We finally got it, an official film festival on Akira Kurosawa. It was a historic event indeed. IAFM organised it, the National Museum provided the venue, and Embassy of Japan via Japan Foundation sent 13 beautiful 35mm prints which, like organic food, is still the best deal. All for free and open for all.
I am now convinced that Kurosawa is the most loved director in our country after Satyajit Ray. It rained on the first day and it rained on the last day; it rained on “Seven Samurai” and it rained on “Throne of Blood”; and it rained on “Rashomon”. We were drenched. Plus there were strikes on two days during the festival. Still a lot of people showed up for each show, ranging from 50 to 100. Now compare that to the European Film Festival a few months back where only 5 to 10 people attended each show.
Many film scholars and institutes have the bad habit of deifying filmmakers and thus ruining their careers. They are like thankful cannibals, devouring the filmmakers for their own glory and paying tributes from time to time. Kurosawa is both appetite (for filmgoers) and bread (for pundits). But I enjoyed the workshop. It was quite surprising to see over 60 people showing up for the 3-day ‘Explore Kurosawa’ workshop. I noticed many unshaven faces with disheveled hair who probably did not have any lunch and were eagerly waiting for the refreshments (milk-less tea with baby-biscuits). Once I looked the same. Even the Japanese ambassador, a die-hard Kurosawa fan, confessed in his speech, “I seriously wanted to be in films but failed a very important interview and changed my mind and became a diplomat”.
Now you might disagree with my list but this is what I feel at the moment. These are my ranking of all the films exhibited (excluding my least favorite “Dodes’ka-den”; and “Dersu Uzala” which was a special out-of-festival show screened from a DVD):
12. Idiot; 11. Lower Depths; 10. Madadayo; 9. Sanjuro; 8. Red Beard; 7. Hidden Fortress; 6. Ikiru; 5. High and Low; 4. Throne of Blood; 3. Rashomon; 2. Seven Samurai; 1. Yojimbo.
Surprisingly, the three masterpieces “Bad Sleep Well”, “Kagemusha” and “Ran” were not included.
My father, who joined Japan Airlines in 1987, told me about the festival and insisted I attend the program. He even paid the registration fee for the workshop. Thanks dad, it was great.