The Japan Foundation is currently hosting its Annual Film Festival, with movies showing at the Cairo Opera House until 14 July and continuing in Alexandria until 17 and 18 July. This year, the festival celebrates the life and work of revered filmmaker Akira Kurosawa; divided over 10 days, the festival shows up to two of his movies per evening.
Akiro Kurosawa is arguably best known for his epic Seven Samurai, the first movie, according to many film critics, to use the plotline of a band of brothers coming together to save the day, or the village, in this case. But the master has made many more cinematic gems, and the Japan Foundation has created a program that allows you to discover such internationally acclaimed movies as The Hidden Fortress, winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlin Festival in 1959, Ikiru, nominated for a BAFTA Film Award in 1960, and Yojimbo, nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1961, to name but a few.
The Japan Foundation’s biggest event is the film festival each year and they centre the movies on a set theme. “Last year we chose the economic situation of Japan after the second world war,” Mr. Masakazu Takahashi, director of the Japan Foundation in Cairo explained. “By highlighting a special aspect of the Japanese culture, using our films, we hope to create more awareness for the different aspects of Japanese history and society.”
Cairo hosts the only Japan Foundation office in the Middle East and besides cultural exchange, the centre offers comprehensive language courses both in Cairo and in Alexandria. “Each year 200-300 people enrol in our Japanese language courses and do very well,” Mr. Takahashi told the Daily News Egypt. “Japanese is a very difficult language but the Egyptian people have a large communicative talent and they study hard. We are the only foundation that offers the possibility to the students to enrol in intensive language courses in Japan,” he concluded. The training programs abroad vary in length, from a few weeks up to three months, depending on the level of the student.
So far the festival has attracted an enthusiastic audience of 100 to 120 people per night, made up of a mix of Japanese language students, Kurosawa lovers, and Japanese expats. For those of you who missed the showing of the famous Seven Samurai, there is a second chance to see it on 13 July before the festival concludes in Cairo on 14 July. Alternatively, it will be shown on 18 July at the Alhorreya Center for Creative Art in Alexandria where the film will close the festival this year.