Dr. Naoki Yamamoto joined the Film and Media Studies Department in July 2013. His research interests encompass film theory—specifically Japanese film theory—Asian cinema, political filmmaking, avant-garde art movements, post-colonial studies, and Japanese cultural history. Currently, he is working on a book project titled Realities That Matter: The Development of Realist Film Theory and Practice in Japan, 1900-1950. The first study to focus on realist film theory in Japan, Realities That Matter seeks to establish a new platform for a genuinely comparative and transnational historiography of film theory. As Professor Yamamoto notes in a recent interview, the motivation behind this project is his profound discontent with the invisibility of critical voices from the non-West in the creation and circulation of classical film theory. To remedy this discursive imbalance, his book illuminates the work of long-neglected Japanese thinkers, who, in parallel with their Western counterparts, strove to theorize cinema’s ability to alter the very notion of the real, its penetrating power to mediate the masses and their everyday life.
An international scholar, Professor Yamamoto was trained in both Japan and the United States. He received a Ph.D. from Yale University, where he was under the tutelage of distinguished film scholars and specialists of Japanese modern culture, including Dudley Andrew, John Treat, and Aaron Gerow. At Yale, he has taught courses on introduction to Film Studies, Japanese cinema, Japanese popular culture, Hollywood in the 21st Century, and contemporary Asian cinema. His course on Contemporary Asian cinema, for instance, addressed how people living in this region have embraced film as a privileged means to critically reflect on their shifting local identities in the age of globalization.
A native of Japan, Professor Yamamoto had his first exposure to film studies at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo. At Meiji Gakuin, he studied with prominent Japanese film scholars such as Yomota Inuhiko and Saito Ayako, receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Art Studies with an emphasis in film. Naturally, he has published both in English and Japanese on a variety of topics, including the reception of early Hollywood films in 1910s Japan, wartime German-Japanese co-productions, and the Japanese New Wave film director Yoshida Kiju. He has also written short articles or reviews for film festival catalogues, while at the same time translating a number of English scholarly works into Japanese.
At UCSB, he will teach Film Theory at both undergraduate and graduate levels, and his primary focus goes to the theories produced prior to 1960. However, these courses equally examine how current scholarship reevaluates those classical texts in light of ongoing changes in cinema today, especially with respect to digitalization and globalization. In the spring 2014, Professor Yamamoto will offer two courses, FLMST 165DJ “Disaster in Japanese Cinema” and FLMST 187PF “Post-fascist Cinema”: the former examines a series of Japanese postwar films by focusing on issues such as atomic bombings and their after-effects, industrial pollutions in Minamata and Niigata, and ongoing nuclear disasters in Fukushima; the later is a focused study of selected works of Pasololini, Fassbinder, and Oshima and discusses how these radical directors from the former Axis countries developed a similar set of topics—social minorities, sexual exploitation, and collective amnesia of the past—in their cinematic revolt against the authorities.
Professor Yamamoto hopes that students will enjoy his classes, where he teaches how to develop a critical eye in order to see films from a different perspective.
Most importantly, Professor Yamamoto wants to guide students as they find their own way in life. His teaching philosophy, he says, is to learn from his students, while teaching, collaborating, and communicating with them. Aside from his teaching, Professor Yamamoto is a regular guy with hobbies of his own. He likes to play and listen to music—he plays the bass and drums—and when he lived in Japan in the early 2000s, he was traveling the country in a band! He was also an assistant Chef before going to graduate school in Japan, and worked at a Spanish restaurant in Tokyo’s Kagurazaka area. He still carries those skills and passion for cooking with him today. The most important thing that Professor Yamamoto wants to share is that one should “have lots of possibilities in life that would allow you to be happy.” He is honored to be able to teach in the Film and Media Studies Department at UCSB and enjoys being part of Santa Barbara’s thriving community.
Film/Media 165DJ DISASTER IN JAPANESE CINEMA TR 6:30-8:50pm
Film/Media 187PF SEMINAR: POST FACIST CINEMA T R 1:00 - 3:20pm