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September 29, 2023

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Japan Foundation Film Festival features films from World War II

Many have heard the American side of World War II, but not many know the struggle of the Japanese before, during and after the war.

Satomi Saito, assistant professor in Japanese Studies, along with the Japan Foundation, brought the 2013 Japanese Foundation Film Festival here to the University.

The Japan Foundation is a public institution focused on sharing Japanese culture with the world.

“The Japanese Foundation provided all the support for the film copyrights and transportation,” Saito said.

He said the only thing left to fund was the projectionist, which was funded by the Asian Studies Program.

The festival features three films from director Keisuke Kinoshita that revolve around World War II and how it affected Japanese citizens before, during and after the war.

Saito said there were originally four proposed films for this festival but the fourth film was in wide screen cinematoscope format, which could not be handled by the projector.

Akiko Jones, Director of Asian Studies at the University, said this film series would go well alongside the Japanese Film class being offered by the University, which is taught by Saito.

Rebecca Finney, a sophomore Asian Studies major who is in the Japanese Film class, went for the “experience” and that seeing these films is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.

The first film “The Army” let the viewer explore World War II through the eyes of a soldier’s mother.

The idea of an emotional Japanese mother having to send her son off to fight is not the typical way Japanese culture is portrayed, Saito said.

This satirical look at Japan’s military and sympathetic look at Japanese mothers is why Kinoshita was known for his exceptional representation of Japanese emotion, Saito said.

Jones believes films give proper exposure to Japanese culture and history.

“The students here are not exposed to culture like Chicago or New York where you can just step out and you will be able to get a lot of access to Japanese culture,” Jones explained. “I try to get some other things … [like] access to the Asian cultures.”

The film festival finishes its run with the film “Tragedy of Japan” which takes place after the war. The screening is on Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Gish Film Theater and is free and open to the public.

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