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Japanese Cinema

Japan Cuts New York 2015

Japan Cuts is the largest annual festival of Japanese films in the United States celebrating its 9th edition from July 9-19 at New York’s Japan Society. It is no longer tied to the New York Asian Film Festival and offered a comprehensive survey of current Japanese cinema. The selection ranged from the bizarre, to the popular, to art house productions, films which were never shown before in New York with half of the titles North American premieres. The 2015 program had 28 features, i...

New York: Japan Cuts

Presented by New York’s Japan Society with some corporate support from UNIQLO, Sapporo, Sony and private assistance, the eighth edition of Japan Cuts, The New York Festival of Contemporary Japanese Cinema was held from July 10-20. Its program featured 27 feature films, of which 17 were not shown before in the US, and overlapped with the New York Asian Film Festival which carried 13 of the Japan Cuts selections.  Among the few festivals celebrating Japanese films in the United S...

Between the Comic and the Tragic: An Interview With Director Kenji Yamauchi

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In his feature film debut “Being Mitsuko” which had its world premiere on October 13 at the Warsaw Film Festival, Japanese director Kenji Yamauchi walks a fine genre line between the comic and the tragic. And it works. Imbued with a strong dose of black humor and absurdist elements, Yamauchi has crafted an intricate narrative that revolves around the lives of Mitsuko and Emi Shinozaki, two 20-something sisters living in their family house in suburban Tokyo.  But there is hardly...

Second ZIPANGU FEST to kick off at London's ICA

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This year’s celebration of cutting edge Japanese cinema will get under way from November 17th to 24th Following the success of last year’s inaugural festival, the second Zipangu Fest – celebrating the best of cutting edge and avant garde Japanese cinema – will be held at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts from November 17th to 24th, before moving to venues around the UK. Showcasing a selection of Japan’s finest features, documentaries, shorts, anima...

Karate Girl

Hardest Men in Town: Yakuza Chronicles of Sin, Sex & Violence

March 9-19, 2011

This season, the Globus Film Series presents the Japanese gangster movie genre through its various avatars, transformations and contradictions, from 1960s productions featuring chivalrous kimono-clad, sword-wielding gangsters and gamblers to today's ruthless gun-toting villains dealing in debt, hustling hardcore porn and scheming and scamming in dark trades and deeds. Over the past 50 years, they've remained snarling, swaggering, tattooed and inexplicably sexy. In the line-up, there will be blood and broken bones, hookers and hopheads, and plenty of juicy political blackmail… in 15 films that rack up the stiffs like Jacobean tragedies and show grand visions of manly amity and betrayal: classics and lesser known titles by Kinji Fukasaku, Takashi Miike (Dead or Alive), Hideo Gosha (The Wolves), Takeshi Kitano (Outrage), Rokuro Mochizuki (A Yakuza In Love, Onibi: The Fire Within) and Sydney Pollack (The Yakuza), among other offerings you can't refuse.

The violent romantic world of the yakuza (the Japanese mafia) steeped in cryptic ritual and customs involving full-body tattoos and missing digits, has long excited the imagination, decades before viewers started existing on a diet of Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire melodrama, and has been one of the mainstays of the Japanese film industry since the 1960s. Harking back to the days when samurai still embodied traditionalist values of honor, selfless duty (giri) and the noble warrior spirit (ninkyo) on the silver screen, the shadowy demimonde of organized crime (which included wandering gamblers and lowly peddlers) rivaled with the noble swordsmen as the representatives of honor and heroism, in the context of a rapidly changing society trying to come to terms with a shameful defeat. In the darkness of movie theaters, they became the very picture of superhuman macho cool and reptilian menace.

Zipangu Fest X Close-Up: Nippon Year Zero @ Bethnal Green Working Man's Club

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I was the filmmaking volunteer for the first ever edition of the Zipangu Fest and attended every single event. The Fest opened with a collaboration with Close-Up (film library - http://www.closeupfilmcentre.com/) - Nippon Year Zero. A programme focused on Japanese 60's  and 70's experimental shorts:  War GamesDir. Donald Richie, 1962, 22min, 16mm Sparse and lingering - an interesting study of innocence and the essence of civilization.     Dead YouthDir. Donald Richie, 19...

The Remarkable Universe of Masahiro Shinoda

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  Running parallel to the stellar film program of this year's New York Film Festival is a finely curated retrospective series of films from Japanese director Masahiro Shinoda. This prominent director of the Japanese New Wave was fascinated by traditional Japanese aesthetics and the modernity of cinema (and of the transformed Japan of the 1960s, when he started his film career, through to the present). Shinoda's movies detail the spiritual emptiness of post-war Japanese life and search f...

*Raindance Preview Review* Autumn Adagio [2009] dir Tsuki Inoue

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"Autumn Adagio" is Tsuki Inoue's first feature, made with the money she won for the Grand Prize in Yubari the previous with "The Woman Who is Beating the Earth" (more on this film later).      It tells the story of a repressed 40-year old nun, who through three encounters with different men, reflects on her femininity and her life. She meets a tedious middle aged man who cannot stop bothering her, a ballet dancer who advises her to play...

Mad, Bad... & Dangerous to Know: Three Untamed Beauties

March 31 - April 18 At the opposite end of the stereotype of docile Japanese women—heroic good mothers, chaste daughters and hardworking faithful wives—actresses Ayako Wakao, Mariko Okada and Meiko Kaji embodied the transgression of limits, breaking rules, flouting norms and generally upsetting everyone. This series explores the idea of unconventional beauty that these spellbinding actresses created through an unparalleled body of films. Both Wakao and Okada were muses and inspiration for two major film directors, Yasuzo Masumura and Kiju (Yoshishige) Yoshida, respectively, while Kaji navigated between filmmakers, a wild card of Japanese cinema at the time. Put together, their films delineate what one could call an aesthetic of “convulsive beauty” (André Breton). Featuring a line-up of 13 films of many different genre, from anti-melodrama to jidaigeki, girl gang movies to women in prison films, with entries from Kiju Yoshida, Yasuzo Masumura and Toshiya Fujita. Don't miss the DRESSED TO KILL party following the opening screening of "Tattoo," Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 7:30 PM. Visit http://www.japansociety.org/content.cfm/mad_bad__dangerous_to_know for full line-up and schedule. Buy Tickets Online or please call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm, Weekends 11 am - 5 pm.

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