UO Professor Highlighted at Berlin International Film Festival

Associate professor and cinema studies executive council member’s book headlines the Retrospective of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival

By UO student Chelsea Fullmer

Daisuke Miyao says he had a dream come true when his second book, The Aesthetics of Shadow: Lighting and Japanese Cinema, was the inspiration for the Retrospective section of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival in February. Miyao is an associate professor in East Asian languages and literature and Japanese film, and an executive council member for the cinema studies department.

Invited by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and Deutsche Kinemathek, a major German film archive and museum, Miyao travelled to Berlin to introduce and view the chosen 40 silent and sound films and participate in a panel discussion in the Retrospective aspect of the festival. This year’s Retrospective concentrated on lighting styles in film through genres and decades of film history in Japan, Europe, and the United States, many topics which stemmed from Miyao’s book.

“It was a dream come true, being able to watch the films I was talking about in my books and introduce those films to them. They were focusing on what I discussed in my book, which was amazing,” said Miyao. The Aesthetics of Shadow: Lighting and Japanese Cinema is Miyao’s second English-written book, published in 2013. His first book, Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom, was published in 2007 and awarded the 2007 Book Award in History from the Association of Asian American Studies.

Miyao’s journey to the festival was in large part to his good friend, Charles Silver, a curator for the Museum of Modern Art. Silver passed along Miyao’s book to the Deutsche Kinemathek, through the relationship between the Museum of Modern Art and the German film archive. Deutsche Kinemathek was also responsible for the Retrospective section of the festival.

With sold-out shows and a packed discussion panel, Miyao connected with scholars and fans from across the world. Other members on the panel included scholars from the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

“That round-table discussion was also packed with academic people, non-academic people, film fans, and film enthusiasts. We had lots of great questions from many of them,” Miyao says.

Miyao, who is interested in transnational aspects of film and cinema,  has experienced different cultural academic environments of his own. Film was always a point of interest for Miyao, who was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. With no serious academic film programs for Miyao to pursue in Tokyo after earning his BA from the University of Tokyo, he packed his bags and headed for the States. He earned his MA and PhD in cinema studies from New York University, and arrived at the UO’s emerging cinema studies program after a few post-doctoral and fellowship stints.

“To be honest, it was different at the very beginning. I was a city boy, so to speak, so it took some time for me to really adjust to the new environment. But I started running. I hated running in the past, but now I’m running marathons,” Miyao said about his transition to Eugene.

Miyao has been part of the establishment and growth of the program since its emergence as a discipline in 2010. He teaches courses related to Japanese, East Asian, and transnational film and cinema.  With more than 300 students in the major, Miyao says he enjoys the well-roundedness of the program and hope it continues to grow.

“The great thing about cinema studies is the combination of production and critical studies. All the students learn how to make films, and then also how to talk about films, how to discuss films in critical terms. I think that’s a very healthy way to think about films,” Miyao said.

To learn more about the cinema studies department, visit cinema.uoregon.edu.