The 31st International Festival: A Film Series

The Community College of Philadelphia has celebrated international cultures for more than three decades. In our city of Philadelphia, we are able to experience and enjoy examples of multiple cultures throughout our communities. From March 30th to April 4th, CCP celebrated the 31st Annual International Festival, at which students were able to enjoy featured speakers, lectures, luncheons, film series, and many more fascinating events. CCP encouraged its students to take part in any events that interested them and to immerse themselves in the experience of learning more about different cultures. Celebrating Our Global Families was the theme of the festival, focusing on the idea of family of choice and our connection to each other as a community, was the primary goal of this festival.

I was able to attend a film showing that was a part of the International Festival week. The film was part of a film series hosted by Professor Akiko Mori, Foreign Language Department and Professor David Prejsnar, History, Philosophy and Religious Studies Department. The film series theme was “Japan in War and Peace” and featured five different films.

The film that I saw during the international festival week was a movie called Grave of the Fireflies, which was made in 1988 and directed by Isao Takahata and animated by the internationally well known Studio Ghibli. It is also based off of a semi-autobiographical novel written in 1967 by Akiyuki Nosaka. The movie’s setting is Kobe, Japan during the final months of World War II, and the story is about two siblings who struggle to survive the harsh conditions of the Japanese civilians during WWII. From bombs dropping from the sky onto their homes on a regular basis, to a dwindling food supply and certain starvation, this movie shows how two children, Seita (14 years old) and his younger sister Setsuko (four years old) struggled to survive in war.

Grave of the Fireflies has received critical acclaim from many film critics. This story has also been immortalized by two live-action remakes one made in 2005 and another made in 2008. The film’s message is impactful, giving people a perspective as to what the Japanese civilians suffered through and the tragedies of the aftermath of World War II. With two small children as the main characters in the story, it makes it all the more devastating to see their day to day struggle. While the idea of childhood is usually about playful innocence, Seita and Setsuko usually didn’t know where their next meal would come from. It shows that everybody suffers during war and not just those on the battlefield, but also the families back at home. It can, at times, be a difficult movie to watch, but it’s important to see it through to the end. It will change and/or improve your perspective as to what happened during this chaotic time and how the Japanese civilians suffered during WWII.

For anyone interested in great Japanese cinema, though the Annual International Festival is coming to a close, there are still two more movie showings that are a part of the Film Series: Japan in War and Peace. On Monday, April 13th from 11:30am – 1:40pm they will be watching Black Rain (1989) a film based on the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Also on Wednesday, April 15th from 6:00pm – 8:30pm they will be watching Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) a film based of the battle of Iwo Jima between the United States and Imperial Japan during WWII, as told from the perspective of the Japanese who fought it. The location of the these showings are planned to take place in S2-3, so if you want to learn more about Japanese history and culture be sure to stop by.

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