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Archive: Winter 2005

Films of Kawase Naomi

Special Guest: Director Kawase Naomi to appear.

Co-presented by REDCAT, Los Angeles, and the School of Film/Video, CalArts. Sponsored by the UCI Humanities Center and the UCI Asian Studies Center

Embracing (Ni Tsutsumarete) and Katatsumori (7pm)

After the breakup of her parents, Kawase Naomi was brought up by her grandparents, who actively discouraged any attempts by her to meet her biological father. In Embracing, Kawase records the search for her father. Along the way she addresses questions of identity and happiness in images and sequences which often remain as fragmented, tentative, and enigmatic as the few stories which have made up her own life story so far.

Katatsumori, which means snail, is the first of three films that Naomi Kawase has dedicated to her grandmother. As a chronicle of their relationship this film documents the time spent by the grandmother in her garden. With her syncopated style, Kawase films gestures which are repeated year after year: everything from the sowing of the seeds to the picking of the vegetables. It is in this cyclical pattern that the director and subject try to find some sense of proportion, of the measure of their own lives.

Embracing: 1992, Japan • 40 minutes • 16mm • in Japanese with English subtitles

Katatsumori: 1994, Japan • 40 minutes • 16mm • in Japanese with English subtitles

Suzaku (9pm)

Set in her native Nara, Kawase’s feature debut Suzaku concerns the struggles of a formerly thriving timber community that has come to believe that a government funded railroad project will breath new life into the town. At the center of the film is a family whose gradual disintegration reflects the inability of the town to find its place in a rapidly changing world. True to her documentary roots, Kawase immerses herself in the town, casting local residents as characters in the film, achieving a beautifully rendered sense of place.

1997, Japan • 95 minutes • 35mm • in Japanese with English subtitles

After graduating from the Osaka School of Photography in 1989, Kawase Naomi worked as a lecturer at the school for four years. Her short films Embracing and Katatsumori won numerous awards and acclaim for the director. In 1997, her first feature, Suzaku, won awards at the Rotterdam and Singapore Film Festivals, and earned the Camera D’Or at Cannes.

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