January 17, 2014 - Transitional Moments in Film and Media History in Japan

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Kinema Club Conference Series (Kinema Club XIII at Harvard University)
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Three Times +X. Transitional Moments in Film and Media History in Japan.

Dates: January 17, 2014
Reischauer Institute, Harvard University
Deadine for submissions: August 20, 2013

We welcome submissions for the 13th Kinema Club Conference on Film and Moving Images from Japan!

This Kinema Club will focus on three transitional moments in the history of film and media in Japan, centered around the years 1927, 1962, and 1995. Additionally, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Reischauer Institute, we will include the year 1973.
Panel proposals on additional years are also possible (though not individual papers), as are panels on questions of historiography in relation to research on film and moving images from Japan.

The concept is therefore somewhat different from previous Kinema Clubs. By focusing respective sessions on specific years, we will be able to recognize heterogeneous constellations. These can be what Harry Harootunian has (in reference to Ernst Bloch) called "noncontemporaneous contemporaneity", or due to other factors of industry or audience segmentation. These constellations can include relations across different genres, distribution networks, or media platforms at a given historical moment. It will allow recognizing what we might call contradictory coherences of aesthetic, social, and political history.

For this we have selected three years that are often regarded, for different reasons, as transitional:

1927 is the year that Komatsu Hiroshi sees as foundational for modernism in the cinema of Japan, strongly influenced by the 1923 earthquake in Kantô.

1962/3 is the time of the appearance of Pink Film and Ninkyô Yakuza film, and the production of the first anime, Tetsuwan Atomu / Astro Boy (even if the first broadcast took place on January 1, 1963). It the year after a large part of Shin Toho's archives were sold to television, making Japanese films produced for the cinema available on TV for the first time.

1995 is often discussed as a year of crisis and rupture, deeply leaving its mark on moving image culture. After the burst of the bubble and the re-organization of the film industry, it is the year in which Neon Genesis Evangelion is broadcast. It is the time when Japanese film is re-"discovered" at international film festivals.

and as a bonus option and due to the 40th anniversary, we include the year 1973, the year of the founding of the Reischauer Institute.

Panel submissions of at least three presenters that focus on additional years are also welcome!

The conference will be held on January 16 at the Reischauer Institute at Harvard University.

Please send abstracts of up to 200 words or any questions to: kinemaclub13@gmail.com

Deadline for submissions is August 20, 2013.

We hope to see you there!
Alexander Zahlten


What is Kinema Club? 

Kinema Club is an informal community of scholars, artists, and fans interested in Japanese moving image media established in the early 1990s. A group that Initially formed for informally swapping Xeroxes of tables of content from Japanese film journals eventually established a newsgroup called KineJapan, which instantly grew to 50 names. KineJapan now has over 600 participants from every part of the world. 

From this description you might gather than Kinema Club is more an idea than a group. The idea is that Kinema Club provides a rubric within which anything is possible. No one owns it. Anyone can take it and do something creative with it. We have no dues (and no budget or bank account). No system of introductions. No office. It is amorphous, even anarchic, but it has definitely played an important role in networking all the scholars, programmers and fans interested in Japanese cinema. 

One of the most important activities has been our workshops and conferences. At the end of the 1990s, the study of Japanese cinema was undergoing some interesting transformations. Most notably, it was becoming increasingly interdisciplinary. To confront these changes head-on, an intimate workshop was held at the University of Michigan in 1999. One thing became immediately evident: although there were many students and professors studying Japanese film and television, no one really knew each other. KineJapan already had over 200 members at that point, but few people had met face to face. So subsequent workshops and conferences were held in Hawai'i (2003), NYU (2004), McGill (2004), Tokyo (2005), NYU (2005), Yale (2006), Frankfurt (2007), Harvard (2009), Hawai'i (2010), Vienna (2011) and Yale (2012). The programs for many of these conferences are on the archives section of the Kinema Club website.