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Japanese film festival: BFI Southbank (London, 3-31 July 08)

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2008 6:29 pm    Post subject: Japanese film festival: BFI Southbank (London, 3-31 July 08) Reply with quote

Japanese Gems

The BFI (British Film Institute) is honouring the memory of the great Japanese film ambassador Madame Kawakita with a season of work from eight award-winning Japanese directors including Akira Kurosawa, Nagisa Oshima and Seijun Suzuki.

The season will run from 3-31 July 2008. For full details of the films being shown and to book tickets online, go to this page and click on "All films":

The BFI Southbank is next to the National Theatre. The nearest Tube is Waterloo. For details of how to get there, see:

--- Further information ---

The West's discovery of Japanese cinema is usually dated from 1951, the year when Kurosawa's Rashomon won its Golden Lion in Venice. Actually, the story began much earlier: in 1928, a young man named Nagamasa Kawakita brought a fine selection of Japanese movies to Europe. He then went on to concentrate on importing the best of European cinema into Japan, while his remarkable wife, Kashiko, founded a philanthropic organisation to bridge the culture gap between Japan and the West. Madame Kawakita sadly died in 1993, but the Kawakita Memorial Film Institute lives on as a valuable resource.

The eight directors represented in this treasure-chest of a programme lived through Japan's post-war economic and social upheavals and played a big part in transforming its culture. Often they responded directly to what they saw in the streets or read in their newspapers: all eight of them made brilliant social commentaries which we will screen throughout July. Yoji Yamada focused on the convivial aspects of working-class life that were in danger of disappearing, these can be seen in films such as A Wedding (Kazoku, 1970) and Tora-sanís Sunrise and Sunset (Otoko-wa Tsurai-yo: Torajiro Yuyake Koyake, 1976). Shohei Imamura made Black Rain (Kuroi Ame, 1989) set five years after the Hiroshima bomb; and Nagisa Oshima used the story of a real-life sex murderer as a template for Violence at Noon (Hakucha no Torima, 1965). Sumiko Haneda showed the miraculous survival of old traditions with films such as Akiko: Portrait of a Dancer (Akiko: Aru Dancer no Shozo, 1985) while Kaneto Shindo highlighted the continuing hardships of some peasant lives in the compelling Oniba (1964), part fable, part allegory and part horror film.

Many of these directors also took fresh looks at Japan's history; Oshima's The Ceremony provactively re-reads the postwar decades across the story of one family. Kurosawa and Shindo offered equally challenging takes on feudal Japan. And Seijun Suzuki led the way in shaking up the yakuza and thriller genres. These 24 films add up to a panorama of a unique culture re-thinking its past and analysing its present. A fitting tribute to the memory of Kashiko Kawakita: the first lady of Japanese film.
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