Kurosawa film school closes doors

Staff ankled over differences with management

The Akira Kurosawa Film School, which had been skedded to open in September with a teaching staff largely comprised of the late helmer’s colleagues, has closed its doors, the school’s management company said.

The school administrator and dean decided to ankle over differences with management, leading to the academy’s announcement that it would close and refund tuition fees.

According to a statement issued by the company, the chain of events leading to the closure began with the May 1 resignation of school administrator Teruyo Nogami. A script supervisor and production manager for Kurosawa for nearly four decades, Nogami reportedly quit to take responsibility for actions by two school staffers that, the statement said, “resulted in a loss of trust from two companies with whom we had an extremely important cooperative relationship.” The staffers received their walking papers April 25.

The fired staffers engaged in what one press report described as “improper behavior” with a company commissioned to make the school Web site and with the management of Tokyo Arts Center, which owned the building where the school was to be headquartered.

Another source said Nogami and the academy clashed over the school’s curriculum and philosophy. “Nogami wanted to make films in the style of the old ‘Kurosawa family,’ but the academy stressed digital techniques and other modern methods,” the source said.

News of Nogami’s departure prompted the school’s dean, actor Tatsuya Nakadai, to resign also.

On Tuesday, the Academy announced it was closing the school pending “drastic restructuring” and would refund student tuition fees.

Launched with great fanfare on April 12, the school planned to train a new generation of filmmakers in the spirit of Kurosawa. The staff included a who’s-who of not only former Kurosawa colleagues, but also the Japanese film industry’s elder generation, including directors Yoji Yamada and Kon Ichikawa.

The pace of applications was slow, however. The school reportedly had signed up only 10 students when it closed its doors. It was skedded to start instruction on Sept. 11 with a freshman class of 110 in its two departments, production and acting.

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