Japanese film offers glimpses of country’s cultural heritage
CATHERINE W GICHUKI
DOHA THE award winning 2008 Japanese film Departures (Okuribito) by Yÿjirÿ Takita which was screened on Thursday at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) auditorium is a delightful journey into the heartland of Japan and introduces the audience to the sacred part of Japan’s cultural heritage.
The movie, winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 81st Oscars in 2009, represents a showcasing of acclaimed works of the Japanese cinema.
The MENA premiere of the film was held in association with Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), Doha Film Institute and the Japanese embassy in Qatar. The screening of the film was part of Qatar Japan 2012 celebration of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The film features Daigo Kobayashi, a cellist in Tokyo who loses his job when his orchestra is disbanded.
He decides to move back to his hometown with his wife Mika. Daigo’s family used to run a coffee shop but his father ran away when Daigo was very young. His mother raised him single-handedly.
Back home, Daigo sees an advertisement in a newspaper for “assisting departures”.
He gets the job but later discovers that the work involves preparing the dead for their last journey. The setting is a beautiful city in northern Japan.
Speaking to Qatar Tribune on Thursday, the Japanese Ambassador to Qatar HE Kenjiro Monji said the film describes the people of Japan, how they live and how they deal with others in Japan.
He added, “You can see a blend of tradition and modernity in our life. The life in Japan may differ much from the life in Qatar or in other countries, yet there are elements that are common to all nationalities.
“Japanese culture is characterised by its ability to absorb various new elements from abroad while remaining rooted in tradition. This creates diversity in culture.
Tolerance and diversity are the key words to understand Japanese culture.
“I believe that the Japanese ‘Cinema Showcase’ will present Japanese culture beautifully through the medium of cinema.” The ambassador also said that the Japanese films will be shown on last weekend of every month at the MIA auditorium. Each film will be repeated on Thursdays and Fridays.
“We will showcase Japanese films until September. People in Qatar will be able to watch a wide variety of Japanese films from classics to modern. Next month the anime of Miyazaki will be screened. We will also showcase a 1950’s film on the reconstruction of Japan after the Second World War.” Last year, two Japanese films were showcased at Doha Tribecca Film Festival, and this year, the ambassador hopes, more of them will be featured.
The ambassador thanked Qatar for supporting Japan after the earthquake and tsunami. He was also grateful for Japan being chosen as the guest of honour at Doha International Book Fair to be held later this year.