Manchester’s Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama is set to run an evening of traditional Japanese silent films accompanied by ‘benshi’ (narrators).

The concept is a throwback to classic 1920s silent movies in Japan which were accompanied by narrators (Katsudo benshi) who were, in effect, the stars of the movie, appearing live to accompany the film and putting on highly expressive performances, narrating the story as well as the characters’ dialogue.  Benshi became big stars in Japan, often incredibly highly paid.

On Tuesday 21st October the Martin Harris Centre will be showing Tokyo March (1929), a film directed by master of the art Kenji Mizoguchi, together with a series of animated short films.  Accompanying the movie will be the renowned Japanese benshi Ichiro Kataoka.

Kataoka graduated from Nihon University College of Art and trained under the outstanding benshi Midori Sawato.  He is currently the most well-known benshi of his generation who has performed internationally, embracing both the traditional benshi style as well as more experimental techniques involving electronic music or Japanese instrumental accompaniments.  He has also appeared in various films as well as animations and video games.


The evening of classic Japanese cinema with a benshi performance by Ichiro Kataoka will take place at the Martin Harris Centre on Tuesday 21st October 2014 at 6pm.  The event is free but registration is required through eventbrite.


image courtesy of / flickr under creative commons license.

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