Directors Spotlight: Akira Kurosawa

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In our next Director's Spotlight series, PopMatters offers readers an insightful week-long series exploring the work one of the most influential filmmakers of the modern era, Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa.

In this expansive series, we invite writers, cinema scholars, film historians and social theorists from all disciplines to offer their thoughts on Kurosawa's work, it's social impact and the director's cinematic legacy.

In celebration of the 100th year of Kurosawa's birth, the 60th anniversary of his mind-bending samurai classic Rashomon and the 25th anniversary of Ran, we hope to offer audiences a fresh, incisive and scholarly examination of the great director's body of work. From his adaptations of Shakespearean masterpieces to his continuing influence on the American Western genre, Kurosawa marked the first introduction to foreign cinema for many American moviegoers, and his ability to bridge eastern and western artistic traditions has made his films some of the most influential works in world cinema. With this series, look forward to providing an opportunity for scholars and film enthusiasts to revisit the often brilliant, and occasionally uneven, work of one of cinema's great masters and turn a modern eye on these classic works

Essays between 1,000 and 3,500 words will be due by 31 August 2010, though earlier submissions will be greatly appreciated. The challenge in writing about Kurosawa, of course, is the extensive prior analysis of his work by legions of scholars thus far. Because these essays will be read by students and fans of Kurosawa's work the world over, the highest standards will be anticipated. Specifically, we are looking for submissions that address the following topics:

Submissions should be directed to fall under one of the following topic headings:

*Kurosawa 101 – The Canon: Exploring Kurosawa's Filmography (At least 500 incisive words on each film forming mini essays in a section similar to this previous example). Details are below.
*The Brush and the Lens: Kurosawa's Work as Painter and Director
*From Page to Screen: Adaptation in Kurosawa's Cinema
*Textbook on Film: Kurosawa as Historian
*Rebuilding: The Reconstruction of Post-WWII Japan in the Cinema of Kurosawa
*Combat and Conflict in the Films of Kurosawa
*The Emperor and the Bard: Kurosawa and Shakespeare
*East Meets West: Kurosawa as a Western Filmmaker
*The Rashomon Effect: Kurosawa and the Birth of Non-linear Storytelling

We will also be looking for shorter mini-essays of some 500 words will populate the Kurosawa 101 section, offering a comprehensive overview of the director's filmography. Since Kurosawa has such a broad range of work spanning many decades, genres and styles, we are grouping these mini-essays about Kurosawa's films into three periods in the hopes of making them easily accessible to all of our readers. The periods will break down as follows:

1943 - 1950: Kurosawa's extremely prolific post-war period, in which he makes 11 films in seven years, many exploring the transformation of life in Japan after the Second World War. Includes works such as the noir inspired drama Stray Dog and Drunken Angel, which marks the director's first film with Toshiro Mifune.

1950 - 1965: The period in which Kurosawa attains worldwide popularity and mainstream acclaim, this period includes some of the director's finest and most well-known work, including Rashomon, The Seven Samurai, and Throne of Blood.

1970 - 1993: The period following Kurosawa's break with longtime studio Toho, during which he works as a freelance director. A generally uneven period for the filmmaker, punctuated by two of his most impressive and lasting masterpieces, the epics Kagemusha and Ran.

All correspondence should be addressed to: Ian Chant, Robert Moore and Sarah Zupko,, AND

We look forward to assembling this feature series and hope that you find it both interesting and worthy of your participation.