Call for papers : Films in the Mirror. Forty years of cinema in Japan (1980-2020)

Amira Zegrour's picture

The history of cinema in Japan is still polarised into two “golden ages”: the 1930s and the 1950s, both periods of excellence through their production and artistry. The works of Ozu, Mizoguchi, Naruse and Kurosawa naturally come to mind for their expression of what is considered as quintessence of uniquely Japanese cinema. But the impact of a golden age is discernible only when in proportion to the decline that surrounds it: from the fits and starts of primitive cinema, to the provocations of the new waves, all the while snubbed by militaristic propaganda. Historiography would nevertheless find its model in this scansion between the peak and trough. But sixty years after the end of its last “golden age”, what relevance does such model still hold, if not to deplore the former glory of a production now adrift?

Around 1980, the cinematographic landscape re-emerged from the transition it had begun twenty years earlier. The structuring system of studios collapsed, clearing the way for new players and configurations. Yet the filmmakers of that period fell victim to an unusual paradox. The films of contemporaries of video and digital tools, databases and the Internet enjoyed a priori unprecedented visibility. However, and despite ground-breaking works in recent years, their understanding beyond Japan remains equally fragmented.

This edition proposes rethinking the last forty years of Japanese cinema along the following lines:

  • the overhaul of the industrial landscape and production procedures, from the meddling of players outside the cinematographic space, to the creation of shared responsibility committees (seisaku iinkai), not forgetting the emergence of independent structures;

  • the appearance of a new generation: filmmakers, comedians and idols, producers. Heterogenous filmographies will be preferred over strictly auteurist approaches, to better emphasise dialogue, competition and divergences;

  • the examination of contemporary societal challenges: the bubble and its deflation, the “lost decade”, the development of (neo)-liberal capitalism, environmental issues (urbanisation and pollution) and/or linked to the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995 in Kōbe and to the triple disaster of 11 March 2011; the question of minorities; the return to twentieth century history (and even its revision);

  • the theoretical environment of films, dialogue with new critical voices, the possibility, at last, of a theory of cinema at a time when new platforms and media studies take up more space.

The papers submitted in English will be translated into French.


Instructions to authors

Paper proposals will be sent by email, as an attached file (.doc or .docx), to the following address: ebisu [at]

They will consist of a provisional title and a summary of 800 characters, and must be accompanied by an indicative bibliography. The author will take care to specify their name, their institutional affiliation and their email.

Papers will be a maximum of 50,000 characters in length.

Carefully read the instructions. (In French)

Deadline for declarations of intent: September 30, 2020

Deadline for submitting papers: April 1, 2021

Scientific direction

Mathieu Capel with editorial committee of Ebisu. Études japonaises.

Editorial committee

  • Jean-Pascal Bassino,

  • Sophie Buhnik, Adrienne Sala, 

  • Rémi Scoccimarro, 

  • Bernard Thomann,

  • Amira Zegrour