As part of the 2012 Leeds International Film Festival, WREAC/Centre for World Cinemas student Michael Smith (supervised by Prof. Lúcia Nagib) curated a retrospective on the work of the Japanese actress and filmmaker Kinuyo Tanaka. Funded by a Mixed Cinema Network AHRC LBAS2 internship, Michael selected five films which he felt best represented Tanaka’s creative legacy, including two of her rarely-screened films as a director. All films were shown at Hyde Park Picture House and screenings were preceded by a brief introduction from Michael. The response was enthusiastic, with audience members particularly relishing the chance to see the films on 16mm and 35mm prints, which were kindly loaned to the festival by The Japan Foundation and British Film Institute.
To coincide with the retrospective, Michael also organised a one-day workshop at the University of Leeds on Saturday, 3 November 2012. The aim of the workshop, which was entitled ‘Kinuyo Tanaka: Actress and Filmmaker’, was to provide new perspectives on Tanaka as an actress and to critically introduce her work as a filmmaker. To this end, papers were given by Smith, Irene Gonzalez (SOAS), Lauri Kitsnik (University of Cambridge) and Dr. Alexander Jacoby (Oxford Brookes University). The day concluded with a 35mm screening of The Eternal Breasts (dir: Kinuyo Tanaka, 1953) at the ICS Cinema. The workshop was advertised in the festival guide and website, as well as being publicised in academic circles; this resulted in a healthy attendance comprised of both academics and members of the public, all of whom seemed to find the event informative and enjoyable.
Through the event, the Mixed Cinema Network has strengthened links with the Leeds International Film Festival and the Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds, which co-organised the Kinuyo Tanaka retrospective, in order to impact on the foreign film agenda in the UK. The event was covered by the national media, including The Guardian. In addition, the November 2012 edition of the prestigious film magazine Sight and Sound highlighted the Kinuyo Tanaka retrospective as the ‘great attraction’ of the Leeds International Film Festival.
Furthermore, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation confirmed the social impact of the event by committing funds to produce a publication based on the retrospective and workshop. The intellectual impact was affirmed by Michael’s commitment to WREAC’s continuing capacity-building role, as he has submitted postdoctoral applications based around further work on Tanaka.
For more information about the Kinuyo Tanaka Retrospective organised by WREAC PhD student Michael Smith, including information about the film screenings, please see the workshop poster and events summary below.