Michael Baskett - University of Kansas
In 1953, flush from the stunning international success of Rashomon (1951, Kurosawa Akira), Daiei Film Studio president Nagata Masaichi set out on a tour of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaya, the Philippines and Thailand as member nations in order to establish the Federation of Motion Picture Producers of Southeast Asia (FMPPSA). Leveraging the considerable influence that his films were gaining on the international festival circuit, Nagata appealed for the necessity of creating a Pan-Asian market as both a showcase and marketplace for films produced in the region. He also saw this Pan-Asian film bloc as serving an ideological function as well - as a bulwark against the proliferation of Communist film in East Asia. Nagata was an active supporter of the Japanese imperial enterprise of film in Asia and yet in the post-1945 milieu, neither Japan’s colonial legacy nor the stigma of collaborating with former colonizers were enough to dissuade prospective member nations from joining the federation. This paper examines the ambiguous politics and ambitious business machinations that went into the creation of the FMPPSA and its showcase - the Southeast Asian Film Festival - in order to reexamine the political and economic imperatives of transnational film relations during the Cold War.