CWRU, Cinematheque bring rare Japanese films to Cleveland this fall

Japanese film series Poster CWRU Cleveland Cinematheque“Rarely Seen Gems of Japanese Cinema,” a film festival of four major Japanese classics with very limited showings in the United States, will be presented this fall at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, 11141 East Blvd., in University Circle.

The Japan Foundation in New York City is co-sponsoring the event with Case Western Reserve’s Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, the Dean’s Office in the College of Arts and Sciences, the university’s Department of Modern Languages and Literature, and the Cinematheque.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Linda Ehrlich, associate professor of Japanese, world literature and cinema. Cinematheque Director John Ewing added, “This series, thanks to 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 series runs on four nights between Sept. 28 and Oct. 12.

The four films, dating from the 1930s to the 1950s, expose Cleveland audiences to Japanese history and culture in stories from the Edo/Tokugawa period (1603-1868) through the post-WWII years. The films were directed by four of Japan’s most celebrated filmmakers (Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, Sadao Yamanaka, and Heinosuke Gosho) and feature some of Japan’s greatest movie actors, including Kinuyo Tanaka, Isuzu Yamada, Keiko Kishi, Bando Choemon, Nobuko Otowa and Hibari Misora.

Ehrlich is curating the festival with Ewing. They coordinated the screenings to coincide with and celebrate the reopening of the Japanese and Korean Art Galleries at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

All of the movies will be shown in 35mm or 16mm film prints with English subtitles; three of the prints are being imported from Japan solely for the series. An expert in Japanese literature, history and cinema studies will discuss the films before and after each showing.

The festival films and show times are:

  • Saturday, Sept. 28, at 5 p.m.: Miss Oyu (Oyusama, 1951), directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Ehrlich will introduce and discuss the story of a young man promised in marriage to one woman, but who falls in love with her sister. The film is Mizoguchi’s first collaboration with the esteemed cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa.
  • Thursday, Oct. 3, at 6:30 p.m.: Record of a Tenement Gentleman (Nagaya shinshiroku, 1947), directed by Yasujiro Ozu, is a story about one family’s struggles in post-WWII Japan. Kimberly Kono, associate professor of Japanese in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at Smith College and a visiting associate professor at Case Western Reserve, will provide a background of life and times in post-war Japan.
  • Saturday, Oct. 5, at 5 p.m.: Humanity and Paper Balloons (Ninjo kami fusen, 1937) is one of director Sadao Yamanaka’s top achievements before his untimely death at age 28. Garrett L. Washington, visiting assistant professor of history at Oberlin College, will discuss changes in the samurai image, and Yamanaka’s career.
  • Saturday, Oct. 12, at 5 p.m.: Growing Up (Takekurabe, 1955), directed by Heinosuke Gosho. Ann Sherif, in the East Asian Studies Program at Oberlin College and a former faculty member at Case Western Reserve, will discuss the renowned novella that inspired Gosho to make this film and also the fate of adolescents growing up in an entertainment district in late 19th-century Japan.

General admission to each film is $9, Cinematheque members and those with CWRU and CIA IDs $7, age 25 and under $6.  For further information, call 216.421.7450 or visit Parking for filmgoers is free in the CIA lot.