Monday, September 16, 2013

Rare Japanese film classics coming to Cleveland

[Press release from the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

“Rarely Seen Gems of Japanese Cinema,” a festival of four important  Japanese film classics that are little known in the U.S., will be presented between September 28 and October 12 at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, 11141 East Boulevard in University Circle. The series, a co-presentation of Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, is sponsored by The Japan Foundation (New York) and CWRU’s Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities and the Dean’s Office in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“This is a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Linda Ehrlich, associate professor of Japanese, world literature and cinema in CWRU’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and the series’ co-curator.  Co-curator and Cinematheque Director John Ewing, adds, “This series, with the generous support of The Japan Foundation, allows me to bring four great movies to Cleveland that I have long wanted to show here.”

The four films, which will run on three Saturdays and one Thursday, date from the 1930s to the 1950s. They will expose Cleveland audiences to Japanese history and culture in stories from the Edo/Tokugawa period (1603-1868) through the post-WWII years. The movies were directed by four of Japan’s most celebrated filmmakers—Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, Sadao Yamanaka, and Heinosuke Gosho—and feature such great Japanese actors as Kinuyo Tanaka and Isuzu Yamada.
Ehrlich and Ewing coordinated the screenings to coincide with and celebrate the reopening of the Japanese and Korean Art Galleries at the Cleveland Museum of Art. All four movies will be shown in 35mm or 16mm film prints with English subtitles; three of the copies are being imported from Japan solely for the series. In addition, an expert in Japanese literature, history, and cinema studies will introduce each film and also lead a post-film discussion with the audience.
All films will show in the Institute’s Russell B. Aitken Auditorium. Admission to each program is $9; Cinematheque members and CIA /CWRU I.D. holders $7; age 25 & under $6. All tickets will be sold at the door, cash/check only. Free parking for filmgoers is available in the adjacent CIA lot, located off of East Boulevard. For further information, call John Ewing or Tim Harry at (216) 421-7450, send an email to, or visit
Rarely Seen Gems of Japanese Cinema
Saturday, September 28, at 5:00 pm
Japan, 1951, Kenji Mizoguchi
A young Japanese man falls in love with his fiancée’s widowed sister (Kinuyo Tanaka) in this exquisite romantic drama by the great Kenji Mizoguchi. Never before shown at the Cinematheque, this little known classic from Mizoguchi’s greatest decade (his next five films included The Life of Oharu, Ugetsu, and Sansho the Bailiff) demonstrates his stunning pictorial sense and his sympathy for women. Linda Ehrlich, associate professor of Japanese and cinema at CWRU, will introduce the film and lead a post-film discussion. Subtitles. 35mm. 95 min.
Thursday, October 3, at 6:30 pm
Japan, 1947, Yasujiro Ozu
Never before shown at the Cinematheque, this postwar comedy-drama by the great Yasujiro Ozu tells of a widow who takes in a young boy found on the streets. Ozu regular Chishu Ryu sings in this one! Garrett L. Morgan, visiting assistant professor of history at Oberlin College, will introduce the film and lead a post-film discussion. Subtitles. 35mm. 72 min.
Saturday, October 5, at 5:00 pm
Japan, 1937, Sadao Yamanaka
This period drama is the greatest work by a promising young Japanese filmmaker of the 1930s who died in Manchuria (at age 29) 13 months after his masterpiece was released. Set in 18th-century Edo (Tokyo), the film is a compassionate portrait of an unemployed samurai, his wife, and their impoverished neighbors—all leading hardscrabble lives in a shabby slum plagued by crime, where notions of heroism and honor have lost their meaning. Kimberly Kono, assistant professor of Japanese at Smith College and visiting associate professor at CWRU, will introduce the film and lead a post-film discussion. Subtitles. 35mm. 86 min.
Saturday, October 12, at 5:00 pm
Japan, 1955, Heinosuke Gosho
The late, great Isuzu Yamada (Lady Macbeth in Throne of Blood) stars in this beautifully photographed major work by Japan's prolific but criminally undershown movie master Heinosuke Gosho. It follows a young girl doomed to a life of prostitution as she slowly comprehends her unfortunate fate. Ann Sherif of Oberlin College will introduce the film and lead a post-film discussion. Subtitles. 16mm. 95 min.

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