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March 9, 1998

"Aroma of Enchantment" to air on Community Television

By Barbara McKenna

When a magazine collector in Japan described the allure of America to young Japanese, he told film director Chip Lord that America has an "aroma of enchantment." Lord knew he had just heard the title for his documentary-in-progress. That documentary, The Aroma of Enchantment (1992), will be cablecast on Community Television, Channel 72, at 8 p.m. on March 15 and at 4:30 p.m. on March 18 on the show UCSC Forum.

The film, which has won a number of awards and been screened in prestigious film festivals around the world, is a thought-provoking exploration of the "idea of America" held by many Japanese. These impressions, often ideals, emerged in large part from the post-World War II American occupation of Japan and from American advertising images from the 1950s.

The Aroma of Enchantment interweaves historical material on General MacArthur and the American occupation of Japan with reminiscences by a variety of Japanese who connect their concept of "America" to the post-war occupation period, when images of America were powerfully influential in Japan.

In the film, Lord connects interviews with such people as a magazine collector and a female jazz singer to his own experiences as a foreigner in Japan. Since its completion in 1992, the film has been shown in such festivals as the Hawaii International Film Festival, the Image Forum Festival in Japan, and the Dallas Video Festival. Awards include the National Educational Film Festival Award, Hawaii International Film Festival honoree, Image Forum Festival (Tokyo) honoree, Atlanta Film Festival honoree, Museum of Modern Art honoree.

Lord is a professor of theater arts at UCSC, where he teaches courses in film and video. He filmed The Aroma of Enchantment during a 1991 fellowship in Tokyo with the U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission. Lord says that during the filming he discovered that "The idea that many Japanese have about America derives from the post­World War II years and from media images at the time, such as ads depicting big cars and suburban homes. That Norman Rockwell idea of America has remained alive in the Japanese imagination."

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