This year marks the centenary of the founding of Nikkatsu Studio and because of this a lot of their old titles are getting restored and re-released. The BFI are joining in with the celebrations by screening a selection of works that came out of Nikkatsu Studio in the 50’s and 60’s with titles from important Japanese directors like Yuzo Kawashima, Shohei Imamura and Seijun Suzuki. The season runs from June 01st to June 30th at the BFI Southbank.
What this season looks good at doing is revealing the grittier edge of post-war Japanese cinema, the changes in sexual politics and just what the taiyozoku (sun tribe) strand of films was like with their focus on nihilistic affluent youth. A lot of the stories are adapted from the books of Shintaro Ishihara, the man who would later become Governor of Tokyo. As far as the actors go well there are some familiar names like Meiko Kaji (Lady Snowblood) and Jo Shishido (A Colt is My Passport) but most are unknown to me.
Here is the selection and the dates and info taken from the site (only a few comments from me edited in). Click on the titles for more information and to order tickets:
Seasons in the Sun: The Heyday of Nikkatsu Studios
Season Introduction: Seasons in the Sun: The Heyday of Nikkatsu Studios
June 03rd, 6:15 PM
Film critic Jaspar Sharp (author of Behind the Pink Curtain and The Historical Dictionary of Japanese Cinema) is the season curator for the season and he will provide a talk on the films guiding the audience through some of the films that best exemplify the studios output throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Suzuki Paradise: Red Signal
June 01st, 6:20 PM, June 07th, 8:50 PM
Director: Yuzo Kawashima, Starring: Michiyo Aratama, Tatsuya Mihashi, Yukiko Todoroki
Running Time: 81 mins
Director Yuzo Kawashima’s reputation is in the middle of a revival at the moment, starting with a retrospective of his films at last year’s Berlin International Film Festival and continuing with reissues of his titles like Bakumatsu Taiyo-den (courtesy of Masters of Cinema). This was one of the films screened at Berlin.
A newlywed couple drawn to the bright lights of Tokyo find their relationship in jeopardy when the pretty young wife Tsutae sees an easy escape route from poverty in the neighbouring red-light district.
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