Classmates honor Kutler by studying Japanese director

 

By Sammy Roth

To honor their former classmate Brendan Kutler, six Directed Studies in the Cinema students presented “The Films of Akira Kurosawa” as a seminar on Senior Transition Day.

Kutler had planned to do his directed studies end-of-year project on Kurosawa, an acclaimed Japanese director. After Kutler died in his sleep in December, all but one of the Directed Studies in the Cinema students decided to drop their own projects and work on Kutler’s.

Jesse Orrall ’10 said the decision to switch from his own project to Kurosawa was not difficult.

“For me it was a really easy decision because Brendan was so excited about Kurosawa,” Orrall said.

Forty-nine students signed up for the seminar. Kutler’s parents, Jon and Sara Kutler, were also in attendance.

It was the only seminar which was not about transitioning to college and was also the only one to last two periods instead of one.

“It was a unique event,” Cinema Studies teacher Ted Walch said. “It seemed the right time and the right place to honor Brendan in this way.”

Seniors Jacob Gindi, Reid Lidow, Kyle Martin-Patterson, Jesse Orrall, Austin Park and Graham Parkes made presentations about Kurosawa’s films. Anthony Bundak ’10 intended to make a presentation, but got sick the night before and was unable to participate, Walch said.

Walch was pleased with how the seminar went.

“Without any exaggeration I can say that the seminar was one of the highlights of my teaching career,” Walch said. “The clarity, composure and compactness with which each student made his presentation spoke to the thoroughness of their preparation.”

Orrall said he was “a little freaked out” during rehearsal about how the presentation would go, but that everything worked out perfectly in the end.

“I was thrilled with how everyone did,” Orrall said. “They had great things to say and showed awesome clips.”

Many clips had no dialogue, which was part of Kurosawa’s style.

“Kurosawa has a really good way of conveying emotion via action, and not dialogue,” Gindi said while explaining the film, “Ran,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “King Lear.”

“I know that Brendan was very interested in Japanese culture,” Orrall said. “I always assumed that it was natural that he would be interested in Kurosawa.”

During the seminar, the students and Walch wore matching shirts reading “AK BK,” for Kurosawa and Kutler.

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