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The silent films screened in Japan from the 1920s to ’40s were never completely silent. Katsudo-shashin benshi, or benshi for short, delivered live narration that provided everything an audience might need to appreciate a film — from commentary to translation. Derived from Japan’s many narrative art forms, benshi were an effective way to introduce cinema to Japanese audiences.

Though the era of silent films is gone, the art of narration lives on through a handful of professionals. Ichiro Kataoka is one of the country’s few active benshi, and he will provide narration for Tomiyasu Ikeda’s 1926 classic “Chushingura” at the Tokyo International Film Festival’s Special Night Event at Kabukiza Theatre. The event will also feature narration by guest benshi Ichiro Furutachi and a special performance by kabuki actor Onoe Kikunosuke.

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