BFI Japan comes to big screens UK-wide this Autumn

Japan 2021

Here’s some good news from the BFI about its rescheduled season of Japanese movies, which you can watch in cinemas or at home on the BFI Player. There are events all over the UK as well – I’m hoping I’ll be able to see or attend at least some of them.

There’s a trailer, too!

The BFI today announces highlights of the UK-wide programme for BFI JAPAN 2021: 100 YEARS OF JAPANESE CINEMA, coming to cinemas from October – December 2021. Highlights of the celebration will include a BFI re-release of Akira Kurosawa’s SEVEN SAMURAI (1954), a BFI JAPAN TOUR, featuring classics from Yasujirō Ozuand Akira Kurosawa, alongside cult titles from Kon Ichikawa and Toshio Matsumoto, which will feature many new 4K restorations and visit cinemas across the UK. For audiences who cannot attend a screening in their local cinema, there is a vast BFI JAPAN programme online on BFI Player Subscription. The BFI is also working closely with the National Lottery funded BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) to enable cinemas across the UK to host special screenings and events as part of BFI JAPAN

Seasons and events will include Day For Night’s Urban, Natural, Human – exploring Japan on screen programme, showing at HOME, Manchester, Close-Up Cinema in London and more and a tour of highlights from Queer East Film Festival at Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham, Showroom Cinema in Sheffield, HOME, Manchester and Edinburgh Filmhouse. Belfast Film Festival (4 – 13 November) will present a selection of surrealist Japanese films and Cambridge Film Festival will present a curated strand of films for its 40th edition (18 – 25 November). In Scotland, Screen Argyll is bringing Japan: Family, Community and the Sea to the islands in the Hebrides. Over the Halloween weekend (30 – 31 October), Chapter in Cardiff will celebrate the films of Nobuhiko Ōbayashi including his cult comedy horror HAUSU (1977).

Originally scheduled to run in venues across the UK from May – September 2020, the season was moved online due to the pandemic. An unprecedented number of Japanese films were programmed on BFI Player while cinemas across the country remained closed, resulting in films in the BFI JAPAN collection being streamed on BFI Player in excess of 400,000 times since then. After the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo come to a close this summer, the BFI picks up the torch to shine a light on 100 years of Japanese cinema this autumn. 

BFI JAPAN will spotlight one of the world’s greatest cinematic traditions, one that has long inspired admiration and fascination among audiences and creatives the world over. Classic films by Akira KurosawaYasujirō Ozuand Kenji Mizoguchi regularly rank at the very top of critics’ all-time lists; Studio Ghibli leads the animated world in visionary imagination; while waves of innovators from the cinematic rebels of the 60s to today’s audio-visual live artists and video game auteurs take the moving image to thrilling new places. The influence of Japanese cinema cannot be overstated – Kurosawa in particular influenced Sergio Leone’s A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS – an often shot-for-shot remake of YOJIMBO (1961) – and John Sturges’ THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, adapted from SEVEN SAMURAI (1954); George Lucas has long acknowledged Kurosawa’s influence on STAR WARS, from the narrative and thematic elements to costumes and names. More recently, George Miller’s MAD MAX: FURY ROAD and video game GHOST OF TSUSHIMA, in which players can adopt ‘Kurosawa mode’, have paid loving homage to the master filmmaker.

PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHTS BY REGION:

UK-WIDE

A BFI UK-wide re-release of Akira Kurosawa’s seminal masterpiece SEVEN SAMURAI (1954), back in cinemas UK-wide from 29 October. Genuinely epic in scale and tone, Kurosawa’s hugely influential samurai movie is a towering achievement which has to be experienced on the big screen. Confirmed venues so far include HOME, Manchester, IFI Dublin and Bristol Watershed.

The BFI has also curated a BFI JAPAN TOUR, featuring classics from Yasujirō Ozu and Akira Kurosawa, alongside titles like Kon Ichikawa’s breathtakingly stylised AN ACTOR’S REVENGE (1963) and Toshio Matsumoto’skaleidoscopic masterpiece FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES (1969). The tour will visit cinemas across the UK and will feature many new 4K restorations. Picturehouse cinemas across the UK (with venues in Edinburgh, Cambridge, Southampton, Exeter, York, Liverpool and many more) will present select titles from the tour in their ongoing reDiscover series, with key titles from Akira Kurosawa and Yasujirō Ozu screening at cinemas weekly from 17 October – 2 December

Day for Night is a UK-based independent film organisation working across the film exhibition, specialist distribution, access and screen translation sectors. Urban, Natural, Human – exploring Japan on screen is their curatorial project exploring representation of the built and natural environments framed within Japan’s historical, current and future contexts. The project, incorporating archive material, documentaries, artists’ moving image and contemporary films, will consist of seven in venue film screenings, including HOME in Manchester on 4 and 5 December, and Close-Up Cinema in London, 12 – 14 November. A programme of 10 features and 20 short films will also be made available online. Titles include BOOK, PAPER, SCISSORS (2019) by Nanako HiroseASCENT (2016) by Fiona TanMEMENTO STELLA (2018) by Takashi MakinoTENZO (2019) by Katsuya TomitaTHE INLAND SEA (1991) by Lucille Carra3.11 A SENSE OF HOME (2011) (various directors) and shorts by Kaori Oda. More titles are to be announced.

Following its second edition, which took place 15 – 26 September across eight venues in London, and showcased 37 films from 15 countries across East and Southeast Asia, Queer East Film Festival will be touring four highlights from its Focus Japan programme across four venues:

DAUGHTERS (2020) by Hajime Tsuda will be showing at the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) in Birmingham on 28 October and at HOME, Manchester on 1 November. MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR LAWRENCE (1983) by NagisaŌshima will be showing at the MAC on 30 October. GOHATTO (1999) by Nagisa Ōshima will be showing on 35mm at the Edinburgh Filmhouse on 21 November. And for the 20th anniversary of its release, HUSH! (2001) by Ryosuke Hashiguchi, will be showing on 35mm at the Showroom Cinema, Sheffield on 3 December.

MIDLANDS

Phizzical Productions, a company specialising in film curation, exhibition and production, led by artistic director Samir Bhamra (UK Asian Film Festival) will be presenting a unique season exploring the connections and influences between Indian and Japanese cinema. The season will take place in November and December at Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. LOVE IN TOKYO (1966) by Pramod ChakravortyKONTORA (2019) by Anshul Chauhan and 8 THOTTAKAL (2017) by Sri Ganesh, will be among the films presented, alongside Akira Kurosawa’s SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) and STRAY DOG (1949).

NORTH

At the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival (12 – 17 October), A PAGE OF MADNESS (Teinosuke Kinugasa, 1926) will be presented at Abbeydale Picture House in Sheffield (17 October) with a live score by Sheffield duo In The Nursery. DRAGNET GIRL (Yasujirō Ozu, 1933) will be presented at The Leeds Library in Leeds (30 October) with an improvised live musical accompaniment by Irine Røsnes (violin) and Jonny Best (piano). 

From 19 – 21 November, the Showroom Cinema (Sheffield) will run its first Anime festival – Sheffield Loves Anime, celebrating the genre in all its breadth, from cult classics to contemporary works, and with a unique focus on women writers. The programme, co-curated with Anime LTD and the Scotland Loves Anime film festival, will see A SILENT VOICE (2016) by Naoko YamadaLOOKING FOR MAGICAL DOREMI (2020) by Yu Kamatani and Jun’ichi Satō and CYBER CITY OEDO 808 (1990) by Yoshiaki Kawajiri screened alongside introductions, Q&As and other activities including a Japanese board game afternoon by Treehouse Board Game Café.

NORTHERN IRELAND 

As part of its 21st edition, Belfast Film Festival at the Beanbag Cinema (4 – 13 November) will present a selection of surrealist Japanese films including: WIFE! BE LIKE A ROSE! (Mikio Naruse, 1935) THE MANWITHOUT A MAP (1968) by Hiroshi Teshigahara and EXTREME PRIVATE EROS LOVE SONG 1974 (1974) directed by Kazuo Hara and produced by Sachiko Kobayashi. The project is developed and curated in collaboration with three young programmers: Ruairi McCann, James Hall and Meicheng Zhou who are taking part in the Belfast Film Festival intern programmers initiative.

SCOTLAND

Screen Argyll is bringing Japan: Family, Community and the Sea to the islands in the Hebrides. STILL THE WATER (Naomi Kawase, 2014), GIOVANNI’S ISLAND (Mizuho Nishikubo, 2014) and PONYO (Hayao Miyazaki, 2008) will be among the titles presented. Lecturer and writer Roy Stafford will produce film notes and an illustrated talk on Japanese island communities and their representation on screen, as well as facilitate post screening discussions. Whalley Range All Stars’s show, GODZILLA v the FATBERG, a 20-minute action-packed story told in the kamishibai style, will be recorded and presented to audiences, and followed by a kamishibai workshop. The screenings and events will take place mid-November to December.

SOUTH EAST AND LONDON

The 40th Cambridge Film Festival (18 – 25 November) will present a curated strand of five Japanese films at the Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge:

POUPELLE OF CHIMNEY TOWN (2020) by Yusuke Hirota (UK Premiere)

DRIVE MY CAR (2021) by Ryusuke Hamaguchi

WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY (2021) by Ryusuke Hamaguchi

JUST THE TWO OF US (2020) by Keita Fujimoto

SALARY MAN (2021) by Allegra Pacheco (UK Premiere)

WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY, JUST THE TWO OF US and SALARY MAN will also be available online UK-wide (21 November – 5 December) as part of the festival’s online programme.

Reading Biscuit Factory is a brand new, three-screen independent cinema located in the town centre. For BFI JAPAN, the venue is celebrating the breadth and variety of Japanese filmmaking, from Kurosawa to Koreeda, from J-Horror to eroticismand from samurai to cyberpunk, tracing the evolution of Japanese cinema over the past 75 years. Featuring newly-remastered classics such as SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) and GHOST IN THE SHELL(1995) by Mamoru Oshii and the very latest releases including DRIVE MY CAR (2021) by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, it will also include special events in partnership with academic staff from the University of Reading, director Q&As, and presentations of FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES (1969) by Toshio Matsumoto and the documentary QUEER JAPAN (2019) by Graham Kolbeins as part of a special LGBTQIA+ strand in association with Queer East Film Festival. The programme will run from the end of October and throughout November and will also feature displays and demonstrations of Japanese arts and crafts. 

As previously announced, there will be a major two-part season at BFI Southbank from 18 October – 30 December, featuring screenings, contextual introductions and events. Part one of the season (18 October – 30 November) surveys the great Japanese studio era from the 1930s to the early 1960s and part two (1 – 30 December) features 20th century Japanese films made after 1964, including the New Wave and genre classics of the 1990s. Full details can be found in the BFI JAPAN press release: 

SOUTH WEST 

In celebration of the BFI’s Japan season, expanded cinema practitioners Compass Presents are programming a day-long celebration of Japanese cinema and celebration on Saturday 9 October with events taking place in Millennium Square and a special ticketed screening and food pairing taking place at Watershed in Bristol. The day-long celebration will feature live cooking demonstrations, Taiko Drumming, cultural workshops and games, as well as full length feature screenings of acclaimed Japanese films including OUR LITTLE SISTER (2016) by Hirokazu Koreeda and YOUR NAME (2016) by Makoto Shinkai.

Ahead of a restored screening of SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) at Bristol Watershed, The Bristol Bad Film Club, renamed The Bristol Bushido Film Club for the occasion, will present a one-off screening of SHOGUN ASSASSIN(1980) by Robert Houston on Wednesday 3 November, complete with a live DJ set by DJ Cheeba and an introduction by Juice Aleem of AfroFlux.

WALES

Over the Halloween weekend (30 – 31 October), international centre for contemporary arts and culture Chapter, in Cardiff, will celebrate the films of director Nobuhiko Ōbayashi. His cult film HAUSU (1977), drawing on ideas furnished by his young daughter, will be presented alongside a selection of Ōbayashi’s short films, and followed by a discussion on the power of young women on screen, led by a group of young programmers. The weekend will also include conversations on women and folklore in Japanese culture, as well as zine-making and craft workshops.

Author

  • The Gloria Steinem of the jumpsuit set. Russian ballerina-assassin. Redheaded Scarlett Johansson look-alike (yes, really. No, I won't send you photos). TMINE's publisher and Official Movie Reviewer in Residence. I've written for numerous magazines, including Death Ray and Filmstar, and I've been a contributor to TMINE since I was at university and first discovered I really wanted to write about movies, oh so many years ago. Sob.