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	Image: Still from Under current

Japanese Film Festival classics program

Great Japanese directors and actresses of the 20th century

Curated by Masafumi Konomi, director of the Japanese Film Festival, these films pool the talents of critically acclaimed directors and leading actresses of the 1950s and 1960s, resulting in some of the greatest moments in classic Japanese cinema.

The Japanese Film Festival is the largest Japanese film festival outside of Japan. This free classics program at the Gallery is a satellite event of the 2014 festival. The festival’s main program is a ticketed event, which screens at Event Cinemas, George Street, Sydney in November and offers the best in contemporary Japanese film across the genres, including fresh releases still showing in Japan.

Presented by the Japan Foundation, Sydney.

Image: Still from Under current

Wednesdays 2pm & 7.15pm, Saturdays, Sundays 2pm
15 – 26 October 2014


Films start at the advertised time. Doors open 30 minutes before. Tickets are issued at the Domain Theatre one hour before. Latecomers not admitted.

Unlike the usual Gallery film series, films in this program screen only once at the date and time indicated. There are no repeat screenings.

Japanese Film Festival website

Location: Domain Theatre

Japanese Film Festival The Japan Foundation

Under current (also known as Night river)

Dir: Kozaburo Yoshimura 1956 (Japan)
104 mins 35mm Colour
Japanese with English subtitles
© 1956 Kadokawa Pictures
Kiwa is the eldest daughter of a traditional textile-dyeing family, who proudly strive to keep their art alive even as other dyers are abandoning their trade. Ambitious, talented and beautiful, she is the backbone of the family business. When she develops an attraction to a genetics professor who keeps fruit flies for his experiments, events conspire to bring them together — but all is not as it seems at first. Set in 1950s Kyoto, this early colour film by acclaimed director Kozaburo Yoshimura catapulted leading actress Fujiko Yamamoto to stardom in Japan.


Wednesday 15 October 2014 2pm – 3:44pm

Red Peony gambles her life

Dir: Tai Kato 1969 (Japan)
98 mins 35mm Colour
Japanese with English subtitles
© Toei Co, Ltd
Ryu is a beautiful itinerant female gambler whose identity is marked by her trademark tattoo: a red peony. Accused of a gambling swindle she did not commit, Ryu finds herself drawn into a tangled web of power play which threatens to divide two young, star-crossed lovers from rival yakuza gangs. Starring Ken Takakura (Japan’s answer to Clint Eastwood) and the silver screen’s favourite yakuza heroine of the day, the ever-cool Junko Fuji.


Wednesday 15 October 2014 7:15pm – 8:53pm

Woman in the dunes

Dir: Hiroshi Teshigahara 1964 (Japan)
142 mins 35mm B&W Rated M
Japanese with English subtitles
©1964 Teshigahara Production
When an entomologist is stranded in a remote village after missing his bus, he accepts the kind offer from a local for an overnight stay. He is lowered into a large sandpit accessible only by a rope ladder that descends to a rundown hut where a woman resides. He soon finds out that he is trapped along with the woman, who works hard constantly shovelling sand off her house not by choice, but by means to survive. Based on Kobo Abe’s novel of the same name, this harrowing allegorical parable about life is a hypnotic tale perfectly shot with striking visuals. Teshigahara was 37 when he directed this film, which won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes, and two Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Foreign Film.


Saturday 18 October 2014 2pm – 4:22pm

Floating clouds

Dir: Mikio Naruse 1955 (Japan)
124 mins 35mm B&W Rated PG
Japanese with English subtitles
©1955 Toho Co, Ltd
A dark comedic look at a tempestuous love affair between needy and obsessive secretary Yukiko (played brilliantly by Hideko Takamine) and her married boss, the stoic Tomioka. Set in postwar Japan, the film charts the challenges that the couple face as they attempt to share a life together. Floating clouds won Best Film, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director at Japan’s prestigious Kinema Junpo awards, and is lauded as one of director Mikio Naruse’s masterpieces.


Sunday 19 October 2014 2pm – 4:04pm

Daughters, wives and a mother

Dir: Mikio Naruse 1960 (Japan)
121 mins 35mm Colour
Japanese with English subtitles
©1960 Toho Co, Ltd
Eldest daughter Sanae has returned to her family home and now lives off the insurance money she inherited after her husband’s death. Surrounded by an ageing mother and siblings who keep falling into financial misfortunes, Sanae is the only one who can keep the family from falling apart. But this comes at a cost for Sanae, who would be forced to sacrifice many things — including love. Acclaimed director Mikio Naruse delves deep into family relationships, examining social issues that still exist within Japan today.


Wednesday 22 October 2014 2pm – 4:01pm

Street of shame

Dir: Kenji Mizoguchi 1956 (Japan)
94 mins 35mm B&W Rated M
Japanese with English subtitles
©1956 Kadokawa Pictures
In post-war Japan, the government has waged a campaign to ban prostitution. But due to the uncertainty and devastation of the new economic arena, the women have been left behind to their own demise, turning to the streets for financial survival. In an establishment called Dreamland situated in Tokyo’s red-light district, the desolate lives and faded dreams of five women intersect. But as the momentum of the anti-prostitution bill starts to progress, the women find their allegiances tested by economic necessity and personal conscience. This was Kenji Mizoguchi’s final film before passing away later that year, aged 58 – the same year that prostitution was outlawed in Japan. Starring Machiko Kyo, Aiko Mimasu and Ayako Wakao, it was awarded with a special mention for its poignancy at the 17th Venice Film Festival.


Wednesday 22 October 2014 7:15pm – 8:49pm

Wild geese

Dir: Shiro Toyoda 1953 (Japan)
102 mins 35mm B&W
Japanese with English subtitles
©1953 Kadokawa Pictures
Otama, the daughter of a poor candy seller, becomes the mistress of a wealthy widower to help support her father. But when she meets Okada, a medical student she is instantly attracted to, she begins to question herself. Should she follow her heart and pursue love, or stay out of duty to support her family?


Saturday 25 October 2014 2pm – 3:42pm

Ten black women (also known as Ten dark women)

Dir: Kon Ichikawa 1961 (Japan)
103 mins 35mm B&W
Japanese with English subtitles
©1961 Kadokawa Pictures
A black comedy murder thriller that offers a critique of male chauvinism in Japan. Kaze is a womanising TV producer who is married but also has nine mistresses. All are fed up with his arrogance and selfishness, and collectively devise a plot to kill him. Each woman would be happy for him to remain alive, but only if she was the sole woman in his life.


Sunday 26 October 2014 2pm – 3:43pm