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Kinema Club Conference for Film and Moving Images from Japan 20/20 at the Nippon Connection Film Festival (Nippon Connection Film Festival)

Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Organization: Kinema Club
Event: Nippon Connection Film Festival
Categories: Film, TV, & Media, Miscellaneous
Event Date: 2020-06-11 to 2020-06-13 Abstract Due: 2020-01-30

Kinema Club Conference for Film and Moving Images from Japan 20/20  

at the Nippon Connection Film Festival


Dates:             June 11-13, 2020

Location:         Frankfurt a.M., Germany

                       Goethe University Frankfurt / Nippon Connection Film Festival

Proposal Deadline:     January 30, 2020

(Nippon Connection Film Festival dates: June 9 - June 14)

We welcome paper proposals and roundtable participation proposals for the 20th Kinema Club Conference for Film and Moving Images from Japan, to be held in conjunction with the 20th anniversary edition of the Nippon Connection Film Festival. 

The conference will consist of two sections, one with panel presentations and one with events that are coordinated with the festival screening schedule. The latter will include roundtable discussions on broader topics, “wildcard roundtables” the topics of which will be decided to create maximum synergies with the festival,  and more focused conversations with filmmakers. Through this we hope to take advantage of the current films from all corners of Japanese moving image production showing at the festival, and the large number of filmmakers in attendance.

Papers / Panels:

We encourage submission of papers that point - be it in methodology or topic - to the future of the study of film and moving images from Japan, or the future of film and moving images from Japan themselves. Papers will be ten minutes in length, with the emphasis on leaving ample time for discussion.

Roundtables / Interviews:

We also encourage applications for participation in round table discussions, “wildcard roundtables” that will be coordinated with festival screenings and events, and filmmaker conversations. The “wildcard” events will take on form as the Nippon Connection program becomes clearer, and we hope to use them to further develop ideas on the future of the field or to discuss with attending filmmakers some of the ongoing developments in film in Japan. Each participant in a roundtable will be asked to prepare a very brief statement with thoughts and questions regarding the roundtable theme. To a large degree, these are roundtable that will improvise, explore, and be an opportunity for learning and discussion. See the roundtable topics below - though we also encourage proposing additional topics similar to a panel proposal..

We especially seek for graduate students to apply, and encourage drawing on dissertation topics. While obtaining funding for a conference taking place in Germany but organized from the U.S. presents challenges we hope to be able to cover accommodation costs for at least graduate students participating in the conference, and if possible for all participants.

Nippon Connection is one of the best venues in the world to gain an overview of the current state of all corners of moving image production from Japan – no other festival shows the same number of films or covers the same span of all moving image production in Japan. The festival usually features over 100 films and over 60 filmmakers, though for the 20th edition a higher number of guests than usual are expected. Discounted tickets will be available for conference participants.

The conference is open to the public. 

Fixed roundtable themes:

  • Changing Canons
  • Female Filmmakers
  • Censorship and Control
  • Sound Studies: Current and Future Roles
  • Changing Approaches, Recent Scholarship
  • PhD & Masters Theses: Institutions, Emerging Scholarship, Challenges, Possible Futures


Panel papers:        Please send abstracts of up to 200 words and a bio (up to 100 words). 

Fixed roundtables:      Please send a statement on the future of the study of film and moving images from Japan that takes the roundtable theme as its focal point. Consider especially questions of: What are promising directions, how can we consider connected issues in new and more generative ways? What are central issues that need to be highlighted and critiqued more? If you can, include concrete examples. Proposals will have up to 200 words and a bio (up to 100 words).

Wildcard roundtables:     Please send a statement of what you find the most pressing issue for discussing the future of the study of film and moving images from Japan of up to 200 words and a bio (up to 100 words).


Note: It is possible to send in proposals for both a panel paper and for a spot on a roundtable.

Proposal submission: please write “Panel” or “Roundtable” in the subject field and send to: kinemaclub2020@gmail.com 



Paper proposals: January 30

Roundtable proposals: January 30

Line-up Announcement: February 16


We hope to see you there!

Central Organizing Committee:

Chika Kinoshita (Kyoto University)

Fabian Wessels (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Alexander Zahlten (Harvard University)

Wider Organizing Committee:

Mycah Braxton (Harvard University)

Yedong Chen (Harvard University)


What is Kinema Club? 

Kinema Club is an informal community of scholars, artists, and fans interested in Japanese moving image media established in the early 1990s. Back then we were a small group of like-minded graduate students, frustrated at the lack of community and of bibliographic resources for Japanese film (particularly for work in the language). Each “member” of this little club xeroxed and swapped the tables of contents for major film journals. When someone new came in, they would go and copy the table of contents for a new journal in return for receiving the core collection. In 1995, bibliography Maureen Donovan (OSU) provided a website and encouraged KC to go digital and see what would come of it. KC established a newsgroup called KineJapan, which instantly grew to 50 names. KineJapan now has over 600 participants from every part of the world. 

From this description you might gather than Kinema Club is more an idea than a group. The idea is that Kinema Club provides a rubric within which anything is possible. No one owns it. Anyone can take it and do something creative with it. We have no dues (and no budget or bank account). No system of introductions. No office. It is amorphous, even anarchic, but it has definitely played an important role in networking all the scholars, programmers and fans interested in Japanese cinema. 

One of the most important activities has been workshops and conferences. At the end of the 1990s, the study of Japanese cinema was undergoing some interesting transformations. Most notably, it was becoming increasingly interdisciplinary. To confront these changes head-on, a workshop was held at the University of Michigan in 1999. One thing became immediately evident: although there were many students and professors studying Japanese film and television, no one really knew each other. KineJapan already had over 200 members at that point, but few people had met face to face. So subsequent workshops and conferences were held in Hawai’i (2003), NYU (2004), McGill (2004), Tokyo (2005), NYU (2005), Yale (2006), and Frankfurt (2007) and more. The programs for the complete list of conferences are on the archives section of the Kinema Club website: https://kinemaclub.org/


What is Nippon Connection?

The Japanese Film Festival Nippon Connection is the largest platform for Japanese cinema worldwide and takes place in Frankfurt a. M., Germany. It screens around 100 films in various programs, as well as a retrospective shown at the German Film Museum, just across the Main river. From the beginning, Nippon Connection has tried to show the most interesting work from every section of moving image production in Japan, including documentary, blockbusters, experimental film, independent film, animation, or TV commercials, Around 17,000 visitors attend the event annually, as well as around 60 directors, actors, and producers from Japan and over 300 accredited professionals. The festival gives out various awards, among them an honor award for achievements in cinema; recent honorees have included Kurosawa Kiyoshi, Terajima Shinobu, or Shinya Tsukamoto. Since the year 2000 the festival has been organized by the non-profit organization Nippon Connection e.V. on a volunteer basis - a very unusual arrangement for a festival of this size. 



Prof. Alexander Zahlten