Japanese Divas

6/17/11 to 8/20/11

The golden age of Japanese cinema shines at BAM/PFA this summer as we spotlight great screen performances by Setsuko Hara, Machiko Kyo, Hideko Takamine, Kinuyo Tanaka, Ayako Wakao, and Isuzu Yamada. Join us for an impressive range of films, including a series of delicate family dramas by Yasujiro Ozu, an existential thriller from Hiroshi Teshigahara, a historical drama from Kenji Mizoguchi, and a comedy from Keisuke Kinoshita, among many others.

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Past Films

  • Late Autumn

    • Saturday, August 20 6:30 PM

    Yasujiro Ozu (Japan, 1960). Coming full circle from Late Spring, Setsuko Hara plays a widowed mother pushing her unwilling daughter to marry. "Exquisite and not to be missed" (New Republic). (127 mins)

  • Seisaku's Wife

    • Saturday, August 13 6:30 PM

    Yasuzo Masumura (Japan, 1965). An engrossing tale of rebel lovers linking sensuality, war, and l'amour fou, starring Ayako Wakao as an outcast woman with an all-consuming love. “Perhaps Masumura's masterpiece, and certainly one of the great Japanese films of the sixties” (TIFF Cinematheque). (93 mins)

  • A Wife Confesses

    • Thursday, August 11 7:00 PM

    Yasuzo Masumura (Japan, 1961). Cult director Masumura combines film noir and steamy sexuality in this tale of a young widow (Ayako Wakao) standing trial for the murder of her husband. “One of Japanese cinema's most striking portraits of a modern woman” (TIFF Cinematheque). (91 mins)

  • Equinox Flower

    • Saturday, August 6 6:30 PM

    Yasujiro Ozu (Japan, 1958). Modern girl Kinuyo Tanaka quietly rebels against her traditional parents' plans in Ozu's first color film. "Gentle and amused in the way that it acknowledges time's passage, the changing of values, and the adjustments that have to be made between generations" (N.Y. Times). (118 mins)

  • Throne of Blood

    • Saturday, July 30 6:30 PM

    Akira Kurosawa (Japan, 1957). Kurosawa's Noh-influenced version of Macbeth is “the most brilliant and original attempt ever made to put Shakespeare on screen” (Time). The towering Toshiro Mifune is paired with the legendary Isuzu Yamada in “a partnership of titans” (Film Forum). (107 mins)

  • The Face of Another

    • Saturday, July 30 8:35 PM

    Hiroshi Teshigahara (Japan, 1966). A man (Tatsuya Nakadai) whose face is scarred has a mask made-of a stranger-and attempts to seduce his own wife (Machiko Kyo), in this black-and-white fever dream from Hiroshi Teshigahara, based on the novel by Kobo Abe. “A metaphysical thriller imbued with stylistic touches of surrealism and elegance. A film of the intellect” (S.F. Film Festival). (124 mins)

  • Early Summer

    • Sunday, July 24 5:00 PM

    Yasujiro Ozu (Japan, 1951). "I was interested in getting much deeper than just the story itself; I wanted to depict the cycles of life, the transience of life" (Ozu). An exquisite, faintly melancholic portrait of a family, with the radiant Setsuko Hara as the daughter on whose marriage everything depends. (135 mins)

  • Late Spring

    • Thursday, July 21 7:00 PM

    Yasujiro Ozu (Japan, 1949). Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara as father and daughter in a deceptively simple, eloquent story of filial devotion and parental sacrifice. A near-perfect film, and one of Ozu's own favorites. (107 mins)

  • Immortal Love

    • Friday, July 15 7:00 PM

    Keisuke Kinoshita (Japan, 1961). In the shadow of Mount Aso, a CinemaScope saga of a little community where a forced marriage impacts generations. With Hideko Takamine and Tatsuya Nakadai. (105 mins)

  • Woman of Tokyo and A Hen in the Wind

    • Sunday, July 10 5:00 PM

    Yasuziro Ozu (Japan, 1933). Judith Rosenberg on Piano. Ozu's Depression-era melodrama presages his later style in "a subtle riot of discordant formal devices"(Village Voice). With A Hen in the Wind, Ozu's tragedy of a destitute woman (Kinuyo Tanaka). (131 mins)

  • Carmen Comes Home

    • Saturday, July 9 6:30 PM

    Keisuke Kinoshita (Japan, 1951). Hideko Takamine proves herself a fine comic actress, playing a country girl turned stripper, in this barbed satire on postwar society. Japan's first color film. (86 mins)

  • When a Woman Ascends the Stairs

    • Saturday, July 9 8:20 PM

    Mikio Naruse (Japan, 1960). Hideko Takamine portrays the consummate Naruse heroine: high-minded, determined, and out of her element in a sordid world. "An elegant essay in black-and-white CinemaScope and tinkling cocktail jazz, this tale of a bar hostess's attempt to escape her lot could give heartbreak lessons to Fassbinder and Sirk" (Village Voice). (110 mins)

  • Carmen Comes Home

    • Thursday, July 7 7 PM

    Keisuke Kinoshita (Japan, 1951). Hideko Takamine proves herself a fine comic actress, playing a country girl turned stripper, in this barbed satire on postwar society. Japan's first color film. Repeated on July 9. (86 mins)

  • Twenty-Four Eyes

    • Wednesday, July 6 7:00 PM

    Keisuke Kinoshita (Japan, 1954). Twenty years in the lives of a teacher (Hideko Takamine) and her twelve pupils in a small Inland Sea village affected by militarism, anticommunism, and a war they despise. Voted in 1999 by Japanese critics as one of the top ten Japanese films of all time. (152 mins)

  • Rashomon

    • Saturday, July 2 6:30 PM

    Akira Kurosawa (Japan, 1950). Featuring Machiko Kyo in a performance that made her the most famous Japanese actress in the West, Rashomon is “one of the most brilliantly constructed films of all time, a monument to Kurosawa's greatness, and a landmark in film history” (James Monaco). (88 mins)

  • Sansho the Bailiff

    • Saturday, July 2 8:20 PM

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1954). Bring all your senses and your handkerchief to this haunting tale of a family (led by a haunting Kinuyo Tanaka) victimized by the cruel practices of feudal Japan, “developed with intuition, cunning, and an overarching sense of tragedy” (SF Weekly). (125 mins)

  • The Life of Oharu

    • Thursday, June 30 7:00 PM

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1952). The story of a noblewoman's fall from grace becomes “perhaps the finest film made in any country about the oppression of women” (Joan Mellen) in the hands of director Kenji Mizoguchi and actress Kinuyo Tanaka. “One of the ten greatest films in the history of cinema” (Derek Malcolm). (148 mins)

  • Street of Shame

    • Saturday, June 25 8:45 PM

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1956). Mizoguchi's last film brought together some of Japan's greatest actresses-including Machiko Kyo and Ayako Wakao-to dramatize the struggles and dreams of five prostitutes in Tokyo's red-light district. “The best of all films examining the problems of women in postwar Japan” (Donald Richie). (86 mins)

  • Dragnet Girl

    • Friday, June 24 7:00 PM

    Yasujiro Ozu (Japan, 1933). Judith Rosenberg on Piano. The last of Ozu's 1930s excursions into the world of American-style crime drama, with Kinuyo Tanaka as a gangster's moll. "What this beautifully shot movie proves is that...Ozu could have made superlative genre pictures, noirs included" (Village Voice). (99 mins)

  • Sisters of the Gion

    • Friday, June 24 9:00 PM

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1936). In this famous melodrama, Mizoguchi strips away the romantic veneer of the geisha ideal in this unsentimental portrait of the sex business as a losing proposition for both the tradition-bound geisha and the modern girl alike. “A masterpiece” (Tadao Sato). (68 mins)

  • Tokyo Story

    • Wednesday, June 22 7:00 PM

    Yasujiro Ozu (Japan, 1953). This simple, sad story of the gap between generations in a Japanese family revealed to Western viewers the poetic acuteness of Ozu's style, and features one of Japanese cinema's greatest performances in Setsuko Hara's role as a becalmed, utterly determined young woman. "Wonderful . . . one of the manifest miracles of cinema" (The New Yorker). (140 mins)

  • Ugetsu

    • Friday, June 17 7:00 PM

    Kenji Mizoguchi (Japan, 1953). In sixteenth-century Japan, a simple potter is drawn into the realm of a phantom enchantress, played with devilish élan by Machiko Kyo. Director Mizoguchi builds an eerie netherworld entirely out of shadows and lighting, decor and texture, and the graceful chicanery of human desire. (96 mins)

  • Odd Obsession

    • Friday, June 17 9:00 PM

    Kon Ichikawa (Japan, 1959). An elderly man tries to keep his sexual energy alive by arranging liaisons between his still-beautiful wife (Machiko Kyo) and his daughter's fiancé. Perversity and black comedy combine in Ichikawa's adaptation of a Tanizaki novel. (107 mins)