Shinseidai Cinema Festival Aug 21-23,2009

June 6th, 2009

The Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow and The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre are proud to announce the first Shinsedai Cinema Festival. This August the JCCC’s state of the art 6,500 square foot, 450 seat Kobayashi Hall will host three days of some of the best independent films coming out of Japan today.

Co-programmed by the Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow’s Chris MaGee and Midnight Eye’s Jasper Sharp the line-up will bring together features, shorts, and documentaries from the shinsedai or new generation of Japanese filmmakers who are making waves throughout the world with their insightful, innovative, and irreverent work.

Highlights of the Shinsedai Cinema Festival include the Canadian premieres of Masahide Ichii’s Naked of Defenses, winner of the top prize at the 2008 Pia Film Festival, Yasutomo Chikuma’s documentary drama Now, I…, and critically-acclaimed filmmaker Yuki Tanada’s 2004 comedy Electric Button (Moon & Cherry). Check out the films page at the festival’s official site for the first round of titles in our line-up, and subscribe to our feed so you’ll be the first to get news when we announce our second round of titles.

Check out the official website for the fest here:

We look forward to seeing all of you in August!

All the best,

Chris MaGee

The Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow

Branded to Kill Comments

May 6th, 2009

Thank you to our presenters for their excellent commentary of the readings.

Please post your comments on Suzuki Seijun’s Branded to Kill (1967) here.  I hope you will have noticed the influence of experimental cinema of the kind we watched last week on Suzuki’s film. What elements of experimental or avantgarde cinema do you see in Branded to Kill? What elements surprised or shocked you the most?

Welcome to SILENT J-Cinema

May 6th, 2009

Hello Class!

I have LARYNGITIS  and have been ordered by my doctor to not speak for a couple of days.

So I can’t answer any of your questions today and will not be having office hours this week but please feel free to e-mail me at with 3610D in the subject line and I will respond to you as soon as possible.

Also I have 2 copies of the film Hiroshima, Nagasaki, 1945 for Candice and Kent who turned in proposals about the film. If anyone else is interested in using the film please get a copy from your classmates and return to me next week.

Next week’s class on Anime will probably be the most fun and attendance is mandatory. Your final papers are due next week at the beginning of class. Please make sure you come to class on time, paper in hand! Papers turned into the drop box even on May 13 will considered late. For articles in the course packet, use standard reference format but instead of the book or journal title use (Course Packet). If you have any questions please e-mail me.

Today we’ll be watching Suzuki Seijun’s classic, Branded to Kill. We’ll have our short presentations before the film but instead of discussion I would like you to post comments on the film and reading on the blog after class.

Although made within the studio system, Branded to Kill (1967) is an eccentric and psychosexual take on the gangster genre. Loosely about a hitman who misses his target and becomes the target of the top killer of the mob, the film noir cinematography, avantgarde editing, and fetish for the smell of boiled white rice of the protagonist led to Suzuki’s firing from the Nikkatsu Studios. A movement protesting his firing mobilized the artists, writers and cinephiles of the late sixties.

Thanks for your understanding today and looking forward to your blog comments.


“Japan’s Peace Constitution” (John Junkerman, Dir.; 2005. 78 min.) May 15,2009

May 4th, 2009

A Special Event at the University of Toronto

“Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution:  Bringing Peace into Today’s

Date and Time: 6:30 - 9:30 PM, May 15, 2009

OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, U of T), Room 2212
252 Bloor Street West (St. George Subway)

Event Programme:

- Screening of “Japan’s Peace Constitution”  (John Junkerman,
Dir.; 2005. 78 min.)
Followed by- Short presentations, discussion and Q&A’s with;
Joy Kogawa, Author and recipient of Order of Canada
Peter Kuznick, Professor of History, American University
Satoko Norimatsu, Active member of Vancouver Save Article 9
David McIntosh, Founding member of VSA9 (now in Toronto)

- Songs for Peace and Storytelling “May 15, 1972″
Yusuke Tanaka, Writer

RSVP before May 12 by email to with your name
and number of people attending.

Admission free (Donations toward expenses appreciated)

Light refreshments will be served.

Organized by: Toronto Article 9 Event Committee
(Koko Kikuchi, David McIntosh, Satoko Norimatsu, Tomoe Otsuki, and Yusuke

Co-sponsored by: Department of Sociology and Equity Studies in

Supporting organizations:
Vancouver Save Article 9
Peace Philosophy Centre

More about this Event:
May 2009 marks the 62nd anniversary of the enforcement of the Constitution
of Japan, which includes the war-renouncing clause, Article 9. It reads:
“Aspiring sincerely to an international peace and order, the Japanese
people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the
threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In
order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air
forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The
right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

Japan’s current constitution was adopted after war in Asia and the Pacific
came to an end in August, 1945, after taking the lives of over 20 million
people. While Article 9 stands as a symbolic expression of Japan’s remorse
for its aggressive past, particularly against the neighbouring peoples of
Asia, it has also effectively prevented Japan from resorting to violence
in international disputes for the last 62 years. There has been, however,
constant pressure from successive conservative-led governments to revise
Article 9 and diminish its substance by enacting laws that would allow
dispatch of the SDF (Self Defense Force) to other countries. In the mean
time, a nationwide citizens’ movement has arisen to protect the soul of
the Constitution, Article 9.  Today there are more than 7,000 “Save
Article 9″ organizations across Japan and several outside of Japan.
One of these, Vancouver Save Article 9 was founded in 2005 and now has 200
members strong.

In this event, the first of such nature in Toronto, we will watch John
Junkerman’s acclaimed documentary film, “Japan’s Peace
Constitution,” in which the international significance of Article 9
is discussed by scholars, activists and citizens around the world,
including U.S. media critic Noam Chomsky and Chinese filmmaker Ban
Zhongyi.  After the film, author Joy Kogawa will share her insights about
war, peace and Article 9. Dr. Peter Kuznick will talk about his work of
helping Americans face their past crimes, particularly the use of
atomic-bombs against Japan, and the implication of Article 9 for a
nuclear-free world, with reference to the recent commitment by President
Obama to pursue serious initiatives toward reducing and eventually
eliminating all nuclear weapons in the world.  Satoko Norimatsu and David
McIntosh will moderate the event and also talk about some of the
activities and experiences of the pro-Article 9 movement in Vancouver.

The event date, May 15, happens to be the 37th anniversary of Okinawa’s
reversion to Japan, so we will also discuss the meaning of Article 9 as it
relates to Okinawa.  Okinawa was one of the deadliest battlefields in the
Pacific War and, after the war, became home to 75% of the U.S. military
facilities in Japan.  Yusuke Tanaka will dedicate songs for peace and tell
a story, “May 15, 1972,” to commemorate this milestone.

Experimental Cinema

April 29th, 2009

Today we watched:

Diary of a Shinjuku Thief, dir. Oshima Nagisa, 1968  (excerpt)

My Crushed Right Eye, dir. Matsumoto Toshio, 1968 (3 screen projection)

Great Society, dir. Oe Masanori and Marvin Fishman, 1967 (six screen projection)

Shiki Soku Ze Ku, dir. Matsumoto Toshio, 1974

Screening for Anime Class

April 29th, 2009

I remember we were supposed to give suggestions on what the screening should be for the Anime class.

The other day, I stumbled onto a page listing Ten anime films you should see before you die.

As such, I believe we should screen one of those films (my personal pick leans towards either Ghost in the Shell or Akira).

ANTIMATTER: A Viewpoint on Contemporary Japanese Art

April 27th, 2009

Curator, The Shoto Museum of Art, Shibuya, Tokyo

(L) Solo exhibition by Jiro Takamatsu in 1966
(R) Studio of Nakanishi Natsuyuki in May 2008,
in preparation for his “Chains of Paintings, Forest of Lights” exhibition

ANTIMATTER:  A Viewpoint on Contemporary Japanese Art

Time: Friday, May 1, 6:30 - 8:30 PM
The Japan Foundation, Toronto [Event Hall]
131 Bloor St. W., 2nd Floor
Japanese with English interpretation

Admission: Free
RSVP required: or (416) 966-1600 x 229

In conjunction with <Passage to the Future: Art from a New Generation in Japan>
March10 ~ June 9, 2009 at The Japan Foundation, Toronto.

Introducing works by Japanese artists which light-heartedly present different ways of seeing our world, transforming the objects and landscapes of everyday life.
In the exceedingly hyperactivated environment of Contemporary Japan, we are surrounded by cryptic signs full of characters and edited images. The root of this phenomenon can be traced back to the 1960s when “information” as a concept began to be discussed widely.
By comparing the works of the past and present, the lecture will provide suggestions and ideas on decoding contemporary art.

Screening for April 22

April 21st, 2009

We will be watching Oshima’s Death By Hanging so please concentrate on pp 61-81 of the chapter,”Rituals, Desire, Death.”

Final Paper Assignment

April 15th, 2009

Due in class on May 13, 2009
12-15 pages including bibliography, double-spaced, 12 point font.

Final Paper
Given the readings and class discussions, do an analysis of at least one of the films we have watched in class. You are expected to justify your approach to the film (i.e. audience reception, contextual reading of the film in relation to the historical moment, textual analysis, etc). You may use a combination of several approaches.
You may choose to concentrate on one film or write about a series of films. You may include Japanese films not shown in class, but you must include at least one film shown in class in your discussion. You may find it useful organize your essay around a theme such as landscape, subjectivity or sexuality especially if you are covering more than one film.
You are encouraged to use the reading from the course packet but are also required to do research beyond our class readings. You must use appropriate academic sources and properly cite sources you use. Plagiarism will be dealt with severely.
Follow a recognizable bibliographic method (Chicago Manual of Style, MLA, etc). The York Library homepage offers useful research tips:
All assignments must have your student name and number, and course title and number clearly indicated on the front page. Do not slip assignments under doors. Ensure that you keep hard copies of all submitted work. In case of lost assignments you are responsible for a replacement.
No papers will be accepted after 9am May 18. If you are unable to turn in the essay in class make sure you hand in a copy of the essay in the drop box outside of CFT225 by 9am May 18 and e-mail a copy to with FILM3610 in the subject line.

Paper Proposal (optional) due by April 29, 2009
If you would like me to look at a proposal for your paper please e-mail me a proposal as an MS Word file by April 29. It should be around 500 words (2 pages, double spaced, 12 pt font) plus a preliminary bibliography. The proposal is an opportunity for you to test out your ideas and get feedback from the professor and is designed to help you organize and think through your final paper before your write it. It should discuss the major themes you intend to tackle and reasons why you have chosen certain films and readings (included on the syllabus and from other sources). It should indicate what you intend to write about, any ideas you already have on the subject, and how you intend to go about writing your paper.  Explain why the subject interests you, and try to propose some preliminary questions that you hope to answer through research and analysis. I expect the paper to be related to the class and take up an issue, a writer or a theory that we have dealt with.  You should try to demonstrate to me that you have learnt something from this class, and that you have something original to say about the films you have chosen.

Short Essay Bibliography

March 31st, 2009

I thought I would take it upon myself to post bibliographic info for the readings pertaining to the short essay (gotta love Google)

These are formatted in MLA.

P.S. While doing this I noticed that some (not all) of the readings in the course kit include a photocopy of the source’s copyright page.  Good to know for the future.


Hills, Matt. “Ringing the Changes: Cult Distinctions and Cultural Differences in US Fan’s Readings of Japanese Horror Cinema.” Japanese Horror Cinema. Ed. Jay McRoy. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2005.

Miyao, Daisuke. Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007. (Book contains both Miyao readings)

Bordwell, David. “Our Dream Cinema: Western Historiography and the Japanese Film.” Film Reader 4(1979): 45-62.

Thompson, Kristen, and David Bordwell. “Space and Narrative in the Films of Ozu.” Screen 17.2(1976): 41-73.

Anderson, J.L.. “Spoken Silents in the Japanese Cinema; or, Talking to Pictures: Essaying the Katsuben, Contexturalizing the Texts.” Reframing Japanese Cinema. Ed. Arthur Nolletti, Jr. and David Desser. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1992.