Following on from its showing at the Institute of Contemporary Arts the Zipangu Japanese film festival moves to Newcastle’s Star and Shadow cinema in the second half of January where the following films will be shown.
Saturday 14th January, 19:30
Kiyohiko Ushihara (1897-1985), one of Japan’s leading directors of the silent period, is relatively unknown in the west but The Ghost Cat and the Mysterious Shamisen gets a rare screening. This is, an early chiller especially subtitled for Zipangu Fest, and a rare chance to experience one of Japan’s few surviving prewar horrors, a genre that was soon to be suppressed by the increasing state censorship of the wartime years. A quintessential example of the period “ghost cat” (bakeneko or kaibyo) movie, the movie follows Mitsue, the possessive onna-kabuki actress betrothed to apprentice shamisen player Seijiro. When one day Okiyo, a beautiful young girl of samurai class, is led to Seijiro’s house by his lost cat Kuro, she becomes besotted with him. Dark jealous passions are invoked in Mitsue, which are intensified when Seijiro gifts Okiyo his precious shamisen. The cat is the first to suffer at the end of Mitsue’s hairpin, but returns from the grave to assist Okiyo’s younger sister Onui avenge her sister’s murder.