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Memory, Creativity and Observation-Director Hirokazu Kore-eda Retrospective co-hosted by Waseda and UCLA in Los Angeles

Hirokazu Kore-eda Retrospective: Cinema from the Outside In


Memory, creativity and observation.

For Japanese film director and Waseda University Professor, Hirokazu Kore-eda, how these three elements are balanced is important when it comes to producing films. Professor Kore-eda explained to an audience attending a retrospective of his films that in all his works, he is conscious not to portray any particular character as the “bad guy” and not to judge them from an omniscient point of view, aiming to pose questions at the end for reflection.

The event, which took place for five days starting October 25 at venues across Los Angeles, was a series of film screenings mostly followed by Q&A sessions with Professor Kore-eda in attendance. It was presented by the Yanai Initiative at Waseda University and UCLA, which was established to globalize Japanese Humanities with personal donations of Waseda alumnus Tadashi Yanai, Chairman and CEO of Fast Retailing. The Initiative’s activities are part of Waseda’s Global Japanese Studies Unit, under the Top Global University Project supported by the Ministry of Education , Culture, Sports, Science , and Technology.

G・ルーカス ビル内にあるレイ・スターク劇場@USC

The Ray Stark Family Theatre in George Lucas [email protected]

The first two days of the event were mainly held in a building at the University of Southern California (USC) named after its graduate and film director, George Lucas. In an enthusiastic, two-hour lecture with about 25 doctoral students and scholars, aspiring filmmakers asked Director Kore-eda technical questions about his editing techniques, along with questions regarding the theme of his works and how he illustrates that. This lecture was preceded by the evening screening on “Nobody Knows” (2004), one of his most internationally-acclaimed films, filling up the venue of 200 seats.


The lecture and Q&A session with USC Ph.D. students and researchers

From the third day on, the film screenings and Q&A sessions took place at the Billy Wilder Theater at UCLA’s Hammer Museum. Because Director Kore-eda’s visit to the Los Angeles area had been featured in the LA Times, there was a great response not only from the locals but participants coming from out of town as well, and the theater was packed for all the films shown.


The Billy Wilder Theater @UCLA

Director Kore-eda spoke about his works at the screenings, and the audience was able to gain deeper understanding about the production’s development, which they would not have known otherwise by just watching the film, as well as its underlying themes through thorough explanations made in the Q&A sessions.

ビリー・ワイルダー劇場にて 上映後のQ&Aセッション

The Q&A Session after screening @ the Billy Wilder Theater



For example, Director Kore-eda uses motifs inspired from his personal experiences in his films, which are borne out of him noting his ideas on a daily basis. Despite being personal, his films reach out to so many people all over the world and become highly praised. In fact, at one international film festival, one local audience member asked how Director Kore-eda knew about his mother after showing “Still Walking” (2008), which was meant to be a requiem for Director Kore-eda’s late mother. Such episode highlights how his films surpass language and borders, proving that there is something universal shared among human beings which strikes a chord and leaves great impact.


Director Hirokazu Kore-eda (Prof. at Faculty of Science and Engineering, alumnus of School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I )


Learning about the stories behind the scenes, as well as Director Kore-eda’s feelings towards his works and film production from him in person, became a rare opportunity for the event participants to understand why his works have built international reputation and become appreciated by many.





<Event Schedule>

Cinema from the Outside In

 Wednesday, October 18 / 7:00 pm  *Pre-event
Death of a Japanese Salesman (2011) 90 min.
Preceded by a lecture by Professor Duncan Ryuken Williams on
“Dealing with Life and Death the Japanese Way”
The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles

Wednesday, October 25 / 7:00 pm
Nobody Knows (2004) 141 min.
Followed by a Q&A with Hirokazu Kore-eda and Professor Akira Lippit.
The Ray Stark Family Theatre SCA 108
George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex

Thursday, October 26 / 9:30 pm
After Life (1998) 118 min.
Introduced by Hirokazu Kore-eda
The Downtown Independent

Friday, October 27 / 7:30 pm
Still Walking (2008) 115 min.
Followed by a Q&A with Hirokazu Kore-eda and Paul Malcolm.
The Billy Wilder Theater

Saturday, October 28 / 7:30 pm
Maborosi (1995) 110 min
Followed by a Q&A with Hirokazu Kore-eda and Robert Koehler
The Billy Wilder Theater

Sunday, October 29 / 7:00 pm
Air Doll (2009) 125 min.
The Billy Wilder Theater

*All films were shown with English subtitles, and an interpreter was present at the lecture and Q&A sessions.

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