Opening Statement-Luciano Barisone


Aug. 25, 2010

Cinema and life are like containers of space and time. They often run parallel and reflect one another. Their meeting point is the human being. Thrown in the nature of the universe, amongst billions of other forms, organic and inorganic, man finds in cinema a ceremony consecrating his existence. This is true for other arts, too, but maybe because of its intrinsic urge to reproduce reality with images and sounds, cinema carries out this rite with far deeper devotion.

It is fitting to remind ourselves of this antropocentric nature of cinema in a country like Japan and a city like Nara, the nation’s old capital. It is fitting because we all reach cinema though an act of co-optation. We become spectators because something or someone introduces us to it. That is also my experience.

I was around seven or eight years old and I used to live in my district with some kids of the same age. Together we were trying to defend our playgrounds in a postwar city that was deeply transforming itself into an industrial area. We all liked soccer and we used to play it every day in an area destined to become a factory. One day my friends told me: “They are showing a wonderful film in the cinema, with warriors defending a village from bandits, who want to rob the villagers”. We all went to see the film. For us, there was an immediate identification. The movie was Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. The day after we were all like them. Unfortunately, this did not help us to save our playground. Industrial interests were by far more important than ours. But we got conquered by cinema.

Later on, I watched some movies of other important Japanese directors, the classics like Ozu or Mizoguchi or the moderns like Imamura, the contemporaries like Kitano or Kawase. Through them I discovered Japan, its nature, its culture and the sounds of its language. By watching these movies I had access to a life I would have never known otherwise.

It has been thus with great pleasure and gratitude that I accepted the invitation to program the first Nara International Movie Festival. To me, this is like a restitution, it is my way to paying homage to the Country that so much impressed me when I was a child. Like a journey back home.

Nowadays there are no more samurais and our childhood innocence is also gone. But cinema is still there. And it leads us the way to discover the world.

Chief Programmer
Luciano Barisone
Director of Festival dei Popoli and Visions du Réel

Opening Statement-Laurence Kardish


Aug. 25, 2010

Dear Citizens of Nara and Distinguished Visitors ---

I am deeply honored to have been asked to serve as Head of the Jury of the First International Nara Film Festival, and very moved to be in this extraordinary place where 1300 years ago, as the new capital city, Nara became the seedbed for the arts that would blossom into the distinct culture of Japan.  It is most exciting, indeed, to be part of the initiative that identifies the most modern of the arts, the moving-image, with the wealth of arts in this venerated city.

It is also appropriate, that this project was conceived by a filmmaker, Ms. Naomi Kawase, whose roots are in this city, and whose sensibility is poetic.  Kawase's films are admired around the world for their humanity, their special beauty, and her images of Nara and its environs.

I congratulate Kawase, Mr.Kiyokazu Washida, Chairperson of the Organizing Committee of the Nara International Film Festival, and all members of the Organizing Committee for establishing a rapport between the superlatives of Nara and recent achievements of the moving- image.  I know that Nara has the oldest and largest wooden structures in the world, the largest bronze sculpture as well, and the largest public park in Japan.  What I also learned was the world's oldest printed material - strips of paper with prayers from the Hyakuman pagodas - were published here in 764, which suggests that in Nara's DNA lies the desire and ability to communicate, and reach out to  the outside world.  Film festivals act as a great communicator bringing together in a friendly cultural way different ideas and different ideas,   enriching an understanding of the world for anyone attending the festival, and bringing Nara to the attention of those who love cinema over the world. Let me express my hope this festival will be the first of many, inaugurating Nara as a site where present and future generations will come to look at,  enjoy, and treasure new films.

Jury President
Laurence Kardish
Senior Curator of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York



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