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The Radical Cinema of Kiju Yoshida

Japanese cinema, Japanese Directors, News, Radiance Films -

The Radical Cinema of Kiju Yoshida

When Kiju Yoshida, whose work will be celebrated with a weeklong, sixteen-film retrospective at Film at Lincoln Center in New York starting Friday, died last December, several obituaries began along the same lines as “Along with Nagisa Oshima, Shohei Imamura, and Masahiro Shinoda, he was one of the great figures of the Japanese New Wave. He was the most secretive and the most intellectual, too.” Yoshida probably would have raised a few objections to that first sentence, but he may well have given a modest yet affirmative nod to the second.

The critic and director known for years as Yoshishige Yoshida—he later decided that an alternative transliteration of his first name, Kiju, was simply easier for everyone to deal with—often graciously conceded that it was difficult to resist the temptation to group a generation of filmmakers with similar backgrounds into a movement, especially during a period when there were New Waves rolling out in France, Czechoslovakia, and other regions of the world, but just as often, he added: “We never thought of ourselves as a movement, then or ever.” Like Oshima, who was one year older, Yoshida went straight from university—Kyoto and political history for Oshima, Tokyo and French literature for Yoshida—to the Shochiku production company after graduating in the mid-1950s. Both men in their early twenties spent about five years working as assistants—Oshima to Masaki Kobayashi, Yoshida to Keisuke Kinoshita—at a time when Japanese moviegoers were increasingly choosing their living-room televisions over going out. The studios were anxious to pull young audiences back in, and both Oshima and Yoshida directed their first features before they turned thirty.

 

Read the rest of the article on David Hudson on the Criterion website.
Get Kiju Yoshida: Love and Anarchism (blu ray) here

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