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Japanese Magic Lantern Show To Light Up Academy Theater

Celebrating the centuries-old Japanese magic lantern tradition of Utsushi-e -- a blend of moving images, light, color, music, storytelling and traditional art -- the Minwa-za Company of Tokyo will make its American premiere performance on Wednesday, July 2, at 8 p.m. at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood.

The program, presented by the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will re-create and examine the uniquely Japanese art form using reproductions of lanterns and slides of the Edo era.

Led by Minwa-za of Tokyo director Fumio Yamagata, the evening will include a technical presentation on the inner workings of the Utsushi-e rear-projection technology as well as a demonstration of the skills required for a performance.

Created more than a century before the invention of film, Utsushi-e represents one of the earliest forms of projection technology and in many respects is a forerunner of modern filmmaking. In contrast to traditional Western magic lantern shows, which used single-lantern front projection, Japanese magic lantern shows relied on a combination of fixed and hand-held rear-projection techniques, drawing on some elements of European phantasmagoria and incorporating the traditions of Asian shadow shows and puppet theater.

Utsushi-e used six or more magic lanterns positioned behind a long semi-transparent paper screen. The lanterns and slides were constructed of balsa wood, making them lightweight and easy to manipulate; in some cases slides with moving parts were also used. Utsushi-e performers developed elaborate projection techniques whose effects might be described in filmmaking terms as cuts, fades, dissolves, double exposures and zooms.

Established in 2003 by the Academy's Board of Governors, the Science and Technology Council provides a forum for the exchange of information, promotes cooperation among diverse technological interests within the industry, sponsors publications, fosters educational activities and preserves the history of science and technology of motion pictures.

Tickets to "The Minwa-za Company of Tokyo" are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Tickets are available for purchase by mail, at the Academy box office, or online at www.oscars.org. Doors open at 7 p.m. All seating is unreserved.

The Linwood Dunn Theater is located at 1313 Vine Street in Hollywood. Free parking is available through the entrance on Homewood Avenue (one block north of Fountain Avenue).

For additional information, visit www.oscars.org or call (310) 247-3600.

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