Press Release

Japanese Studies Center honors Eastwood for "Letters from Iwo Jima"

| 21 January 2009

Actor and director Clint Eastwood will receive the first-ever Berkeley Japan New Vision Award from the University of California, Berkeley's Center for Japanese Studies on Friday, Jan. 23, for his role in creating a new vision of Japan - particularly during World War II - through his award-winning film, "Letters from Iwo Jima."

The 2006 film, almost entirely in Japanese, tells the story of the famous February to March 1945 battle from the perspective of Japanese soldiers on the island that underwent a major military buildup in 1944 in anticipation of an invasion by U.S. forces. All civilians were evacuated before U.S. Marines arrived to capture the island's airfields for use in a planned air assault on Japan. Of 21,000 Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima, more than 20,000 were killed.

"Letters from Iwo Jima" was a companion piece to Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers" (2006), which explored the same event from the viewpoint of U.S. soldiers. It was at Iwo Jima that photographer Joe Rosenthal took what turned out to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning and iconic photo of six Marines raising the U.S. flag.

In addition to the award ceremony, the Center for Japanese Studies will host a scholars' roundtable about "Letters from Iwo Jima" from 2-4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23, at the Berkeley Art Museum Theater. Participants will include moderator Andrew Barshay, a UC Berkeley history professor, and presenters Carol Gluck, a Columbia University historian; history professor Takashi Fujitani of UC San Diego, and Akira Lippit, a professor of cinematic arts at the University of Southern California. The roundtable will be free and open to the public.

The original print of the Eastwood film will be screened at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23, at the Pacific Film Archive Theater at 2621 Durant Ave. After the screening, Eastwood will make comments and field questions. Tickets are $20 per person and are sold out. However, to sign up for a waiting list, contact the Japanese Studies Center on campus at 2223 Fulton St., Room 500, or call (510) 642-3156).

Iris Yamashita, a UC Berkeley alumna who wrote the Academy Award-nominated screenplay for "Letters from Iwo Jima," will be unable to attend the events.

The Center for Japanese Studies turns 50 this academic year and is hosting numerous public events in celebration of its anniversary. A list is online at the center's Web site at:

Last semester, the center awarded another prize, its inaugural 2008 Berkeley Japan Prize for lifetime achievement, to acclaimed Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. The author visited UC Berkeley classes to talk with students and gave an address to a packed house at Zellerbach Hall.

That prize was established to honor individuals whose work shows a commitment to deepening and furthering our understanding of Japan on a global level.