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Nagisa Oshima

Nagisa Oshima, Edinburgh, August 21, 1983. Photo: Steve Pyke/Getty Images.

“OSHIMA’S A BASTARD. Whatever you do, don’t invite him!” more than one colleague counseled when I was organizing a retrospective of the Japanese master’s films in 1988. Fortunately, I ignored their advice. Generous, funny, unaccountably serene, Nagisa Oshima proved the most amenable of guests, sharing my (then) passion for the films of Theo Angelopoulos, entertain­ing Toronto audiences with long, scotch-lubricated Q&As—“Please give me money for my next film!” he mock-pleaded after a screening of Max, Mon Amour (1986)—and deflecting with amused resignation a frenzied group of Japanese tourists who descended upon him at the Art Gallery of Ontario. (He was famous at home more as a confrontational television talk show host and sartorial dandy than as a film director.) The angry insurgent whose work is among the most corrosive of all postwar cinema—“I would like to fight

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