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Akira Kurosawa (Japanese: 黒澤明 Kurosawa Akira; March 23, 1910 – September 6, 1998) was a Japanese film director, screenwriter, and producer who directed 30 films in a career spanning 57 years. He is regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema.

Kurosawa entered the Japanese film industry in 1936, following a brief stint as a painter. After years of working on numerous films as an assistant director and scriptwriter, he made his debut as a director during World War II with the popular action film Sanshiro Sugata (a.k.a. Judo Saga). After the war, the critically acclaimed Drunken Angel (1948), in which Kurosawa cast then-unknown actor Toshiro Mifune in a starring role, cemented the director's reputation as one of the most important young filmmakers in Japan. The two men would go on to collaborate on another 15 films.

Rashomon, which premiered in Tokyo, became the surprise winner of the Golden Lion at the 1951 Venice Film Festival. The commercial and critical success of that film opened up Western film markets for the first time to the products of the Japanese film industry, which in turn led to international recognition for other Japanese filmmakers. Kurosawa directed approximately one film per year throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, including a number of highly regarded (and often adapted) films, such as Ikiru (1952), Seven Samurai (1954) and Yojimbo (1961). After the 1960s he became much less prolific; even so, his later work—including his final two epics, Kagemusha (1980) and Ran (1985)—continued to win awards, though more often abroad than in Japan.

In 1990, he accepted the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Posthumously, he was named "Asian of the Century" in the "Arts, Literature, and Culture" category by AsianWeek magazine and CNN, cited there as being among the five people who most prominently contributed to the improvement of Asia in the 20th century. His career has been honored by many retrospectives, critical studies and biographies in both print and video, and by releases in many consumer media formats.

Stanley Kubrick, in the reminiscence of an assistant, would have very likely have considered the movies to have for the proverbial desert island to be The Battle of Algiers, Danton, Rashomon, Seven Samurai and Throne of Blood.[167] Robert Altman upon first seeing Rashomon was so impressed by the sequence of frames of the sun that he began to shoot the same sequences in his work the very next day, he claimed.[168]

Following Kurosawa's death, several posthumous works based on his unfilmed screenplays have been produced. After the Rain, directed by Takashi Koizumi, was released in 1999,[169][170] and The Sea Is Watching, directed by Kei Kumai, premiered in 2002.[171] A script created by the Yonki no Kai ("Club of the Four Knights") (Kurosawa, Keisuke Kinoshita, Masaki Kobayashi, and Kon Ichikawa), around the time that Dodeskaden was made, finally was filmed and released (in 2000) as Dora-heita, by the only surviving founding member of the club, Kon Ichikawa.[172] Huayi Brothers Media and CKF Pictures in China announced in 2017 plans to produce a film of Kurosawa's posthumous screenplay of The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe for 2020, to be entitled The Mask of the Black Death.[173] Patrick Frater writing for Variety magazine in May 2017 stated that another two unfinished films by Kurosawa were planned, with Silvering Spear to start filming in 2018.[174]

Kurosawa Production Company

In September 2011, it was reported that remake rights to most of Kurosawa's movies and unproduced screenplays were assigned by the Akira Kurosawa 100 Project to the L.A.-based company Splendent. Splendent's chief Sakiko Yamada,

In September 2011, it was reported that remake rights to most of Kurosawa's movies and unproduced screenplays were assigned by the Akira Kurosawa 100 Project to the L.A.-based company Splendent. Splendent's chief Sakiko Yamada, stated that he aimed to "help contemporary film-makers introduce a new generation of moviegoers to these unforgettable stories".[175]

Kurosawa Production Co., established in 1959, continues to oversee many of the aspects of Kurosawa's legacy. The director's son, Hisao Kurosawa, is the current head of the company. Its American subsidiary, Kurosawa Enterprises, is located in Los Angeles. Rights to Kurosawa's works were then held by Kurosawa Production and the film studios under which he work

Kurosawa Production Co., established in 1959, continues to oversee many of the aspects of Kurosawa's legacy. The director's son, Hisao Kurosawa, is the current head of the company. Its American subsidiary, Kurosawa Enterprises, is located in Los Angeles. Rights to Kurosawa's works were then held by Kurosawa Production and the film studios under which he worked, most notably Toho. These rights were then assigned to the Akira Kurosawa 100 Project before being reassigned in 2011 to the L.A. based company Splendent.[175] Kurosawa Production works closely with the Akira Kurosawa Foundation, established in December 2003 and also run by Hisao Kurosawa. The foundation organizes an annual short film competition and spearheads Kurosawa-related projects, including a recently shelved one to build a memorial museum for the director.[176]

In 1981, the Kurosawa Film Studio was opened in Yokohama; two additional locations have since been launched in Japan.[177] A large collection of archive material, including scanned screenplays, photos and news articles, has been made available through the Akira Kurosawa Digital Archive, a Japanese proprietary website maintained by Ryukoku University Digital Archives Research Center in collaboration with Kurosawa Production.[178] Anaheim University's Akira Kurosawa School of Film was launched in spring 2009 with the backing of Kurosawa Production. It offers online programs in digital film making, with headquarters in Anaheim and a learning center in Tokyo.[179]

Two film awards have also been named in Kurosawa's honor. The Akira Kurosawa Award for Lifetime Achievement in Film Directing is awarded during the San Francisco International Film Festival, while the Akira Kurosawa Award is given during the Tokyo International Film Festival.[180]San Francisco International Film Festival, while the Akira Kurosawa Award is given during the Tokyo International Film Festival.[180][181]

Kurosawa is often cited as one of the greatest film makers of all time.[182][183]In 1999 he was named "Asian of the Century" in the "Arts, Literature, and Culture" category by AsianWeek magazine and CNN, cited as "one of the [five] people who contributed most to the betterment of Asia in the past 100 years".[184] In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Kurosawa's birth in 2010, a project called AK100 was launched in 2008. The AK100 Project aims to "expose young people who are the representatives of the next generation, and all people everywhere, to the light and spirit of Akira Kurosawa and the wonderful world he created".[185]

Anaheim University in cooperation with the Kurosawa Family established the Anaheim University Akira Kurosawa School of Film[186] to offer online and blended learning programs on Akira Kurosawa and filmmaking. The animated Wes Anderson film Isle of Dogs is partially inspired by Kurosawa's filming techniques.[187] At the 64th Sydney Film Festival, there was a retrospective of Akira Kurosawa where films of his were screened to remember the great legacy he has created from his work.[188]

A significant number of full-length and short documentaries concerning the life and films of Kurosawa were made during his lifetime and after his death. AK was filmed in 1985 and is a French documentary film directed by Chris Marker. Though it was filmed while Kurosawa was working on Ran, the film focuses more on Kurosawa's remote but polite personality than on the making of the film. The documentary is sometimes seen as being reflective of Marker's fascination with Japanese culture, which he also drew on for one of his best-known films, Sans Soleil.[189] The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival.[190][189] Other documentaries concerning Kurosawa's life and works produced posthumously include: