The Japan Foundation Film Series Part 5: List

The Masters' Gaze on Women in Hanamachi

YOSHIWARA THE PLEASURE QUARTERS / UCHIDA Tomu, 1960
Mar. 17 (Fri. ) 19:00

109 mins. , color, wide (Toei)
Director: UCHIDA Tomu / Screenwriter: YODA Yoshikata / Cinematographer: YOSHIDA Teiji / Art Director: SUZUKI Takatoshi / Music: NAKAMOTO Toshio

Cast: KATAOKA Chiezo, MIZUTANI Yoshie, KIMURA Ko, SANTO Akiko, CHIHARA Shinobu, SAWAMURA Sadako

This film depicts the tragic love of rustic merchant, Jirozaemon, for an ambitious geisha, Tamatsuru, and is set in Edo-period Yoshiwara. Jirozaemon is an honest, hard-working man, but because of the birthmark on his face, he has been unable to get married. When he meets Tamatsuru, he falls hard and spends his fortune on her... Among the re-created magnificent quarters and luxurious costumes, the dazzling spectacle of a powerful drama unfolds. UCHIDA Tomu, famous for A Fugitive from the Past (aka The Straights of Huger)(65) and Miyamoto Musashi series, made this dynamic film based on Kabuki stories.

WOMEN ARE BORN TWICE / KAWASHIMA Yuzo, 1961
Mar. 18 (Sat. ) 13:30

99 mins. , color, wide (Kadokawa Pictures (Daiei))
Director: KAWSHIMA Yuzo / Based on a novel by : TOMITA Tsuneo / Screenwriter: IDE Toshiro, KAWASHIMA Yuzo / Cinematographer: MURAI Hiroshi / Art Director: INOUE Akira / Music: IKENO Shigeru

Cast: WAKAO Ayako, FUJIMAKI Jun, Frankie SAKAI, YAMAMURA So, SAZANKA Kyu, YAMAOKA Hisano

Set in Tokyo in the 1960s, this film shows the gradual transformation of Koen, a young geisha who is not good at music and dance, from carefree creature to a self-aware, mature woman through meeting and parting with a variety of men. KAWASHIMA Yuzo, who excels at directing comedies, shows his strengths here by exposing his heroin’s delicate feelings with pathos. WAKAO Ayako is radiant in her coquettish role. The director and the actress later went on to make such films as Wild Geese Temple (62) and Elegant Beast (62) together. (*16 mm print screening)

THE WORLD OF GEISHA / KUMASHIRO Tatsumi, 1973
Mar. 18 (Sat. ) 18:00

72mins, color, wide (Nikkatsu)
Director: KUMASHIRO Tatsumi / Based on a novel by: NAGAI Kafu / Screenwriter: KUMASHIRO Tatsumi / Cinematographer: HIMEDA Shinsaku / Art Director: KIKUKAWA Yoshie

Cast: MIYASHITA Junko, ESUMI Hideaki, YAMAYA Hatsuo, OKA Naomi, EZAWA Moeko, SERI Meika

The time is around 1918, and inflation and rioting are raging outside, but the women working in a geisha house and men who flock there seem oblivious to it. The film focuses on Sodeko, a top geisha and her customer, the training of Hanamaru, an apprentice; and a fleeting affair between Yuko and her boyfriend, who is soon ordered away to war in Siberia. Cutting back and forth between the dramas among the lovers and archival footage, the creative team headed by director KUMASHIRO Tatsumi made an undisputable classic of Nikkatsu "Roman Porno. "
(*This film has strong sexual content. Viewer discretion is advised. )

THE WOMAN OF THE RUMOR (aka THE WOMAN IN QUESTION) / MIZOGUCHI Kenji, 1954
Mar. 19 (Sun. ) 13:30

83 mins. , B&W, standard (Kadokawa Pictures (Daiei)
Director: MIZOGUCHI Kenji / Screenwriter: YODA Yoshikata, NARUSAWA Masashige / Cinematographer: MIYAGAWA Kazuo / Art Director: MIZUTANI Hiroshi / Music: MAYUZUMI Toshiro

Cast: TANAKA Kinuyo, OTANI Tomoemon, KUGA Yoshiko, SHINDO Eitaro, NANIWA Chieko, MINE Sachiko

Shimabara district of postwar Kyoto is the setting of this mother-daughter drama. The mother runs a restaurant that also functions as a brothel. The daughter is a student at a conservatory in Tokyo, but when her boyfriend breaks off their engagement on learning of her family business, she attempts suicide and is taken back home. The daughter then forms a relationship with a doctor, only to learn that he has been her mother’s lover all along. After spending some time home, the daughter begins to empathize with the prostitutes, her mother, and the plight of women. MIZOGUCHI Kenji, known for his masterful portrayals of women working in pleasure quarters, made this film during one of his most productive periods, after The Life of Oharu (52), Ugetsu (53) and Sansho the Bailiff (54).

UNDER SILK GARMENTS / YOSHIMURA Kozaburo, 1951
Mar. 19 (Sun. ) 15:30

103mins. , B&W, standard (Kadokawa Pictures (Daiei))
Director: YOSHIMURA Kozaburo / Screenwriter: SHINDO Kaneto / Cinematographer: NAKAI Asakazu / Art Director: MIZUTANI Hiroshi / Music: IFUKUBE Akira

Cast: KYO Machiko, FUJITA Yasuko, TAKIHANA Hisako, MURATA Chieko, KOBAYASHI Keiju, SUGAI Ichiro

Set after WWII in the Gion district of Kyoto, the film depicts the lives of a mother and her two daughters and many aspects of geisha life. Kiku, who used to be a top geisha, has two daughters. Kimicho follows in her mother’s steps, but in a decidedly postwar manner, by dropping patrons when they run out of money. Taeko, the more quiet type, works in a municipal government but her modest hopes to marry her boyfriend is met by his mother’s opposition… In one sense, the film is screen writer SHINDO Kaneto’s homage to his former master, MIZOGUCHI Kenji. Director YOSHIMURA Kozaburo deftly handles his female characters, andKYO Machiko plays the daughter who became a geisha with vivid vitality.

NIHONBASHI / ICHIKAWA Kon, 1956
Mar. 19 (Sun. ) 18:00

111 mins. , color, standard (Kadokawa Pictures (Daiei))
Director: ICHIKAWA Kon / Based on a novel by : IZUMI Kyoka / Screenwriter: WADA Natto / Cinematographer: WATANABE Kimio / Art Director: SHIBATA Tokuji / Music: TAKU Koji

Cast: AWASHIMA Chikage, YAMAMOTO Fujiko, WAKAO Ayako, SHINAGAWA Ryuji, YANAGI Eijiro, FUNAKOSHI Eijii

This melodrama is set in the Nihonbashi district of Tokyo at the beginning of the twentieth-century. Kiyoha and Oko are rival geishas. Kiyoha is very beautiful, but proud and at times cold to admiring men. Oko at one time falls in love with a man whom Kiyoha just left. The two central characters, their respective patrons and former patrons weave a tapestry of complicated relationships. The prolific ICHIKAWA Kon depicts a world of geisha and the fierce struggle between beautiful women. Based on a novel by IZUMI Kyoka, the work shows AWASHIMA Chikage, YAMAMOTO Fujiko and WAKAO Ayako in full bloom.

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