Berlin fest fetes Nobuo

Forum section plans retro for Japanese genre helmer

COLOGNE, Germany — The Berlin Film Festival will honor late Japanese helmer Nakagawa Nobuo as part of the program of the 36th Forum of New Cinema (Feb. 9-19), one of the fest’s principal sections.

The Forum, which is dedicated to cutting edge pics, will be reviving its Midnight Screenings with nine Nobuo pics from helmer’s heyday in the fifties and sixties.

Nobuo, who died in 1984, made his mark as the helmer of genre films produced within the Japanese studio system. Born in 1905, he started working as a director’s assistant and scriptwriter in 1929, and moved on to directing in 1934. He made nearly 100 films of every genre, but his signature was most evident in his crime, horror and ghost pics.

Forum’s Nobuo selection includes “Wicked Woman,” “Jigoku,” the adaptation of Soto Tachibana novel “The Lady Vampire,” and “Ghost Story of Yotsuya,” probably the best-known film version of the classic play by Tsuruya Namboku.

The pics, many of which were contemporary counterparts to the B-movies of the U.K.’s Hammer Horrors, were compiled last year for a retrospective to mark Nobuo’s 100th birthday at the Tokyo Filmex Festival.

The section establishes a trend kicked off at last year’s Munich Film Fest, which showcased Japanese ghost pic helmer Kiyoshi Kurosawa, for reappraising the early Japanese masters. “The rediscovery of Nobuo seems overdue,” said the Forum in a state-ment, “considering the current Japanese horror film trend triggered by such films as ‘Ring’ and ‘Dark Water’.”

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