East Side Stories
Japanese Cinema Depicting the Lives of Youth
The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme
31 January to 6 February 2014 at ICA
31 January to 27 March 2014 Nationwide
Following on from last year’s successful Once Upon a Time in Japan: Reinventing the Past Through the Eyes of Japanese Contemporary Filmmakers season, the ICA is pleased to welcome the return of the Japan Foundation UK annual touring film programme from 31 January to 6 February 2014. The programme offers another enlightening and expansive introduction to Japanese cinema through the framework of ‘youth’.
Cinema across the world has had an enduring love affair with the lives and dramas of young people. In Japan, the sheer number of films with the word ‘youth’ in the title is a testimony to the centrality of such narratives within its cinema. Throughout the history of Japanese cinema, the subject matter has been approached by directors including the legendary Yasujiro Ozu, who made a number of early films known as ‘college dramas’ about the woes of growing up, and New Wave directors such as Nagisa Oshima to contemporary filmmakers of today. Presenting a wonderful sphere in which to interpret and question the past, the genre of ‘youth movies’ (known in Japan as ‘Seishun Eiga’) was established, with the taiyozoku (‘Sun Tribe’) films of Nikkatsu in the 1960s, films which took their cues from Hollywood films like Rebel without a Cause (1955). As proven by the recent Nikkatsu retrospective at BFI Southbank, the genre of ‘Seishun Eiga’ has widely been recognised as a popular genre from the early ages of Japanese cinema.
Even today, the trend continues to exist and attract filmmakers as well as audiences, reflecting the lives, society and culture surrounding younger generations in Japan, who have a major role in the growth of the Japanese cinema industry. As with the ever-popular genre of ‘coming of age’ stories, many contemporary Japanese films have continued to look at how the experiences of our formative years are shaped by the environment and historical context in which our memories and identities are forged.
Reflecting on this trend in Japanese cinema, this year’s programme will provide a colourful and exciting picture of Japanese youth, bringing together a variety of genres and approaches, including Sorry (2002), a charming film about the turmoil of a young boy going through puberty and falling in love for the first, to cult comedies such as Otakus in Love (2004) and Love Strikes! (2011); two films providing hilarious portrayals of Japanese youth subcultures such as music, anime, otaku and cosplay. Depicting drama in seemingly directionless youthful lives is Shuichi Okita’s 1980s-set The Story of Yonosuke (2013), which uses its nostalgic setting to make its story timeless.
This year’s programme also includes Keiichi Hara’s beautiful and moving anime film Colorful (2010), a meditative portrayal of the tribulations of Japanese youth today, and also a rare opportunity to see Japanese New Wave director Yoshishige Yoshida’s classic account of temporary workers employed in the shipbuilding industry, 18 Who Caused a Storm (1963), allowing audiences to compare the contemporary films with a more classical approach.
Showcasing a vast variety of styles and tones, this programme will take a broad look at how the adults of tomorrow have been portrayed in Japanese cinema over the years by a number of established and up-and coming directors, through stories of individuals struggling to find a sense of meaning and identity within the world, with an overall message that is universal.
*Parade (パレード / Paredo) Isao Yukisada (2009), 118min
*Colorful (カラフル / Karafuru) Keiichi Hara (2010), 126min
*18 Who Cause a Storm (嵐を呼ぶ十八人 / Arashi o yobu juhachi-nin) Yoshishige Yoshida (1963), 108min
*Shindo (Wonder Child) (神童 / Shindo) Koji Hagiuda (2007), 120min
Your Friends (きみの友だち / Kimi no tomodachi) Ryuichi Hiroki (2008), 125min
*Love Strikes! (モテキ / Moteki) Hitoshi Ohne (2011), 118min
The Story of Yonosuke (横道世之介 / Yokomichi Yonosuke) Shuichi Okita (2013), 160min
*The Drudgery Train (苦役列車 / Kueki ressha) Nobuhiro Yamashita (2012), 105min
*Capturing Dad (チチを撮りに / Chichi o tori ni) Ryota Nakano (2012), 74min
Sorry (ごめん / Gomen) Shin Togashi (2002), 103min
Otakus in Love (恋の門 / Koi no mon) Suzuki Matsuo (2004), 114min
The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme is produced and organised by the Japan Foundation with kind support from the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and Japan Airlines.
Venues and Dates
ICA, London (31 January – 6 February)
Box office: 020 7930 3647
Watershed, Bristol (1 – 18 February*)
Box office: 0117 927 5100
Queen’s Film Theatre, Belfast (9 February – 9 March*)
Box office: 028 9097 1097
Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle upon Tyne (9 February – 23 March*)
Box Office: 0845 217 9909
Filmhouse, Edinburgh (28 February – 7 March)
Box office: 0131 228 2688
Showroom Workstation, Sheffield (7 – 13 March)
Box office: 0114 275 7727
Dundee Contemporary Arts (15 – 18 March)
Box office: 01382 909 900
Broadway, Nottingham (21 – 27 March)
Box office: 0115 952 6611