Film director Akira Kurosawa, who died Sunday, will posthumously receive the People’s Honor Award in recognition of his lifetime work, the top government spokesman said Monday.
Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi expressed his intention earlier in the day to give the award to Kurosawa, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka told a news conference.
“His works are highly valued not only in Japan but also internationally. They heightened ratings in the world of Japanese films and gave confidence to Japan after its defeat in World War II,” Nonaka said.
Kurosawa will be the 14th person to receive the award since it was established in 1977. In the field of cinema, the award has been given to two actors — Kazuo Hasegawa and Kiyoshi Atsumi.
Kurosawa died of a stroke at his home in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward at age 88. A farewell gathering for him will be held Sept. 13 at Kurosawa Production Inc. in Yokohama’s Midori Ward, his family said.
News of his death swept through the world, with people from many nations paying tribute to the legacy he left behind for world cinema. At the ongoing Venice Film Festival in Italy, participants honored Kurosawa on Sunday with a standing ovation as Felice Laudadio, director of the festival, announced his death.
Laudadio said he feels the loss of a cinematographer who is near to him rather than just someone from far away, while pointing out Kurosawa gained the international limelight after receiving the festival’s Golden Lion award in 1951.
Walter Veltroni, Italy’s deputy prime minister and minister of cultural heritage and sport, said many people became fans of Japanese film through Kurosawa. But the world has now lost “that passport” to Japan, said Veltroni, who was attending the festival.
In Paris, French President Jacques Chirac said Kurosawa was a “great master in the world of movies” who was exceptional in scale, sensitivity and observation of social reality. He left a great legacy to world cinema, Chirac said in a statement.
In Russia, the ITAR-Tass news agency flashed Kurosawa’s death and the private NTV television covered the death as its top news. British and German media reported the death, describing Kurosawa as an internationally honored director.
Kurosawa’s death also was widely reported in the United States. Peter Grilli, director of a Japanese culture center at Columbia University, said Kurosawa is respected as an artist more in the U.S. and Europe than in Japan.
His films are easier for Americans to understand than those by other Japanese directors, Grilli said, noting that Kurosawa’s camera technique was revolutionary and inspired many American directors.
In China, the state-run Xinhua News Agency flashed news of Kurosawa’s death, calling him the “creator of a number of Japanese cinematic masterpieces.”
Thai movie critics mourned his death as Asia’s most respected filmmaker. “As a fan, I feel sorrow for his death because it is a loss for the film world,” said Sananjit Bangsapan, a well-known film critic. Anchalee Chaiworaporn, a Thai film journalist, said, “Anyone who has heard of his death must be very sad.” Kurosawa’s films are “immortal,” she said. “His movies are unique.”
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