Godzilla Film Festival
Little Tokyo, located in California in the Los Angeles District, presents Nisei Week every summer with a Japanese Festival celebrating Japanese culture in America. August 3, 1996 was a very special day during Nisei Week's 56th annual Event. A Godzilla Film Festival was held at the Japan America Theatre featuring three Toho Godzilla films. Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla vs. Hedorah, & Terror of MechaGodzilla. All three films had two showings proving to be an all day event.
In addition to the Film Festival, Godzilla would make an appearence during the opening program and again before the start of the second screening of the three films. The program started with speeches from various district council personel and a live marial arts demenstration.
Appearence of Godzilla in Los Angeles
Godzilla is introduced and comes out to greet the crowd of fan that are roped off the give the King of the Monsters some stomping room.
Godzilla is then interview roaring his answers. When asked how Godzilla felt about Los Angeles, Godzilla roared back and was translated saying he liked how smoggy Los Angeles is. Curiously, Godzilla sported a black cloth covering his spines.
Godzilla is distracted by a photographer.
Once Godzilla becomes bored with the interview, he turns and focuses on the crowd.
Ninjas stand ready to protect the crowd from Godzilla's rage. Yet the ninjas know they are no match against Godzilla.
Photographers flee to avoid Godzilla's path of destruction.
Godzilla focus on the many spectators that have gathered to chant Godzilla's name.
Uncharacteristic, Godzilla restrains himself from destroying Los Angeles and admires all his western fans that have come to see him
As the start of the Film Festival draws near, the Ninjas cautiously guide Godzilla away from his fans and makes his exit. But this wasn't the last we see of Godzilla.
It is believe that the Godzilla suit, that was shipped from Japan and used for the openning and second presentation was an "attraction costume" used to promote the Toho film "Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla.
It's been reported that the black cloth placed on the Godzilla suit's spines were a result of the suit being left open to allow air to easily enter the suit to allow the suit actor to be more comfortable during his performance as Godzilla
Godzilla would make a third appearence during Nisei Week as Parade Marshal for the festival's annual march down First Street in downtown Los Angeles.
It's been reported that the suit actor endured stress and heat exhaustion during both performances as Godzilla during the Film Festival and was decided to secure Godzilla on a vehicle during the parade without the support of a suit actor.
The Toho films shown during the Film Festival "Destroy All Monsters" and "Godzilla vs. Hedorah" were both dubbed, but if I remember right "Terror of MechaGodzilla" was a International print of the Japanese version and was subtitled.
I've had several opportunities to attend many Film Festivals that featured Godzilla films. As fun as those events have been, Nisei Week's Godzilla Film Festival 1996 will always have a special place for me as it was my first Godzilla Film Festival during a time I was reintroduced to Godzilla and just learning how his film career has continued in Japan during the 90's. To see an official Godzilla attraction suit was a pure pleasure since it was the first time I have seen an actual Godzilla suit used to promote Godzilla's films in Japan. A Godzilla suit had been scheduled to appear in downtown Los Angeles in 2000 to celebrate the announcement of "Godzilla Week" in conjunction with G-Fest's annual event in Hollywood and later at San Diego's Comic Con, but was surprisingly cancelled by Sony. But nothing would keep Godzilla from returning to California in 2005 to accept his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and attend the Premiere of his last film "Godzilla, Final Wars" at the famous Chinese Theater.
While Little Tokyo continues to celebrate Nisei Week's Japanese Festival every year, I am unaware if the event has held another Godzilla Film Festival since.
Additional information provided by Richard Pusateri and Armand Vaquer.
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