Professor Buzzell expresses excitement for Eiga Fest

By Jamie Sapp | Editor-in-Chief

Spring break may be over, but the spring film festival of the Cinema Series at Augusta University is just beginning.

The Cinema Series is hosting the Eiga Fest in the Maxwell Theatre on Saturday, April 15, to celebrate Japanese cinema and culture.

Matthew Buzzell, an assistant communication professor and co-chair of the Cinema Series, said every spring a country is chosen where its own cinema and culture is celebrated.

“Last year, we did Italy, and the year before we did France,” he said. “This year, we’re doing Japan.”

Poster of the Eiga Fest on April 15 (Courtesy of Matthew Buzzell)

When asked on why Japan was chosen for this year’s film festival, Buzzell expressed his passion for Japanese cinema and culture.

“When I think about world cinema, Japan is a country that has a very distinct and rich cinematic history,” he said. “So it just seems like a natural pick for me because I spent a lot of energy researching Japanese cinema and kind of immersing myself in it.”

In 2015, Buzzell led a study abroad trip to Japan for the university and hopes to have another  in 2018.

“Some of the students that traveled to Japan with me in 2015 are still here,” he said. “I know they’re very excited about this program that we’re undertaking. I was just in Japan in December doing some research for a project that I’m working on, and I was able to reconnect with a Japanese filmmaker and see some of his recent work. I thought, ‘Gosh, it would be great to program one of his films.’”

Buzzell said he is aware that there is a major interest in Japanese cinema and culture among students at the university.

“I would say that many of our students were raised watching Anime,” he said. “So there is a little bit of a built-in audience for Japanese cinema.”

At the Eiga Fest, the four Japanese films that will be shown are “The Wind Rises,” “Mifune: The Last Samurai,” “After the Storm” and “Moriyamachu Driving School.”

Buzzell expressed his excitement for the Eiga Fest when describing each of the films, including Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises and Steven Okazaki’s Mifune: The Last Samurai.

He said “The Wind Rises,” the first film of the festival, is a gorgeous and moving film.

“It is Miyazaki’s most reality-based film, but it’s still quite fantastical and lyrical,” he said. “It will be quite an experience to see this film on the big screen as it was intended to be seen.”

“Mifune: The Last Samurai,” a documentary on the life of legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, is the second film.

Buzzell said Mifune was a real “larger than life” figure within Japanese cinema and culture.

“One of the tacts that the documentary takes is that it explores his life as kind of an accident,” he said. “He never actually set out to be an actor. He just kind of happened upon acting.”

Professor Buzzell said what he loves about the daylong, spring film festivals is that many people want to become involved with them.

“They come for the first film and they stay all the way to the end because we have breaks,” he said. “It’s just a great way to really luxuriate in one culture and their cinema.”

The Eiga Fest begins at noon with a Ikebana flower display and origami demonstrations. There will be complimentary snacks and tea served throughout the day for students and the public.

Contact Jamie Sapp

Link of the Eiga Fest trailer video:

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