“Miwa: A Japanese Icon” Tonight at the Castro

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In Japan, Miwa Akihiro is a household name. The 76-year-old, openly gay, bleached blonde, drag queen, actor/author/singer is a regular face on Japanese television, known for making outrageous, cutting and (sometimes) insightful comments on news and culture. In the U.S., he is known mostly known for his film roles—playing the femme fatale in Kinji Fukusaku’s break-through “Black Lizard,” voicing the fierce mother wolf in Hayao Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke” and the witch in “Howl’s Moving Castle.” But until now, U.S. audiences haven’t had a chance to visit with Miwa’s outsized personality—celebrity affairs, audacious outfits and radical social and political activism.
At this year’s Frameline Film Festival, they’ll be screening “Miwa: A Japanese Icon,” a French documentary on the life and career of the pop culture giant. The documentary consists mostly of an extended interview with the man himself, and it covers a lot of ground: Miwa’s childhood, early career, rise to stardom  and activism for GLBT and working class people.  Additional interviews with provide context about homosexuality’s place in Japanese culture.
“Miwa: A Japanese Icon,” is an invaluable resource for English-language speakers—the film is in French and Japanese, but is, of course, subtitled in English—who want to know more about Miwa. The sequencing is a little off and as a result, it’s sometimes hard to get the chronology straight, but the chance to visit with Miwa’s out-sized personality more than makes up for it.

“Miwa: A Japanese Icon” screens tonight, June 20, 2011 at the Castro Theatre, it will be preceded and followed by ASL-assisted introduction and Q&A session with the director. For more information and tickets, click here.

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