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Japanese Film Classics debuts Thursday

Sept. 15, 2007

KALAMAZOO--"High and Low," from famed director Akira Kurosawa, opens the new Japanese Film Classics series at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, in 1120 Schneider Hall at Western Michigan University. All films in the series are open to the public free of charge.

Kurosawa is best known for his swashbuckling samurai classics. "High and Low," released in 1963, is a film noir set in contemporary Japan and presents a less well-known side of the famous director's work. In his commentary written for the Criterion Collection, the essayist Chuck Stephens called this film "a thriller flush with needle-spiking tensions and bullet-train exhilarations."

Toshiro Mifune stars as a wealthy industrialist whose family becomes the target of a ruthless kidnapper. Based an Ed McBain novel, "High and Low" is both a riveting thriller and a brilliant commentary on contemporary Japanese society.

"High and Low" ("Tengoku to Jigoku") is presented in Japanese with English subtitles. It is not rated and has a run time of 143 minutes.

Fall 2007 Japanese Film Classics

Thursday, Sept. 20 -- "High and Low," directed by Akira Kurosawa
Thursday, Oct. 25 -- "Kwaidan," (Ghost Stories), directed by Masaki Kobayashi
Thursday, Nov. 15 -- "Sansho the Bailiff," directed by Kenji Mizoguchi
Tuesday, Dec. 4 -- "Sword of Doom," directed by Kihachi Okamoto

All films begin at 7 p.m. and will be shown 1120 Schneider Hall.

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: Thom Myers, (269) 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

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