Kihachi tapped for Berlin tribute

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COLOGNE, Germany -- The 2007 Berlin International Film Festival's Forum sidebar will pay tribute to Japanese director Okamoto Kihachi by screening a selection of his films, organizers announced Monday.

Though less well known to international audience than Japanese contemporaries such as Akira Kurosawa and Yasujiro Ozu, Okamoto was a pioneer who helped shape the new Japanese cinema of the 1950s and '60s. The director, who died last year, broke new ground with rapid-cut editing in such samurai films as "Sword Of Doom" (1965) and the comic "Kill" (1968) and "Red Lion" (1969), all of which the Forum will screen as part of its tribute.

Other titles in the Okamoto retrospective include the director's World War II action film "Desperado Outpost" (1959), the gangster epic "The Last Gunfight" (1960) and the period drama "The Emperor and a General" (1967).

Okamoto's widow Minako, who produced several of his films, will present the series in Berlin. The retrospective is being organized by the Deutsche Kinemathek -- Museum for Film and Television, together with the Japan Foundation, Tokyo Filmex and Tokyo's National Film Center, which is providing new, English-subtitled copies of the films for Berlin.

After the Berlin festival, which runs Feb.8-18, the Okamoto series will be repeated at Berlin's Arsenal theater.

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