisuke Kinoshita, Mikio Naruse, etc. and also take a look at films and filmmakers that laid the groundwork for the New Wave of the 1960’s. Special attention will be given to such post-war films as Twenty-Four Eyes and Godzilla.

February 26th - Slashing Swords, Giant Monsters & The New Wave: The 1960's
Globally the 1960’s were the decade of revolution and Japan wasn’t spared. On the one hand there was the overwhelming outcry against the ANPO Treaty and the student protests on the nation’s campuses, on the other hand there was the Great Economic Miracle, the Shinkansen bullet train going into operation, and the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. All these events influenced the films of the 60’s, but the biggest influence, and threat, to the Japanese film industry during the 60’s was television. Week 4 will explore how the major studios produced everything from yakuza and ninja films to monster movies to keep people in theatres, plus how a group of brilliant and outspoken filmmakers broke with the studio system to forge an exciting New Wave.

March 5th - Revolutionary Visions & The Anime Boom: The 1970's & 80's
The 1970’s and early 1980’s saw the greatest slump in the Japanese film industry up to that time. Week 5 will look at how such major studios as Nikkatsu, Shochiku, Toho and Daiei tried to survive these tough times. A special focus will be put on Shochiku’s long running Tora-san series, Daiei/ Kadokawa’s Zatoichi series and Nikkatsu’s roman porno films and the rise of V-Cinema and the VHS rental market. Not all was doom and gloom during these two decades though. The 5th week of the course will also explore the films of the independent Art Theater Guild, a sampling of experimental works and the rise of anime to global recognition.

March 12th - Thugs, Ghost Girls and the Lost Decade: The 1990's
The 1990's spelled the end of the party for Japan. The Bubble Economy burst and the Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system traumatized the nation. Week 6 covers how these key events shaped the films of the 90's and paved the way for an explosion of national and international success for Japanese films by such directors as Takeshi Kitano, Hirokazu Koreeda, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Shinya Tsukamoto. We’ll also take a special look at the burgeoning indie film scene that produced some of today’s brightest filmmaking talents.

March 19th - Millennium Dreams and Japan Post-3/11: 2000 to Today
In the first decade of the new century Japanese film gained new levels of worldwide success via J-Horror and Asian Extreme films. For our last week of in class discussion we’ll look at the rise and fall of this cinematic phenomena, as well as a brand new generation of young filmmakers who are currently generating huge buzz in the Japanese film scene. A special emphasis will also be put on the impact of the March 3rd, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster.


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