Rising Suns of Japanese Cinema come to Sana’a [Archives:2007/1029/Local News]

March 1 2007

SANA'A, Feb. 26 ) The Embassy of Japan, with the support of the French Cultural Centre, inaugurated the second Japanese Film Festival in Sana'a. Continuing for three days and showing a total of six films, the festival offered the predominantly Yemeni audience a valuable and fascinating insight into various aspects of modern Japanese society.

The event was opened by the Deputy Japanese Ambassador, Matahiro Yamaguchi, who said that the Japanese Embassy was glad to be able to contribute to the diversity of cultural events available in Sana'a, further asserting that such knowledge and understanding of other cultures is one of the very bases of civilization itself. Shown in their original Japanese with Arabic subtitles, the audience were regaled with a diverse display of Japanese cinema, ranging from the chilling contribution of Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa with his horror film 'Pulse'(2001), to the moving animation classic 'Tombstone for Fireflies'(Hotaru No Haka) (1988) from Studio Ghibli and directed by Isao Takahata.

With most foreign films available in Yemen hailing from within the Arab world or from the two warring moguls of modern cinema that are Hollywood and Bollywood, the festival was a rare glimpse into a booming film industry gaining increasingly international acclaim. The 1950s have been considered the zenith of Japanese cinema, with the release of such films as 'Seven Samurai' and Akira Kurosawa's 'Rashomon'. More recently, the 2001 Hayao Miyazaki classic 'Spirited Away' catapulted Japanese animation, the cinematic style for which the country is perhaps best known today, once again onto the global scene, earning itself a US Academy Award for Best Animation Feature.

Speaking to Yemen Times, Terumi Yamazaki, Cultural Attache to the Japanese Embassy in Sana'a, noted the difficulty in finding Japanese movies with Arabic subtitles, informing us that films included in the festival were kindly provided by the Japan Foundation, a semi-governmental agency, from their archive in Cairo, Egypt. The efforts of all involved, particularly the Japanese Embassy and the staff of the French Cultural Centre, were, however, appreciated by all for providing a fascinating insight into such a culturally-rich nation as Japan.