Saturday, April 18, 2009

National Film Center, Tokyo

Located in Kyobashi, right next door to Ginza and just a one-minute walk from Kyōbashi Station, is one of the strangely hidden gems of a city I still find intriguing eight years after I arrived.

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 an outfit that's quite the mouthful to say out loud quickly—the Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film (FIAF)—and last year's highlights were retrospectives of local auteur Masahiro Makino (2008 was 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 also boasts that it includes 30,000 films, 20,000 books, 30,000 scripts, 42,000 posters and 372,000 still photos. I haven't bothered to count to check that these figure are accurate.

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