The Ballad of Ken Ogata

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Japanese actor Ken Ogata, who starred in a number of films for the great director Shohei Imamura, died of liver cancer on Sunday. He was 71. Ogata is perhaps best known to an international audience for his role in Imamura’s The Ballad of Narayama, in which he played a man who, by village tradition, has to leave his elderly mother up a nearby mountain to die; the film won the Palme d’Or and Ogata won the Japanese equivalent of the best actor Oscar in 1984. In total he was nominated 11 times for the gong, winning three times. Other collaborations with Imamura include Vengeance Is Mine (1979), Eijanaika (1981) and Zegen (1987).

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