Yasujiro Ozu’s “An Autumn Afternoon” Screened at the Barbican on May 21st

The Barbican are running an exhibition about Japanese homes and domestic architecture called The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945. It began on March 23rd and lasts until June 25th. As part of the exhibition there will be films screened. The next film in this exhibition is Yasujiro Ozu’s, An Autumn Afternoon on May 21st at 16:00 :

Here are the details:

An Autumn Afternoon                       An Autumn Afternoon Film Poster       

秋刀魚の味  「Sanma no Aji

Release Date: November 18th, 1962

Running Time: 113 mins.

Director: Yasujiro Ozu

Writer: Kogo Noda (Screenplay)

Starring: Chishu Ryu, Shima Iwashita, Mariko Okada, Shinichiro Mikami, Teruo Yoshida, Noriko Maki, Nobuo Nakamura, Kuniko Miyake, Eijiro Tono, Haruko Sugimura,


Yasujiro Ozu is a titan of Japanese cinema transcending the Golden Age and becoming a name known amongst many generations. He made a career spanning from crime films at the start to a stint in the military before finally chronicling middle-class Japanese  life in the post-war period. He worked with many directors such as Shohei Imamura and Yoji Yamada and consequently, the younger generations either aspired to be him or question him. This is his last film and one of only four he made in colour. It is another family drama exploring the changes in Japan, the journey to wealth the nation was making, ageing parents and loyal children and, ultimately, an examination of family ties.

Nothing says autumn in Japan like the taste of sanma but in this film, one man in the autumn of his life must help his daughter break away from their family home and find happiness.

Synopsis: Shuhei Hirayama (Ryu) is a widower who, despite some reluctance, wants his loyal daughter Michiko (Iwashita) to get married because he realises that she would be miserable if she spent her life as a single woman looking after him. He comes to this decision after attending a school reunion and meeting his former secondary school teacher who also has a daughter in a similar position. The man is a drunk and the woman is at risk of turning in an embittered spinster. Can Shuhei release his daughter to the world and will she be able to find someone or something to give her life more meaning?

Korean Comedy “Queen of Walking” Gets its UK Premiere at London’s Regent Street Cinema on May 22nd and Cambridge Picturehouse Screening on May 29th

The London Korean Film Festival is hosting another of its teaser screenings in the form of Queen of Walking, a hit comedy starring Shim Eun-kyung an actor most famous for her role in the 2014 box-office smash Miss Granny. The Regent Street Cinema is playing host to the UK premiere of the film on May 22nd while the Cambridge Picturehouse will screen it on May 29th.

Here are the details:

Queen of Walking Film image 2

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“Woman in the Dunes” Screened at the Barbican on May 14th

The Barbican are running an exhibition about Japanese homes and domestic architecture called The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945. It began on March 23rd and lasts until June 25th. As part of the exhibition there will be films screened. The first film in this exhibition is:

Woman in the Dunes   Woman in the Dunes Film Poster

砂の女Suna no Onna

Release Date: February 15th, 1964

Running Time: 124 mins.

Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara

Writer: Eiko Yoshida, Kobo Abe (Screenplay), Kobo Abe (Original Novel),

Starring: Eiji Okada, Kyoko Kishida, Hiroko Ito, Koji Mitsui, Sen Yano, Ginzo Sekiguchi,


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Japanese Films at the 2017 Annecy International Film Festival

The Annecy International Animated Film Festival has been running since it was established in 1960. It is the world’s oldest and largest animation film festival and it has become one of the best places to glimpse early footage of upcoming anime. This year, it runs from the June 12th to the 17th and the programme line-up has already been announced and there are many Japanese titles both in and out of competition.

Here’s what’s on offer:

In This Corner of the World Film Image

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“Tampopo” Screening at London’s Picturehouse Cinema on May 17th

Movie fans in London will have the chance to see the film on the big screen at Picturehouse Central for one night. The screening takes place on 17th May at 18.30pm and tickets are already on sale over at the Picturehouse website.

Tampopo Film Image

There are a small group of films which have almost universal praise and go down in cinema history as they transcend borders, languages, and cultures. Tampopo is one of them. It was written and directed by Juzo Itami just as he was entering the height of his creative powers. After an early career as an actor, he shifted to roles behind the camera and made a series of fondly remembered and critically acclaimed films starting with Tampopo and including A Taxing Woman.

Tampopo is all about the glories of food, the sexiness and spirituality that goes into making something as simple as ramen and while that may sound like one for foodies, it transcends that particular category to become a hilarious comedy thanks to its funny character-filled script which parodies and creates new tropes and genres. Everywhere I have been in Japan, the moment I mention Tampopo, people’s faces light up. “Ah! You know that one!” It seems to be universally loved.

I am guilty of throwing the word classic around with abandon but if you want to be convinced about this particular film’s greatness then here’s a paragraph from an excellent review from the excellent writings of Roger Ebert:

“Tampopo” is one of those utterly original movies that seems to exist in no known category. Like the French comedies of Jacques Tati, it’s a bemused meditation on human nature in which one humorous situation flows into another offhandedly, as if life were a series of smiles.

The 4K restoration of Juzo Itami’s classic ramen western Tampopo was released on blu-ray in the UK on May 01st of this year thanks to The Criterion Collection. Here’s the trailer:

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The Korean Cultural Centre Will Screen the film “Scenery” on May 11th

Scenery (2013) is a documentary film by Chinese-Korean director Zhang Lu. He has many features to his name and has toured the international film festival circuit including Europe. One of the director’s other films, A Quiet Dream (2016) was recently reviewed over on Windows on Worlds.

Here’s information on the latest film as pulled from the website:

Scenery Film Image

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The Korean Cultural Centre Will Screen the film “Bandhobi” on May 04th

Bandhobi is a film by Dong-il Shin, a Korean filmmaker who I had the chance to meet and talk to at the Osaka Asian Film Festival when he brought over his latest title, Come, Together (2017). His films cover a variety of social issues and Bandhobi looks at issues of racism, illegal immigration and the stresses faced by young people in education and work and those from broken homes and he does this through two sensitively drawn characters.

Here’s information on the latest film as pulled from the website:

Bandhobi Film Image 2

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The Japanese Embassy in London Will Screen “Night Train to the Stars” on May 18th

The Japanese embassy in London regularly screens films that are hard to find in the West and they are an eclectic bunch. This one features the story of the Japanese literary giant Kenji Miyazawa and has animation. It’s from the 1990s but despite its vintage there were no trailers.

Here’s the information on the embassy’s film website:

Night Train to the Stars    Night Train to the Stars Film Poster

わが心の銀河鉄道 宮沢賢治物語 Waga kokoro no ginga tetsudou miyazawa kenji monogatari

Running Time: 111 mins.

Release Date: October 19th , 1996

Director: Kazuki Omori

Writer: Machiko Nasu (Screenplay), Kenji Miyazawa (Life Story),

Starring: Naoto Ogata, Tetsuya Watari, Maki Mizuno, Yoshihiko Hakamada, Ryuji Harada, Yuriko Hoshi, Sayaka Osawa, Yuki Saito, Kippei Shina,


Synopsis from the embassy’s site: A biographical film of Kenji Miyazawa, Japan’s most popular fantasy novelist.

Night Train to the Stars Film Image

Kenji is an idealist from an early age, forming a utopian vision with his friend Kanai Hosaka that inspires them to work for the happiness of farmers, although his pawnbroker father, Masajiro, objects to such idealism. Kanai is expelled from school for outlining his revolutionary plans in an essay. Meanwhile, Kenji develops a devotion to the Nichiren sect of Buddhism and goes to Tokyo. While proselytising on a voluntary basis, he continues writing his fantasy stories at night. Kenji urges Kanai to join his group but Kanai refuses, saying that it will not benefit the farmers, and makes a decisive break from Kenji. On top of this, the death of his biggest supporter, his beloved sister Toshi, hits Kenji hard. Subsequently he regains contact with Kanai, who is now farming in Yamanashi prefecture and has gone a long way toward realising their original vision. Encouraged by what Kanai has achieved, he returns to Iwate prefecture to start his own experimental school in the family summer house. A tragic rainstorm hits the northern area of Japan and ruins most of the crops as well as many of those at Kenji’s school. His efforts to develop new farming methods and help poor farmers only serve to undermine his health, forcing him to close the school. Kenji dies at the age of just 37. It is only after his death, through the help of his family, that his writings become widely read. The film was made in 1996 to commemorate the centennial of his birth.

The event takes place on May 18th at 18:30pm. The location is the Embassy of Japan in the UK, 101 – 104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT and you can find out how to book tickets with this link.



Japanese Films at the Cannes Film Festival 2017

Cannes Film Festival 2017 Poster

This year’s Cannes Film Festival (17th – 28th May) is the 70th edition of the event and the festival head Thierry Fremaux announced the Official Selection of films programmed last week. Critics are salivating over the fact that there are two Netflix films: the monster movie Okja by Bong Joon-ho (The Host) and The Meyerowitz Stories by Noah Baumbach (writer on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and director of Mistress America). There will be two TV series for audiences to watch: David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and Jane Campion’s Top Of The Lake and lots more familiar faces such as Sofia (Somewhere) Coppola’s The Beguiled, Michael (Code Unknown/Cache) Haneke’s Happy End (knowing Haneke, it’s probably an ironic title…). More importantly, there are also nine first-time filmmakers getting their works screened.

Why is that important?

The Cannes Film Festival comes into 2017 with a need to find fresh blood and this is seemingly strong selection because may be it. Since this is the 70th anniversary of the festival and the fact that, last year, organisers faced fierce criticism last year for their lack of female directors, commentators identified that they needed to do a couple of things: broaden out its programme so that there are filmmakers other than the old guard (Campion, Haneke, Kawase, Haynes, the Dardennes brothers etc.) and increase the number of female-centric stories and female-led films across the programme. The old guard are back but just by glancing at the lists of announced films, it is clear that the festival has achieved some of its goals and will probably avoid the criticism it faced last year – hopefully, no high-heels and breast-feeding baby incidents will crop up). Things are a bit of a mixed picture when it comes to the Japanese films.

So far, there are four Japanese films programmed, and three come from festival regulars: Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Naomi Kawase, and Takashi Miike. Two of the four are adaptations while the other two are original dramas. Out of the dramas, one is made by a seasoned professional while the shorter one at 45 minutes is from a student. The presence of a fresh director is always something to cheer when it comes to Japanese films at international festivals and this director is a lady to boot: Aya Igashi. She is a graduate from Toei Gakuen Film College’s movie production department and is already working on her third film.

So, while we can all sigh and shrug our shoulders at the lack of original content, we can take comfort in the fact that Aya Igashi is on the radar of people who programme the festival.

What are the films playing this year?

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Economic Migrant Documentary “Burmese on the Roof” at the Korean Cultural Centre in London on April 27th

The documentary Burmese on the Roof will be screened at the Korean Cultural Centre in London on Thursday, April 27th at 19:00. This is the UK premiere of a film that has played at the Busan International Film Festival. It is one of six films selected by students attending the National Film and Television School. Each film was made in a different genre but all touch on the economic draw of Korea and it looks to be an interesting programme that will introduce audiences into the lives of a diverse array of characters. Burmese on the Roof is the first in this series of films.

Here are the details on the film:

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