The Japan Foundation Film Series Part 8: List

Rediscovery of Japanese Cinema


Door open: 15 mins. before

The Ball at the AnjoHouse (Anjo-ke no Butokai)
May 25 (Fri.) 19:00

1947 / 89min. / B&W, Standard / Production&Distribution: Shochiku Co., Ltd.
Director: YOSHIMURA Kozaburo / Screenwriter: SHINDO Kaneto / Cinematographer: UBUKATA Toshio / Art Director: HAMADA Tatsuo / Music: KINOSHITA Tadashi

Cast: TAKIZAWA Osamu, MORI Masayuki, IRIE Takako, HARA Setsuko, HIMORI Shinichi, SHIMIZU Masao

Affected by the post WWII social and economic reforms removing all their privileges, the former aristocrat Anjo family faces their dire decline.  The film portrays the destiny of each family member when the last ball takes place before their mansion gets sold; a vain father, a cynical son, a proud elder daughter, and a realistic younger daughter...
Their wishes and longings are interwoven as the night passes.  SHINDO Kaneto wrote this dexterous script inspired by Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard. The casting is also superb and contributes to the magnificent unfolding of the drama. This is one of the most important works of YOSHIMURA Kozaburo, who excelled at portraying women. This also is the first fruit of the YOSHIMURA–SHINDO collaboration.

Twelve Pairs of Eyes (Nijushi no Hitomi)
May 26 (Sat.) 13:00

1954 / 155min. / B&W, Standard / Production&Distribution: Shochiku Co., Ltd.
Director, Screenwriter: KINOSHITA Keisuke / Based on a novel by: TSUBOI Sakae / Cinematographer: KUSUDA Hiroyuki / Art Director: NAKAMURA Kimihiko / Music: KINOSHITA Tadashi

Cast: TAKAMINE Hideko, AMAMOTO Hideyo, YASHIRO Toshiyuki, KINOSHITA Naotora, NATSUKAWA Shizue, RYU Chisyu

Set in Shodoshima, a small island in the Inland Sea, the film depicts the story of a teacher and her 12 pupils over the course of 18 years from 1928 to 1946. Miss Oishi begins teaching at a tiny school, treating every child with care and affection. Her 12 charges learn and grow amid poverty and difficulties at home. Then come the war with China and WWII, and many boys go off to become soldiers. The film gently looks at the often tragic lives of the teacher and the pupils, and the bond between them. TAKAMINE Hideko gives an outstanding performance and the non-actor children add authenticity to the drama. This is one of the most memorable films by KINOSHITA Keisuke, who is best known for his Carmen Comes Home (1951), the first color film made in Japan.

Where Chimneys Are Seen (Entotsu no Mieru Basho)
May 26 (Sat.) 16:30

1953 / 108min. / B&W, Standard / Distributor: International Television & Films, Inc. (Production: Shintoho )
Director: GOSHO Heinosuke / Screenwriter: OGUNI Hideo /  Based on a novel by: SHIINA Rinzo / Cinematographer: MIURA Mitsuo / Art Director: SIMOGAWARA Tomoo / Music: AKUTAGAWA Yasushi

Cast: UEHARA Ken, TANAKA Kinuyo, AKUTAGAWA Hiroshi, TAKAMINE Hideko, SEKI Chieko, TANAKA Haruo

A witty drama set in Kita-Senju, a working-class part of Tokyo where the phantom chimneys are seen. Depending on where they are viewed from, there appear to be two, three, or four smokestacks. A couple, Hiroko and Ryukichi, lives a humble life, having two lodgers on the second floor of their home. Trouble storms them in the form of a baby left on their doorstep, accompanied by a letter saying that the baby is Hiroko’s former husband’s. Confusion and misunderstanding follow, but in the end kindness and sympathy prevail. The film was shown at the third Berlin International Film Festival (1953), and received the International Peace Award among others. GOSHO Heinosuke is widely known for works portraying the lives of ordinary people, such as The Neighbor’s Wife and I (1931, the first “talkie” made in Japan), Once More (1947), and The Yellow Crow (1957).

Crucified Lovers (Chikamatsu Monogatari)
May 26 (Sat.) 19:00

1954 / 102min. / B&W, Standard / Distributor: Kadokawa Pictures, Inc. (Production: Daiei )
Director: MIZOGUCHI Kenji / Screenwriter: YODA Yoshikata / Based on a play by: CHIKAMATSU Monzaemon / Cinematographer: MIYAGAWA Kazuo / Art Director: MIZUTANI Hiroshi / Music: HAYASAKA Fumio


Along with Ugetsu (1953) and Sansho the Bailiff (1954), this is one of the greatest films by MIZOGUCHI Kenji, who continues to inspire and influence filmmakers around the globe. Basing his work on a play by famed playwright CHIKAMATSU Monzaemon entitled Daikyoji Mukashi Goyomi, Mizoguchi shows us a tightly woven drama around tragic lovers. The script, the camera, and the artistic direction form a perfect ensemble, and the actors KAGAWA Kyoko and HASEGAWA Kazuo respond with passionate performances. The black-and-white images are at times unbearably beautiful. A grand scroll-master in Kyoto, Ishun, is a powerful man. Osan, his younger second wife, gets into trouble when her family asks her to lend them some money. Being unable to ask her stingy husband, she seeks advices from the trusted store clerk, Mohei. Their behavior then is misunderstood to be adulterous and the two are wrongly persecuted. As they flee their pursuers, the two realize that they are actually in love with each other.

Elegant Beast (Shitoyakana Kedamono)     *Brand new 35mm print!
May 27 (Sun.) 13:00

1962 / 96min. / Color, Cinema scope / Distributor: Kadokawa Pictures, Inc. (Production: Daiei )
Director: KAWASHIMA Yuzo / Screenwriter: SHINDO Kaneto / Based on a novel by: SHINDO Kaneto / Cinematographer: MUNEKAWA Nobuo / Art Director: SHIBATA Tokuji / Music: IKENO Sei

Cast: WAKAO Ayako, ITO Yunosuke, YAMAOKA Hisano, KAWABATA Aiko, HAMADA Yuko, TAKAMATSU Hideo

A black comedy from KAWASHIMA Yuzo, who is famous for leaving several truly original works before his early death at 45. This is the third film in which he featured WAKAO Ayako in the starring role, following Women Are Born Twice (1961) and Wild Geese Temple (1962). The Maeda family lives in a tiny apartment. Under the leadership of the father, the family members strive to scrape money off others. The son embezzles money at work, and the daughter skims men using her physical charm. People around the Maeda’s are easily victimized, except for one person... Shot entirely within the small rooms of an apartment, the director succeeds in demonstrating every possible camera angle and fully utilizing the playful script and the variety of characters. The result is this remarkably entertaining film.

Girls of Dark (Onna Bakari no Yoru)
May 27 (Sun.) 17:00

1961 / 95min. / B&W, Cinema scope / Production&Distribution: Toho Co., Ltd.
Director: TANAKA Kinuyo / Screenwriter: TANAKA Sumie / Based on a novel by: YAN Masako / Cinematographer: NAKAI Tomokazu / Art Director: KOJIMA Motoji / Music: HAYASHI Hikaru

Cast: HARA Chisako, KITA Akemi, NANIWA Chieko, TOMINAGA Misako, TAGAMI Kazue, KAGAWA Kyoko

TANAKA Kinuyo not only fulfilled a long career as an actress starring in the works of such masters as KINOSHITA Keisuke, GOSHO Heinosuke and MIZOGUCHI Kenji, but also as a director of six feature films as the second female director (after SAKANE Tazuko) in the history of Japanese cinema. This is her fifth work, and it depicts women confronted by injustice and hypocrisy in the society. Kuniko is a former prostitute living in a correctional facility after prostitution was made illegal in 1958. As a model inmate, Kuniko is released and given work but still faces prejudice and discrimination. Despite the hardships, Kuniko makes a fresh start and searches for independence. HARA Chisako gives a refreshing performance, and the film benefits greatly from powerful ensemble performance.

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