Friday, October 29, 2010

Shohei Imamura's Japan Academy of Moving Images morphs into the Nippon Eiga Daigaku

by Chris MaGee

The work of director Shohei Imamura has undoubtedly had an immense impact on filmmakers and film lovers the world over. Such seminal films as "The Insect Woman", "The Profound Desire of the Gods" and "Intentions of Murder" have been repeatedly named as some of the best Japanese films in history, and Imamura is one of the few directors who have been honoured twice with the Cannes Film Festival's Palm d'Or - once in 1983 for "The Ballad of Narayama" and then for a second time in 1997 for "The Eel". Imamura's legacy isn't just limited to his films though, but also to his desire to foster young filmmaking talent. It was with this in mind that he founded the Japan Academy of Moving Images, an institution that has given us a slew of talented filmmakers in the past 30 plus years, but now the school is metamorphosing into a truly historic institution.

It was recently announced that the Japan Academy of Moving Images is changing its name to the Nippon Eiga Daigaku, and it is being heralded as the "first film university in Japan". Previously many post-secondary institutions (Osaka University of Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts to name only two) have offered film programs, but Nippon Eiga Daigaku will be the first degree-granting institution dedicated entirely to film studies. According to the university's website both Japanese and international students have until the end of 2010 to apply to be considered for one of the 140 spots available when Nippon Eiga Daigaku opens its doors in April of next year.

Shohei Imamura founded the Japan Academy of Moving Images at Yokohama's Vocational School of Broadcast and Film in 1975. Not only have such prestigious names as film critic and historian Tadao Sato, Shiro Sasaki, producer of such films as Yoshimitsu Morita's "The Family Game" and Shuji Terayama's "Farewell to the Ark", and Toshiro Ishido, screenwriter of Nagisa Oshima's "Night and Fog in Japan and Imamura's "Black Rain", held teaching and administrative positions at the school, but many of today's most successful directors are graduates. These include Takashi Miike (Audition, 13 Assassins), Katsuyuki Motohiro (Bayside Shakedown) and Sang-Il Lee (Hula Girls, Scrap Heaven). In 1986 the Japan Academy of Moving Images expanded to include a second location in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Its this second facility as well as a newly constructed building that will house the Nippon Eiga Daigaku. We can only imagine what new filmmaking talents will come from this renewed institution.

Our thanks to Cinema Today for this great news.

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