Welcome to the first in a new series at www.kamera.co.uk foccussing on the state of international cinema.

Over the coming months, we’ll be circumnavigating the globe in search of the brightest, most imaginative and most challenging cinema from around the world. We’ll be exploring the state of the film industries of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe; we’ll be riding the crest of the new wave of films from South America, particularly from Brazil; and we’ll be going down-under to examine the way Australia and New Zealand are trying to carve out their own individual niche in the face of Hollywood domination. And yes, we might even set out to try and explain why, despite continual proclamations to the contrary, the British still aren’t coming.

But that’s only the beginning. As the ideas flow and interest in our special issues grows, we’ll be doing our utmost to expand our range of coverage with new countries, exclusive interviews, and festival reports from faraway lands. We hope you’ll enjoy the journey.

In the inaugural issue, we’ve chosen to focus on the strange, wonderful and often incomprehensible world of Japanese cinema. There’s nothing quite like a Japenese film – from gritty yakuza dramas to stomach-churning body-horrors to weird science-fiction fantasies, Japan’s film industry has carved out an entirely individual and utterly unmistakeable identity for itself. The range, sophistication and sheer imagination of contemporary Japanese filmmaking puts most of the global competition in the shade, and only serves to show up the dreadful deficiencies in our own industry back here in old Blighty.

In order to reflect the diversity of Japanese cinema old and new, we’ve put together a varied selection of reviews and features from kamera writers. We’ve got reviews of two new films from a brace of Japan’s brightest talents, Hideo Nakata and Takeshi Kitano. We’ve also got a two-part profile of Beat Takeshi, a retrospective of the samurai film genre, and an excellent bluffer’s guide to Japanese cinema by John Gorick. Obviously there are many more directors, films and features we would have liked to have included, but in the limited space available, I think we’ve put together a pretty eclectic and original collection of articles on contemporary filmmaking in the Land of the Rising Sun. Let us know what you think of the new ideas.

Thanks for reading, and happy viewing.

Oliver Berry