When publisher, producer, director and showman Haruki Kadokawa was at his controversial peak in the 1970s and ’80s, the idea of a festival dedicated to his films — commercial fare typically based on the pop fiction his publishing house churned out — would have struck higher-minded critics as utter sacrilege.
Since then, Kadokawa’s role in saving the Japanese film industry has been recognized, his films drew fans at a time when the Hollywood competition seem likely to dominate the local market forever, and his line of “Kadokawa eiga” (“Kadokawa movies”) has produced well-remembered classics (as well as long-forgotten dross).
The fortunes of the man himself have been more mixed: Arrested on a drug charge in 1993, Kadokawa spent years in prison while becoming an industry pariah. But following his 2004 release, Kadokawa produced the smash World War II film “Yamato” (“Otoko-tachi no Yamato,” 2005) — a nearly miraculous return to his hit-making glory days.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Kadokawa eiga, a Kadokawa Film Festival will be screened from July 30 to Sept. 2 at Kadokawa Cinema Shinjuku. Among the 48 films on the program are Shinji Somai’s “Sailor Suit and Machine Gun” (“Serafuku to Kikanju”), an offbeat 1981 yakuza film that boosted teenage lead Hiroko Yakushimaru to stardom, and Nobuhiko Obayashi’s “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” (Toki o Kakeru Shojo), a charming 1983 time-travel fantasy with a romantic twist.
For more information, visit cinemakadokawa.jp/kadokawaeigasai.
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