“Directing Godzilla: The Life of Filmmaker Ishiro Honda” — Author Talk in NYC
Author Steve Ryfle Gives New Insights into Japan’s Most Famous Movie Monster Maker at Japan Society
Source: Japan Society press release
Special Thanks to Shannon Jowett
Directing Godzilla: The Life of Filmmaker Ishiro Honda
Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 6:30 pm, at Japan Society
New York, NY – GODZILLA, MOTHRA, THE MYSTERIANS — Japan’s most celebrated monster movies and sci-fi classics were brought to the screen by filmmaker Ishiro Honda. A long-overlooked and underappreciated talent, Honda is now considered one of the most influential directors of Japanese cinematic history, wowing audiences with fantastical special effects while expressing the anxieties of Japan’s postwar reality.
In “Directing Godzilla: The Life of Filmmaker Ishiro Honda”, Steve Ryfle, noted scholar of Japanese science fiction cinema and co-author of 2017’s Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, From Godzilla to Kurosawa, the most comprehensive English biography of the director written to date, draws back the curtain on the man behind the monsters and provides an in-depth picture of Honda’s life and a revealing glimpse into the making of his most beloved films. Moderated by Bruce Goldstein, Director of Repertory Programming at Film Forum, the talk is followed by a book signing reception, featuring a display of original movie posters and other rare Godzilla memorabilia. The talk takes place Wednesday, February 21, at 6:30 pm, at Japan Society.
In an exclusive interview with Ryfle and co-author Ed Godziszewski, Syfy.com writes, “Ishiro Honda often gets overlooked when lists of the world’s greatest and most influential filmmakers are assembled, and it’s a bit of an injustice.” Ryfle says Honda’s “films weren’t just big action/science fiction spectacles. They often, and very consistently, captured something about what was going on at that moment in time in Japan and in the world… another thing that makes it [GODZILLA] so remarkable: it has this universal quality. Because even though Honda was making a film about something very specific, he was also making a film… about a global problem.”
The lasting impact and enduring love of Honda’s GODZILLA continues today, with 30 films in the franchise to date, the most recent of which was the first-ever anime version released in Japan in November 2017 and in the U.S. in January 2018 on Netflix.
Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, From Godzilla to Kurosawa (Wesleyan, 2017), is the first major English biography of director Ishiro Honda, and features a foreword by Martin Scorsese and many rare production photos. The Japan Times called the book “the first (and, given its thoroughness, probably last) full-length biography of Honda in English… a passionate and persuasive case for their subject’s importance.”
More from the publisher: “Ishiro Honda was arguably the most internationally successful Japanese director of his generation, with an unmatched succession of science fiction films that were commercial hits worldwide. From the atomic allegory of GODZILLA and the beguiling charms of MOTHRA to the tragic mystery of MATANGO and the disaster and spectacle of RODAN, THE MYSTERIANS, KING KONG VS. GODZILLA, and many others, Honda’s films reflected postwar Japan’s real-life anxieties and incorporated fantastical special effects, a formula that appealed to audiences around the globe and created a popular culture phenomenon that spans generations. Now, in the first full account of this long overlooked director’s life and career, authors Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski shed new light on Honda’s work and the experiences that shaped it—including his days as a reluctant Japanese soldier, witnessing the aftermath of Hiroshima, and his lifelong friendship with Akira Kurosawa. Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa features close analysis of Honda’s films (including, for the first time, his rarely seen dramas, comedies, and war films) and draws on previously untapped documents and interviews to explore how creative, economic, and industrial factors impacted his career.”
Steve Ryfle is a writer, journalist, and critic whose work has been published in The Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Cineaste, Virginia Quarterly Review, POV, and other publications. His previous book Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star (ECW, 1999) was among the first comprehensive English-language guides to the Godzilla film series. He is also active in documentary films, co-producing BRINGING GODZILLA DOWN TO SIZE (2008), a history of the art of Japanese special effects, shot entirely in Japan; and co-writing MIRACLE ON 42ND STREET (2017), the story of the Manhattan Plaza housing development for performing artists. Ryfle has recorded DVD and Blu-Ray audio commentaries (many with co-author Ed Godziszewski) for numerous films including the British Film Institute’s acclaimed DVD release of Ishiro Honda’s GODZILLA. He has been interviewed by many media outlets, and was a featured guest on NPR’s “Fresh Air With Terry Gross.”
“Directing Godzilla: The Life of Filmmaker Ishiro Honda” takes place Wednesday, February 21, at 6:30 pm. Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and M subway at Lexington Avenue). Tickets are $14/$11 Japan Society members, seniors & students. Tickets may be purchased in person at Japan Society, by visiting japansociety.org, or by calling the box office at 212-715-1258. For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit the website.
About the Japan Society
Founded in 1907, Japan Society in New York City presents sophisticated, topical and accessible experiences of Japanese art and culture, and facilitates the exchange of ideas, knowledge and innovation between the U.S. and Japan. More than 200 events annually encompass world-class exhibitions, dynamic classical and cutting-edge contemporary performing arts, film premieres and retrospectives, workshops and demonstrations, tastings, family activities, language classes, and a range of high-profile talks and expert panels that present open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia.
During the 2017-18 season, Japan Society celebrates its 110th anniversary with expanded programming that builds toward a richer, more globally interconnected 21st century: groundbreaking creativity in the visual and performing arts, unique access to business insiders and cultural influencers, and critical focus on social and educational innovation, illuminating our world beyond borders.
Talks+ Programs at Japan Society are generously sponsored by Delta Air Lines and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG). Additional support is provided by Chris A. Wachenheim and the Sandy Heck Lecture Fund.