Saturday, May 2, 2015

GODZILLA'S DIRECTOR AND ART DIRECTOR ASSEMBLE! Kensho Yamashita and Akira Sakuragi Hold Court in Yokohama!

Director Kensho Yamashita (left) and art director Akira Sakuragi (right) talk about their careers in tokusatsu. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Yokohama's Cinema Novecento a special Godzilla event today, which included a special screening of Godzilla 1985 (1984) in 35mm. The special guests for the event were director Kensho Yamashita, who directed Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994), and Toho art director Akira Sakuragi, who served in that position on Godzilla 1985, Akira Kurosawa's Dreams (1990), and Mothra 3 (1998).

Akira Sakuragi shows off his Toho staff ID card. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Godzilla 1985 remains one of my favorite Godzilla movies, and this was my first time seeing it in 35mm. Naturally, it's never looked better. Following the screening, a talk event with Yamashita-san and Sakuragi-san was held, in which the two spoke about their respective careers. Sakuragi-san discussed everything from working on Sayonara Jupiter (1984) to working with Akira Kurosawa on Dreams and Kagemusha (1980).

Sakuragi-san discusses the movement of the sea louse Shockirus by demonstrating with a toy. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Following the interview, Yamashita-san and Sakuragi-san signed autographs and took photos with their fans. Given Yamashita-san's history as an assistant director on a couple of my favorite films, namely Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975) and Blue Christmas (1978), I brought items related to those films for him to sign.

Kensho Yamashita recalls his career in tokusatsu and beyond. Photo by Brett Homenick.

After the signing, it was dinnertime, and the small group of us sat down with the guests and talked kaiju over our meal. Toward the end of the festivities, Yamashita-san took out his digital camera and took pictures of all the group members, including yours truly. He also asked us to sign a Godzilla book that was given to him as a gift, and I signed my name in English and katakana. It's not every day that a Godzilla director asks for your autograph!

Posing with Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla director Kensho Yamashita.

After taking pictures with Sakuragi-san, he pointed out that he owns the same camera as I do, an Olympus Stylus 1. As someone who has only just dabbled in photography, I can rest assured that I made a good choice in cameras if Akira Kurosawa's former art director uses the same camera as I do!

Yours truly with Akira Sakuragi, whose career touches both Godzilla and Kurosawa films.

As usual, it was another great event, and I enjoyed spending more time with Yamashita-san. (I met him briefly at another event in 2012.) It was a blast meeting Sakuragi-san for the first time. Both gentlemen are very friendly, and here's hoping I have a chance to see them again soon.

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