Thursday, October 16, 2008

National Film Center, Tokyo

Located right next door to Ginza, just a minute from Kyōbashi Station, is one of the more obscure gems in this treasure-trove of a city.

The National Film Center is an integral part of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and the whole building here—first developed in 1970, then entirely rebuilt in 1995, to a design by architect Yoshinobu Ashihara, who built the nearby Sony Building—is a shrine to all things cinematic.

It’s dedicated to the preservation and research of cinema, is a full member of the French-sounding Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film (probably because the société is French—it was set up in Paris in 1938), and this year there are retrospectives of local auteur Masahiro Makino (2008 is the centenary year of his birth), along with prolific French writer/director, Jean Renoir.

Also expect screenings of silent movies from the 1920s, by Teinosuke Kinugasa, through to more obscure classic Japanese cinema like Nigorie (1953), directed by Tadashi Imai—starring the sublime Chikage Awashima.

In addition, the 7th floor permanent exhibition includes books, posters, memorabilia and periodicals on cinema, in particular Japanese.

The collection includes 30,000 films, 20,000 books, 30,000 scripts, 42,000 posters and 372,000 still photos. They say that in their promo material—match those figures if you can. I’m still counting my personal collection.

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