CFP: [Film] Juzo Itami SCMS 2009

full name / name of organization: 
John Bruns
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Juzo Itami: A Critical Reassessment

In December 2007, Japanese television aired Toshiro Uratani's documentary
Juzo Itami: the Man with 13 Faces. The timing was significant, as December
2007 marked the 10th anniversary of the director's apparent suicide. In
those ten years, scant critical attention had been given to the man who was
widely regarded as one of the most important figures in post-new wave
Japanese cinema. Many of the ten films he directed between 1984 and 1997
were outrageous satires of urban Japanese society. One of which, Minbo no
onna (1992), took a daring look at the extortion techniques of the Yakuza
(it is alleged that several days after the film's premiere, Itami's face
and neck was slashed by members of the Yakuza). But his films were also
exuberant, comic, and joyousâ€"celebrations of transgressive desire and
creative appetite. Although decidedly commercial, the films didn't break
with the conventions of modern Japanese cinema so much as narrate new ways
of interweaving traditional forms of expression in the Japanese arts with
contemporary, urban aesthetics.

This panel will assume that a critical reassessment of Itami's work is long
overdue. Although Itami's work has not been entirely forgotten (one can, as
Armand White suggested, easily detect memory traces in recent films such as
Frank Oz's Death at a Funeral, Claude Chabrol's Comedy of Power and Scott
Hicks's No Reservations), the dearth of writing on his films and their
impact on contemporary Japanese cinema may suggest that it is somewhat
obscured by our (although deserved) interest in today's vibrant and complex
Japanese cinema. If this is true, then a graver situation may be at hand:
one of Japanese cinema’s most interesting decades may forever be labeled

Possible topics include:

Itami and Yakuza to film
Modern and Postmodern Japanese cinema
Itami and the postindustrial Japanese subject
Japan & Hollywood: cross cultural, pan-generic influences
Itami and eroticism
Femininity and transgression in Japanese culture
Changes in the Japanese film industry

Please send a 500-word abstract and brief bio by August 24 to:

John Bruns, Assistant Professor
Director, Film Studies Program
Department of English
College of Charleston
Charleston, SC 29412

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Received on Fri Jul 25 2008 - 10:20:37 EDT