Thursday, February 19, 2009

San Francisco Asian American Film Festival to spotlight Kiyoshi Kurosawa

by Chris MaGee

Michael Guillen at Twitch has been getting very excited about the upcoming 27th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, and rightly so. With over 100 feature length and short films from around the globe being programmed this year's SFIAAFF will definitely be the place to be in March for Asian cinema lovers. Of special interest to fans of Japanese film though is a seven film retrospective of the work Kiyoshi Kurosawa highlighted by a screening of his latest award-winning drama "Tokyo Sonata".

I find it really interesting and exciting how much this one film has done to raise Kurosawa's profile in the last year, but also how it is has gotten critics and festival programmers to totally reassess his filmography. Primarily Kurosawa was lumped into the J-Horror genre with films like "Cure", "Kairo (Pulse)" and "Seance", but you only need to look at what the folks at the SFIAAFF have put together for this retrospective to see just how diverse his body of work is.

Only "Kairo" is the only film representing Kurosawa's horror films in the programme while the remainder is made up of mostly his yakuza films from the mid to late 90s like "Eve of the Spider", "The Revenge: A Visit from Fate", "The Revenge: The Scar that Never Fades", and "Serpent's Path". Rounding things out is Kurosawa's surreal take on the Rip Van Winkle story "License to Live", his 23-minute short "Soul Dancing" starring Tadanobu Asano, and of course "Tokyo Sonata".

This year's SFIAAFF runs from March 12th to 22nd with the Kiyoshi Kurosawa retrospective running throughout the fest. For details on screening times check the SFIAAF website here, and to get you folks on the west coast ready here's the Regent Releasing trailer for the film that has transformed Kiyoshi Kurosawa's career, "Tokyo Sonata" followed by this year's SFIAAFF trailer with animation by NOON and music composed by Jack Tung.

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