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Japanese film is inspiration for foreign directors

Nov. 8, 2007

KALAMAZOO--"Sansho the Bailiff," directed by Kenji Mizoguchi, is the next feature at the Japanese Film Classics series to be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, in 3502 Knauss Hall at Western Michigan University.

The 1954 film is the third of four in the series. The last film to be shown in the series will be "Sword of Doom," directed by Kihachi Okamoto, on Tuesday, Dec. 4. All films in the series are open to the public free of charge.

"Sansho the Bailiff" is the earliest of the films in the series. This heart-wrenching story of a medieval Japanese family separated and sold into slavery was immediately recognized as a masterpiece when shown at the Venice Film Festival. Mizoguchi's intensely personal style and close camera shots gives the film a sense of poignancy and directness that has inspired many Japanese and European directors throughout subsequent decades.

Japan has produced several of most important and visionary directors in the history of cinematography, including the directors sometimes labeled "The Great Three," Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizoguchi and Yasujiro Ozu. The work of these and other Japanese directors of the 1950s and 1960s earned a tremendous amount of attention from the international film community and put Japan on the map as a major center of film culture.

Each film in the series has been chosen to represent the work of one of the epoch-making directors.

Japanese Film Classics is presented by WMU's Soga Japan Center and Department of Foreign Languages. The series is organized by Dr. Jeffrey Angles, assistant professor of Japanese literature and language, who earlier this year worked with the Criterion Collection to provide the audio commentary for the first American DVD release of the film "Sansho the Bailiff." Through his work on "Sansho," Angles arranged for public screenings of the films at WMU, with Janus Films and the Criterion Collection, which hold the rights for all the films in the series.

For more information, contact Dr. Jeffrey Angles at jeffrey.angles@wmich.edu or (269) 387-3044.

Media contact: Deanne Molinari, (269) 387-8400, deanne.molinari@wmich.edu

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