In the wake of a series of film retrospectives celebrating Japanese ‘divas’ and auteurs, this symposium critically addresses the application of the term ‘diva’ to the Japanese context. Both the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive’s recent film programme entitled ‘Japanese Divas’ and Toronto Film Festival’s current retrospective ‘Japanese Divas: The Great Actresses of Japanese Cinema’s Golden Age’ refer to well-known Japanese actresses as ‘divas.’ However, this definition was largely based on the reception of their performances in America. This symposium questions whether we can speak of ‘divas’ in the context of the Japanese film and media industries. If so, who are these divas and what forms and functions do they take?
The term ‘diva’ connotes a quest for an essential (feminine?) quality and has since been extended and applied to film stars celebrated outside Hollywood or Europe, from Japanese cinema of the 1930s and 1950s to the current film and television personalities known as tarento. A fascination with female star personae, often approximating Hollywood ‘diva’ status, is discernible in popular media from the early 1930s to this day; ‘diva’, however, did not enter Japanese language film criticism until the 1980s. This symposium will address not only the form, but also the function of the Japanese ‘diva,’ or cultural equivalent. Female star personae on the small as well as the silver screen are undoubtedly of prime public interest and therefore importance in Japan, but can we call this type of star a ‘diva’?
The event is free and open to the public but registration is essential to guarantee a place. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
Book a place at: email@example.com
10 June 2013 18:00: Screening of Akira Kurosawa’s The Idiot (Hakuchi, 1951)
11 June 2013 10:00-17:30: Symposium on ‘Rediscovering the Diva’
Key note speaker: Dr Irena Hayter (University of Leeds)
Venue: School of Oriental and African Studies, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG: Brunei Gallery Room: B102
Funded by the Sasakawa Foundation
A SOAS Centre for Film and Screen Studies event.
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