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Edinburgh to offer retrospective of Japanese director Shinji Somai

The Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) is pleased to present a Retrospective of Japanese director Shinji Somai’s work as part of the 2012 programme. Greatly admired in Japan, Somai is only beginning to receive international recognition, as is highlighted by the fact that many of Somai’s films will have their first UK screening at the EIFF, and several will be European premieres. The EIFF runs from 20 June to 1 July 2012.

The films of Shinji Somai (1948-2001) are a constant source of inspiration for Japanese filmmakers. His body of work spans the 1980s and 1990s, a period in Japanese film history that remains little explored by Western film scholars and largely inaccessible to Western audiences. Yet without an understanding of this period, and of Somai’s significance, it is impossible to understand the transition from the golden age of Japanese studio filmmaking to the recent explosion of personal, independent filmmaking in Japan.

A unique stylist in a variety of popular genres, Somai made films that were well received in Japan by both critics and the general public. Among the films to screen at EIFF will be SAILOR SUIT AND MACHINE GUN (1981); P.P. RIDER (1983); THE CATCH (1983); TYPHOON CLUB (1985); MOVING (1993); THE FRIENDS (1994) and WAIT AND SEE (1998). Further Retrospective titles will be announced at a later date.

Chris Fujiwara, EIFF Artistic Director, said: “Shinji Somai is one of the most personal and original Japanese filmmakers, and a master whose work has been almost completely neglected outside Japan. Just over ten years after his passing, I believe the time is right for Somai. Audiences and critics will be amazed by what they discover in this body of work, which I’m delighted to bring to the UK.”

Kanako Hayashi, director of TOKYO FILMeX, collaborator on the Retrospective with EIFF, said: "Last November, TOKYO FILMeX held a full retrospective of Shinji Somai’s films at the 10th anniversary of his passing. A large audience, including our filmmaker guests from abroad, enjoyed them a lot. He was one of the most important filmmakers in Japan at the end of the 20th century, and his films should be introduced all over the world at present, just as if he were continuing to make films today. (In fact, Somai was just one year younger than Takeshi Kitano.) I urge lovers of film not to miss this chance to follow Somai’s unique artistic trajectory throughout his works at Edinburgh."

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