A couple of weeks ago, I opened a survey to find out if anyone would be interested if we brought back the Akira Kurosawa Film Club. 93 people answered with a resounding “yes, please!”
Thanks to this enthusiasm, the film club will kick off again on the 1st of November (next week!) with Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru.
Not only was Ikiru the most often requested film in the survey, but fittingly it’s also a film that has been in the news recently. Most of you should also be able to find a copy fairly easily: in many countries, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play and/or Amazon offer the film as a digital rental. Or you can always buy a Blu-ray or DVD copy at places like Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. Or check your local rentals and libraries.
We will follow Ikiru in December with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2010 film Biutiful which shares themes and content with Kurosawa’s film. Like Ikiru, it should be widely available for pretty much all of you.
These two films will get the ball rolling. I will post the full schedule for next year sometime in November.
How will the film club work?
It’s quite simple, really. We watch a film on our own and gather on this website to discuss it. You can write about pretty much anything that comes to your mind in connection with the film. But we have absolutely no tolerance for spammy, offensive or inflammatory posts. Be nice to each other.
I will announce each new film with a post that also aims to give some basic background information to it. General discussion has traditionally taken place in the comments to the announcement post while more developed ideas and arguments have been posted as separate posts in the forums. To illustrate this with a semi-random example, see here for an announcement post and its discussion, and then see here and see here and see here for a couple of other posts on the same film from the same month.
We will watch one film per month. 52% of those who took part in the film club survey thought that this is the optimal frequency. 34% wanted two films a month and 12% as many as a new film every single week. For two respondents, one film per month is too much.
Since you are on average able to spend about an hour per week for the film club discussions, and since this is hopefully still a discussing film club, I see no reason to have more than the one film per month.
In summary: We will watch and discuss one film per month. I will introduce a new film on the first day of each month, starting next week, on November 1st, with Ikiru. You get hold of the film and we discuss it here on this website. Discussion can of course run for longer than a month. There is no reason to stop discussing one film just because another one is introduced.
What films will we watch?
Everyone (full 100%) who took the survey expressed a strong interest in wanting to watch Kurosawa’s films. That’s quite nice, this being an Akira Kurosawa film club and all.
The second most enthusiastic response (83%) was for films by Kurosawa’s Japanese contemporaries like Yasuziro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi and Mikio Naruse.
At the other extreme, 61% of you have absolutely no interest in watching current blockbuster films that have no connection with Kurosawa.
In between, there is quite a bit of interest for this and quite a bit of interest for that.
Our choice of films is also governed by your access to them. In previous editions of the film club, some great films received fairly little discussion because they just weren’t easily available for most.
The majority of you are in the US and UK (63% of the total) but Canada, Ireland and India are the only other countries with more than two survey-taking participants. This makes you quite an international bunch: all in all, responses came from 25 different countries. This will make it a bit of a challenge to find films that are easily available for each and every one of you. I’ll do my best to accommodate everyone but I apologise if some of the films will be tough to find where you are.
Region free Blu-ray and DVD players are also fairly rare among you (less than 25% of survey takers) and about half of you don’t have a disc player at all. More than half of you use or would be willing to use Netflix and Amazon Prime, while the other streaming services are much less popular. 68% of you are willing to spend at least $100 per year on the films, so somewhere around that will be my theoretical budget limit when planning the schedule.
You gave me plenty of great suggestions for themes, topics and specific films that we could cover. I’ll do my best to take into account as many as possible!
In summary: We will be largely alternating between Kurosawa’s films and related works. We did this in the second edition of the film club and it worked pretty well, allowing for discussion to flow nicely from one film to another. In terms of content, we won’t be watching current blockbusters, but apart from that, I will do my best to schedule a wide range of interesting and widely available Kurosawa-related works for us to cover. That said, the choice of films will be somewhat limited by the budget and your general lack of access to region free players.
Which Kurosawa films will we watch?
All of them. No one seems to be really allergic to any Kurosawa film, and there was fairly little difference in enthusiasm between the different Kurosawa categories that I listed. (Ok, there were two heathens… sorry, I mean persons who for some reason don’t want to watch Kurosawa’s immediate post-war works, but I’m sure we can cure them of that.)
Going through Kurosawa’s entire oeuvre will take us five years with the average pace of one Kurosawa film every two months. When we did this last time around (2010-2015), we watched Kurosawa’s films chronologically, so this time we’ll do it thematically. We’ll start with a couple of the more popular films, and then begin diving also into the lesser known ones.
In hindsight, I should also have asked which Kurosawa films you have already seen and which you own or have easy access to. Oh, well. Next time.
In summary: You guys seem to be interested in Akira Kurosawa’s films. Ikiru will be the first one we watch. I’ll get back to you on next year’s schedule as soon as I have it. We’ll watch all of Kurosawa’s films in the next five years or so. Five years may sound like a lot, but we have already done this a couple of times and it’s always been a blast. There’s no rush.
How can you stay in touch with the Film Club?
There are many ways to keep an eye on this website, but a clear majority of you wanted to get email notifications, which we haven’t had for a while. So, I have now set up a new Mailchimp mailing list that will notify you about new content posted on this website.
Those of you who gave their email address in the survey have already been subscribed to the list. You should in fact receive an email about this post! If you haven’t, and think you should have, check your spam folder, and if it’s not there, get in touch.
At the moment you will only get email notifications for new articles, but I’ll try to build some sort of a digest system that also sends links to active discussion threads. Those will be sent maybe once or twice a week and I’ll make it a separate list so that you can unsubscribe from it if you want just the article notifications. Bear with me a little here, as I’ll have to experiment what works.
If you didn’t give me your email address in the survey but would like to subscribe to the email alerts, you can do so here.
The other ways to stay in touch are:
- RSS feeds – Easily the best way to stay up to date.
- Facebook – You may want to enable the “see first” setting (instructions here) for the Akira Kurosawa info Facebook page. The sad truth is that Facebook shows posts to only about 20% of those who follow the Facebook page. To get Facebook to display posts to the rest of you, I would need to pay Facebook for protect… I mean, visibility. Which I can’t. You can actually also help here a little: the more often you hit that “like” button for posts from AkiraKurosawa.info, the better the chance that you and others will also see future posts.
- Twitter – As with Facebook, it’s difficult for me to make sure that you actually see posts from this website on Twitter. If you use the service, on this website’s profile page, next to the “Follow” button, there should be an icon or menu (depending on your device) that allows you to turn on mobile notifications. That way, you won’t miss a new post. Also, heart and retweet all AK.info tweets to game the algorithms for your (and this website’s) benefit.
- Tumblr – Tumblr remains a bit of a mystery to me, to be honest.
- Reddit – It’s a tiny subreddit. Upvote posts so that new posts become visible on your front page later. To be honest, I’m not actually entirely sure how it works. Magic, I guess. Or narwhals.
For the nine of you who would like to receive mobile phone notifications: I’ll look into that possibility as well. Right now, you can kind of get those by following the Twitter account and setting up mobile notifications. But that of course requires you to have a Twitter account.
Thanks for taking the survey! Or if you didn’t take the survey, thanks for sticking around nonetheless! I hope you will find the new film club a fun and useful environment to watch and discuss films with like-minded people.
As mentioned earlier, we will start next week, on November 1st with Ikiru. So, get yourself a copy! And in December, we will watch Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful to compare and contrast it with Kurosawa’s film.
If you have any questions or comments about the film club, drop them below in the comments section.