Japan’s unique silent film format—moving pictures accompanied by a live narrator (benshi) and live music (gakushi)—has started to gain international visibility over the last several years, but that global exposure could be much stronger. Through this project, performers will spend time in Germany to build networks with researchers and promoters from the international community and help create a receptive environment for broadening Japan’s “moving picture” culture. Incorporating the resources and experiences that participants gather abroad, project organizers will also work with the media to plan film festivals in Tokyo. The project will also give highly motivated musicians an opportunity to train overseas and hone their skills as gakushi.
Ichiro Kataoka, trained under a renowned benshi Midori Sawato since 2002, has performed at the Tokyo International Film Festival, Kyoto International Film and Art Festival, and other film festivals and traditional cinema houses across Japan. Kataoka also has an active international career, which began with a performance in Croatia in 2007 and has since taken him to more than 10 countries around the world—including the United States, Germany, Italy, and France. In addition to his work with silent films, Kataoka also lectures on film and entertainment history at various universities, works as a voice actor, performs picture-story shows, plays violin enka, and pens pieces for publication.
Universität Bonn, Bonn, Germany