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Japan's tough-guy director Kitano becomes professor
Updated: 2004-12-03 11:36

Japanese actor-director "Beat" Takeshi Kitano, whose often violent films have won him international awards but a mixed reception at home, was named a professor at an elite university even though he is a college dropout.

Japanese actor-director 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano, seen here in 2003, was named a professor at an elite university even though he is a college dropout. [AFP]
Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music announced Kitano, the gruff son of a house painter who began his career as a stand-up comic, will teach filmmaking from the start of the next academic year in April.

"I have not received any education at all about movies and it may sound funny indeed that I give lessons to people about movies," said Kitano, 57.

"But I accept the offer with the belief that it will be a chance to convey to young people the possibilities of expression through movies, in my own way which I have gained without formal education," Kitano said in a statement.

Kitano will head the faculty of screen production division at the university's new graduate school of film and new media in Yokohama.

He won the prize for best director at the 2003 Venice Film Festival with his first period film "Zatoichi," the saga of a travelling blind swordsman.

In 1997, he won Venice's top award, the Golden Lion, for "Hana-bi" ("Fireworks"), a black comedy that was compared by Western audiences to the work of Quentin Tarantino.

But like Akira Kurosawa before him, Kitano has been better received abroad than in Japan.

Much of the domestic audience has been put off by the gruff image of Kitano, who in 1994 nearly died riding drunk on a motorcycle.

Kitano first came to the limelight in the 1970s when he was part of the comedy duo "the Two Beats," who performed in theaters and striptease joints exchanging snappy one-liners about sensitive subjects such as sex and disease.

But the university noted that Kitano had diverse talents, as he has written novels, short stories, essays and poetry.

"He has made international achievements. He is also known as a person with multiple talent including drawing," Ikuo Hirayama, the university's rector, said in announcing his appointment.

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