UNHCR Film Festival

EVENT: The 11th UNHCR Refugee Film Festival/ 第11回UNHCR難民映画祭
WHEN: October 8, 2016 – October 16, 2016 CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL SCHEDULE
WHERE: At two venues in Tokyo.
COST: FREE (donations gratefully accepted)


The 10th UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) Refugee Film Festival will take place from the 8th-16th of October at the Spiral Building in Aoyama and at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Tokyo. With the advance of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the various conflicts in Africa, and the troubles in the Ukraine all contributing to the problem, the world now has more than 60 million people who were forcefully displaced from their homes.

Due to these dire circumstances, the UNHCR Refugee Film Festival, which is held in Japan each autumn, is more relevant than ever. The films on the festival’s program include dramas and documentaries dealing with refugees from such diverse countries as Afghanistan, (South) Sudan, the Philippines, Syria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Serbia. Some of the films focus on how the refugees adjust to their places of refuge and cope with day to day challenges.

All the films are completely free. This year 13 films will be screened in total. Click HERE for a PDF of the program.

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“The Cats of Mirikitani” Screening & Talk

EVENT: Film screening of documentary “The Cats of Mirikitani” and discussion afterwards
WHERE: Aoyama Gakuin University; Bulding 17, 6th Floor, Honda Memorial Auditorium
GUEST SPEAKER: Mr. Masa Yoshikawa (Producer of the film)
WHEN: June 28, 2016 — Periods 5 & 6: 16:50 to 20:00

The documentary film, “The Cats of Mirikitani,” will be screened and its producer, Masa Yoshikawa, will give a brief talk and answer questions about it. The film tells the remarkable story of a Japanese American man, who was born in California, brought up in Hiroshima, and returned to America to study art just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The story describes his internment in a relocation camp for Japanese, and his release to an America that he felt had betrayed him.


Finding himself living on the street in New York City, he sold his beautiful drawings (mostly of cats) in order to survive. When the terrorist attacks struck New York on 9/11 he was taken in by a woman who would later direct the documentary about his fascinating life. The film tells a story that is tragic, humorous, inspirational, charming, and thought-provoking.

Here is a flyer that promotes the event in Japanese: Announcement in Japanese


Awards won by the film:

  • Audience Award at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival
  • Best Picture Award in the Japanese Eyes section of the 2006 Tokyo International Film Festival
  • Audience award at the 2007 Lyon Film festival (Lyfe / Hors-Ecran)
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Film and Talk on Japanese War Brides

EVENT: Film screening of documentary “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight” and discussion
WHERE: Aoyama Gakuin University; Room 910 (first floor of Building 9)
WHEN: June 23, 2016; 3rd period (13:20~14:50)

Lucy Craft, a freelance reporter and producer based in Tokyo, has contributed news items and feature stories to America’s CBS and NPR. She will speak to us about a film that she co-directed with two colleagues who shared her background of having Japanese mothers who were “war brides,” that is, who married American soldiers after the Second World War ended and moved to the United States to start a new life in a strange, unfamiliar land.

The short documentary film about the experiences of their mothers, “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides,” will be shown in its entirety and Lucy Craft will speak about the making of the film and why she felt that it was important for the story to be told. There will be some opportunities for group discussion and the talk will be followed by Q & A.

Originally from Washington, D.C., Lucy Craft’s curiosity about how her Japanese mother ended up with a Jewish man from the Bronx, led her to retrace her roots to Tokyo, where she eventually settled in her mother’s old neighborhood of Suginami.

Here are some materials that will be useful in preparing for the film and lecture:

Read this excellent article that’s on the BBC News Website: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33857059

WORK SHEET: Info on Moms & Daughters

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Lecture on Sociolinguistics

On Thursday, April 28th–from 6:30 PM at Ibuki Hall in Ichigaya–the Regents Professor of Linguistics, Dennis R. Preston, will speak about the development of linguistic competences (or “interlanguage states”) of learners and the systematic language variability that arises from input, transfer, and universal linguistic factors. This is a free talk that will be followed by a facilitated discussion and Q & A.

EVENT: Lecture on the history of sociolinguistics and its relevance to language teaching and learning
SPEAKER: Dr. Dennis R. Preston
WHEN: Thursday, April 28, 2016; From 6:30 PM
WHERE: Arcadia Ichigaya, Ibuki Hall (6th floor) Click
HERE for directions

RSVP: Not Necessary; This is a free event.
LANGUAGE: Lecture is in English without Japanese interpretation
TARGET AUDIENCE: Graduate students in TESOL or applied linguistics; scholars; undergraduates interested in linguistics or language education; present or in-service language teachers

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English Presentation Contest

EVENT: All Japan Student English Presentation Contest
WHEN: December 3, 2016
WHERE: Iino Hall and Conference Center
PARTICIPANTS: University and high school students

The Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS — or 神田外語大学 in Japanese) will hold its “All Japan Student English Presentation Contest” in December this year. You can find out details about it at their Web site: http://www.kandagaigo.ac.jp/contest/.

Unlike usual speech contests, this presentation contest is more like a Ted talk in that it can be supported by slides and delivered more like a business presentation than a conventional, formal speech. There is even an option to present as a team. This is an exciting opportunity for you!!!

Find useful advice for preparing your presentation at:

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Performance of the play “Seven”

The Black Stripe Threater Company invites you to enjoy their production of the play “Seven,” to be performed from April 14th – 17th at Trance Mission Theatre 「参宮橋トランスミッション」. There will be six performances in total. Tickets can be purchased online by clicking here.

This is a timely play as International Women’s Day is due to be held in 5 days’ time, on March 8th. The play tells the true stories of seven women who fought for the well-being of other women, families, and children around the globe: in Russia, protecting women from domestic violence; in Cambodia, rescuing girls from human trafficking; in Guatemala, giving voice to the poor; in Afghanistan, empowering rural women; in Nigeria and Pakistan, fighting for women’s education and rights; and in Northern Ireland, promoting peace and equality.

EVENT: Seven, A play written by Paula Cizmar, Catherine Filloux, Gail Kriegel, Carol K. Mack, Ruth Margraff, Anna Deavere Smith and Susan Yankowitz
WHEN: April 14th – 17th
WHERE: Trance Mission Theatre 「参宮橋トランスミッション」(Click HERE for a map)

The Black Stripe Theater is a group of directors, actors, designers, and theater artists producing and performing English language theater in Tokyo. The company aims to present theater of high standard using material by contemporary playwrights. The company includes one of our distinguished faculty members, Rachel Walzer.

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Talk by author Danzy Senna

On March 3rd—from 6:30 PM at the American Center in Tokyo—the distinguished author, Danzy Senna, will speak about her life and work. This is a free talk. I recently read Danzy Senna’s novel, Caucasia, and found it riveting and insightful. It looks at race in America from the perspective of a child (and, later in the novel, teenager) who is being raised by an African American father (a scholar) and a quirky, blue-blooded white activist mother in the racially tense Boston of the 1970s. There’s still room for more audience members at Danzy Senna’s talk. One of our colleagues who specializes in African American literature, Prof. Azusa Nishimoto, has invited her and the American Embassy is sponsoring the event.

— Joseph Dias

EVENT: Lecture on bi/multi-racial identity issues
SPEAKER: Danzy Senna
WHEN: Thursday, March 3, 2016; From 6:30 PM
WHERE: American Center 「アメリカンセンターJAPAN」(Click
HERE for a map

RSVP: http://americancenterjapan.com/event/201603033789/
LANGUAGE: Lecture is in English
TARGET AUDIENCE: For anyone interested in literature and racial identity issues.

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Performance of “The Language Archive”

The Tokyo International Players invite you to enjoy their production of the play “The Language Archive,” to be performed from February 25th-28th at Nakano Pocket Square「THE POCKET」. There will be five performances in total over four days.

The story is about a man named George who is obsessed with documenting and preserving the disappearing languages of the world. However, in his own life things are falling apart, and language is at the heart of his problems. Not only is he ignorant of what to say to his wife to keep her from leaving him, he also doesn’t recognize the romantic intentions of his lab assistant toward him. In addition, he is losing his chance to save an especially rare language after its last two native speakers refuse to speak to each other.

Winner of the 2009-2010 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, “The Language Archive,” is “a quirky, but stunningly well-written story of love, language, and everything in between.”

EVENT: “The Language Archive,” Written by Julia Cho; Directed by Brian Berdanier
WHEN: Feb. 25th-28th

WHERE: Nakano Pocket Square (Click HERE for a map)


The Tokyo International Players (TIP) was founded in 1896. Its members have mainly been made up of talent from the Tokyo foreign community, but Japanese cast members and supporting staff have also played key roles.

The organization, 100% volunteer-run, provides quality English-language entertainment for international audiences. Over its long history, many active members have appeared in professional theatre in Japan and abroad.

TIP is always looking for new on-stage talent, directors, designers, and backstage crew, as well as people to support their various front-of-house, fundraising, and promotional activities. They consider enthusiasm, energy, and a fun-loving nature to be more important than experience.

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Talk by a Suicide Survivor

TELL will host a special lecture by a suicide survivor named Kevin Hines on the 25th of January at the Wesley Building. RSVP to the lifeline director, Vickie Skorji <[email protected]>.

Kevin Hines suffers with bipolar disorder, and survived a jump from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in 2000. He is one of only 34 people who have survived this fall. Kevin has written a book about his experience and made a documentary and speaks globally trying to raise awareness about mental health issues and suicide, and telling people they do not have to die this way.

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EVENT: Lecture by Suicide Survivor Kevin Hines
SPEAKER: Kevin Hines
WHEN: Monday, January 25, 2016; From 7:00 PM
WHERE: Wesley Center, 2F (Click HERE for a map & video guide)
RSVP: <[email protected]>
LANGUAGE: Lecture is in English
TARGET AUDIENCE: For “helping professionals,” workers, expatriates, and all others!

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Bridging Cultures Through Art & Documentary Film Making


In this talk, the guest speaker will explain how, using artistic expression, she bridged the cultural gaps between the country of her birth (Canada) and the country of her ancestry (Japan). A third generation Canadian of Japanese descent (sansei), Linda Ohama is a visual artist, educator, and independent filmmaker. Her films and paintings have been exhibited and shown across Europe, Canada, the U.S., and Japan.


From her first film (“The Last Harvest,” 1992), which gave an account of the threats to family farmers in North America from a personal point of view, to her most recent film (“Tohoku no Shingestu: Stories from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima,” 2015), Linda Ohama links the personal with wider social and cultural issues, and the universal themes that bind us all together.

She will guide us through her life’s journey, from a young struggling artist in the 1970s to the more confident and mature film director and master of relationship building that she is today.

Speaker: Ms. Linda Ohama

Topic: A talk on the career of a documentary filmmaker: Linda Ohama

Location: Bldg. 17, 6th Floor, Honda Memorial Hall (AGU–Shibuya Campus)

Date: Thursday, November 26, 2015

Time: 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM (2nd period)

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