As March is Asian/Pacific American heritage month, I wanted to share some fun facts about Japanese cinema making it's way in to the US. While US Hollywood culture has spread wildly throughout the world, watching films from any country you're not closely familiar with is a jarring experience. That's why it is often difficult for media from other cultures to break out in new countries. However, we've had many exceptions to this throughout history.
One such film released 27 years ago today, that is credited as having brought Japanese cinema to the US in 1953, is called Ugetsu. This black and white film was a fantasy, romance, war drama about two families whose patriarchs are ambitious craftsman trying to create names for themselves amid the Japanese Civil Wars. The film was nominated for an Academy Award and also won numerous international awards.
Without powerful, boundary-breaking films like Ugetsu, Asian culture in Western society would not be as wildly known or spread, and there's still a lot of work to be done. Asian Americans are still consistently either underrepresented or misrepresented in films and TV shows, but we are progressing to a more inclusive future. And after all, this years film of the year was Parasite, a Korean film that blew audiences away regardless of culture or race. And films like Ugetsu helped pave the way for that to happen.
Happy Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month!