By Janice Sorensen
Students should look no further than the Kennedy Center this month for all of their Samurai movie needs. BYU”s David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies is sponsoring the Summer Samurai Film Festival, which will run through August 3, 2006.
The film festival will include five Samurai movies, both classic and modern, every Thursday at noon in room 238 of the Herald R. Clark Building.
“Our hope is that students and faculty will become interested in cultures from around the world,” said Cory Leonard, director of the Kennedy Center. “We”re trying to introduce the university community to the genre and get people interested.”
The film festival focuses on exploring the Samurai culture through both the action and drama genres. All the movies are free and open to the public.
The event is co-sponsored by International Outreach, a BYU course available to students who have lived in another country for at least three months. Participants increase awareness of other cultures among children in the Provo community.
“You can never be too aware,” Leonard said.
The film festival is one of many programs offered by the Kennedy Center in an effort to bring cultural awareness to students. Other efforts include a Taiwan film series slated for the fall along with several other programs in the planning process.
“One of the goals of the Kennedy Center is to bring cultural opportunities to students that wouldn”t normally be accessible,” said Drew Ludlow, events coordinator for the Kennedy Center. “The idea is to encourage students from all disciplines to explore different cultures through cinema.”
Attendees can benefit from the film series because of the awareness it brings of a culture unfamiliar to many students, said Megan Cramer, a senior majoring in Italian.
“It definitely provides a chance for students to open their eyes and see how other people live and view the world,” Cramer said. “We need to be more open minded and this type of festival provides us with that opportunity.”
The film festival showcases movies highlighting the Samurai lifestyle. The Samurai were the warrior class in early Japanese history known for their skill with the sword. Although the Samurai rose to success through military prowess, they are famous for their adherence to a strict ethical code.
The Samurai warriors lived by “bushido,” a code that required absolute loyalty to the emperor, honesty and honor. The necessity for honor is especially apparent in the act of “hara-kiri,” the act of a Samurai disemboweling himself as a means of obtaining an honorable death.
Their uncompromising ethics are often a prominent trait in Samurai movies, as the code provides a strong undertone to much of the Samurai”s actions.
“It is interesting that due to the culture they are a very soft-spoken, almost shy people, but inside there is a warrior that is very aggressive,” Cramer said. “And yet at the same time they are aggressive, they obey the rules of engagement. This cross between the chaos of fighting and the formality of following the rules is most intriguing.”
-What: Summer Samurai Film Festival
-When: Every Thursday at noon
-Where: 238 HRCB