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Anime to ‘Inception’: 2011 Asian Film Festival and Conference

Claire Stephens | Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Asian Film Festival and Conference will showcase the creativity of contemporary Asian filmmaking this weekend at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center’s Browning Cinema. Recently-animated films from Japan will run, including a tribute to internationally acclaimed director Satoshi Kon, who passed away last year. The festival will also feature an academic panel of Notre Dame and visiting professors to complement the five films and provide cultural and aesthetic context of recent Japanese animation.

The Kellogg Institute for International Studies and the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center are presenting this unique cultural event. It has also been made possible with the generous support of The Japan Foundation in New York and Notre Dame’s Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts. It is co-sponsored by the Center for Asian Studies, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, the Office of International Student Services and Activities, the Kaneb Center and the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre.


6:30 p.m. “Kamui Gaiden”

Yoichi Sai, 2009

120 mins.

Starring Ken’ichi Matsuyama (“Death Note”), this Japanese jidai-geki period piece tells the story of a fugitive ninja known as Kamui. Fed up with the life of an assassin, Kamui attempts to escape his former masters, who now wish him dead. As he tries to forget his past and forge a peaceful new life in a seaside fishing village, Kamui’s past begins to catch up with him. Finally, he is forced to choose between his own escape and his responsibility to those who have become his adoptive family. Kamui Gaiden is based on the classic 1960s manga by Sanpei Shirato, which was also the inspiration for a late 60s anime series.

9:30 p.m. “Summer Wars”

Mamoru Hosoda, 2009

114 mins.

Directed by Mamoru Hosoda, who previously received accolades for his 2006 film, “The Girl Who Lept Through Time,” this film follows Kenji Koiso. Koiso’s upperclassman crush, Natsuki, has hired him to pose as her fiancé to please her very traditional family at her great-grandmother’s 90th birthday. While at the family’s country estate, Koiso, a math whiz, is caught up in a hacker’s plot to take control of OZ, a pervasive social network site, used for everything from everyday purchases to government affairs. As tensions rise within the family and in the outside world, it is up to Kenji and Natsuki to reunite the family and prevent the virtual world from wreaking havoc in the real world. “Summer Wars” was a blockbuster hit in Japan and has accumulated awards at film festivals around the world.



“The Curious Cabinet of Kon Satoshi: Phantasm, Feminism, and Fear”

Lecture by Melek Ortabasi, Assistant Professor, Program in World Literature, Simon Fraser University

“Connected Disconnect: Superflat, Parallax, and the Virtual Limits of a Post-Cartesian New Media”

Lecture by Jonathan Abel, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Japanese, Pennsylvania State University


“Shojo Desire”

Lecture by Margherita Long, Associate Professor of Japanese and Comparative Literature, University of California, Riverside


4 p.m. “Millennium Actress”

Satoshi Kon, 2001

87 mins.

The second feature-length animated film directed by the recently deceased Satoshi Kon follows the elderly actress Chiyoko Fujiwara. In the piece, Fujiwara recounts her life story during an interview with director Gen’ya Tachibana. Her memories and the stories of her career blend together to tell a timeless story of lost love and yearning.

6:30 p.m. “Paprika”

Satoshi Kon, 2006

90 mins.

Satoshi Kon’s last complete feature film released before his death, “Paprika,” was a major influence for the 2010 blockbuster hit “Inception.” It centers on the developers of the DC Mini, a device that enables the user to view and explore the dreams of others. When a prototype machine goes missing, doctors Atsuko Chiba and Kousaku Tokita must work together with Detective Toshimi Konakawa to recover it. The protagonists realize that the thief is using the DC Mini to cause the dream and real worlds to bleed into each other and must embrace their own true personae and face their darkest dreams to triumph.

9 p.m. “The Sky Crawlers”

Mamoru Oshii, 2009

122 mins.

Mamoru Oshii directs this film adaptation of Hiroshi Mori’s series of novels of the same name. Occurring in an alternate Earth timeline, the film tells the story of a group of “kildren.” These “kildren” are perpetual teenagers who pilot fighter jets in WWII-style aerial dogfights for mysterious powers in order to entertain and placate the masses. Forced to face death on an everyday basis, the film explores how the “kildren” live their lives to the fullest while coming to grips with their own mysterious identities. Oshii, a prolific and decorated anime director, is best known for his work on the “Ghost in the Shell” franchise.